The Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio features the best from the Pac 12 and the Big Ten in most years, however there should be an asterisk next to the game this season when Stanford and Wisconsin meet in the ‘Granddaddy of em all’, because Wisconsin finished third in the conference.
Wisconsin is the first team with five losses to appear in the Rose Bowl and is only in this game because of the postseason bans placed on Penn State and Ohio State. The Badgers did put on a clinic however in the Big Ten Championship Game against Nebraska when they racked up 70 points and 539 rushing yards to “earn” their place in the Rose Bowl for the third consecutive season.
They won’t have their head coach that guided them to this point after Bret Bielema left the program in the lurch for the money and lure of coaching in the SEC when he took the Arkansas job. Coaching for Wisconsin will be former coach and current athletic director, Barry Alvarez, who claims three Rose Bowl wins on his resume.
As per usual the Badgers are a run-oriented team and feature the 12th ranked rushing attack led by record-setting senior running back and the 2012 Doak Walker award winner Montee Ball and junior James White who have combined for more than 2500 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Counteracting the potent Badgers run offense is the No. 3 ranked rush defense of Stanford–who is also in a BCS bowl for the third straight season–which will try to take away the rushing lanes for Ball and White and force the Badgers into passing situations.
The Badgers have struggled all season in trying to replace Russell Wilson under center and have started three different starting quarterbacks this season. Fifth-year senior Curt Phillips gets the start in this game after battling back from a flood of injuries during his collegiate career. If he falters the Badgers may be able to turn to freshman Joel Stave who is returning from a broken collarbone suffered in the loss vs. Michigan State.
However, the Badgers know how their bread is buttered and it’s with their run game, and the same can be said for David Shaw’s team which features Stephan Taylor who amassed 1442 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground this season.
The two teams are mirror images really and will look to impose their will on the opposing defense while running the ball down their throats, and the team that is able to do that the best on New Year’s Day will be the winner of the Rose Bowl.
Each team has found themselves in close games this season, but it’s been Stanford that has come away victorious in those contests while Wisconsin has fallen just short. Continuing with that theme I am predicting more of the same as Stanford gets the program’s first Rose Bowl win since 1972.
Stanford wins 27-23.
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