It's a strange Rose Bowl year. Usually the Rose Bowl strives to match up the best of the Pac 12 against the Big Ten's finest. But, this year, they matched the two champions, which did not necessarily equate with the two best: Michigan and Michigan State may both be better than Wisconsin in the Big Ten while Stanford and USC could each be considered the class of the Pac 12. But, that's a semantic debate: Wisconsin vs. Oregon is what we have so let's examine the matchup:
Wisconsin is right back where it was this time last year. In 2011, the Badgers were improbable Rose Bowl invitees: a surprise pick over both Ohio State and Michigan State. This year, Wisconsin is the Big Ten's 2012 (slight) under-achiever: a team with 13-0 talent, a superb quarterback in Russell Wilson, the best running tandem in college football, and a tough defense. Two October losses in a row-one a tough defeat to the Spartans and the other an inexplicable choke job against the Buckeyes-kept them out of the BCS National Championship Game.
In contrast, Oregon has been gunning for a Rose Bowl invite since beginning the season with a loss to LSU. Last years' BCS Championship runner-up, the Ducks are an impressive team with the best offense in college football. Like the Badgers, they feature a top quarterback-running back tandem but they play an opposite style: the Ducks use a fast pass, West Coast-style system while Wisconsin pounds the football to open up a traditional passing game. The team that wins will be the one that comes up with crucial defensive stops and maintains offensive poise throughout the game. In particular, the Ducks should look to stop the Badgers running game early while the Badgers should aim to keep possession of the ball, run the clock, and wear down Oregon's middling defense.
Prediction: Oregon Wins
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