Rose Bowl Preview- Wisconsin v.s Oregon

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By Brandon Pope

Explosive offenses will be on display January 2nd in Pasadena, California. The Wisconsin Badgers and The Oregon Ducks will meet in the Rose Bowl. Both teams rank in the nation’s top four in scoring.

The Badgers are a team who nearly had their hopes of returning to the BCS dashed, with two straight dispiriting losses in October. The Buckeyes of Ohio State and the Michigan State Spartans ended the Badgers national championship hopes with amazing last second hail mary passes. But they battled back, defeating those same Spartans in the Big Ten championship game, clinching consecutive trips to Pasadena for the first time since the 1998-99 seasons.

After surviving a tough non-conference schedule and a competitive Pac-12 race, The Oregon Ducks are headed to their third consecutive BCS bowl game. But that’s not enough for last year’s national championship runner-up. They’re 0-2 in those games. Ranking third in the nation in scoring, fifth in rushing and sixth in total offense, the Ducks are once again an offensive juggernaut. Their relentless, up-tempo offense wears opposing defenses down and causes them to lose concentration and gap integrity.

The Badgers will be looking to stop Oregon’s star running back LaMichael James. James is the first back in Pac-12 conference history to rush for more than 1,500 yards three consecutive seasons. But he’s not the only offensive weapon Wisconsin will have to worry about. Backup running back Kenjon Barner provides thunder to LaMichael James’ lightning. True freshman De’Anthony Thomas is a multipurpose quarterback who can make dynamic plays on the ground. Look for him to target athletic tight end David Paulson on key third downs.

But the Badgers best defense could be their offense. Their large offensive line could impose their will on the Duck’s smaller defensive front. The ground game, led by Heisman candidate Montee Ball, could keep Oregon’s offense off the field. Ball is a flat-out monster at running back. He only needs two more touchdowns to set the single season FBS record set by Barry Sanders. He was pretty good. Quarterback Russel Wilson should find it much easier to thrive against a less physical defense than he played in the Big Ten. This will be the NC State transfer’s first BCS appearance. He shines in the spotlight.

Wisconsin should win this game if they maintain the balance they’ve had throughout the season. If they lose their identity like in last year’s Rose Bowl against TCU, the Ducks will quickly capitalize.

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