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All selections, analysis and thoughts will be posted on the Bowl Express Thread
SPOOKY EXPRESS BOWLING FOR DOLLARS SELECTION AND ANALYSIS THREAD Rose Bowl
Oregon vs. Wisconsin
Monday, January 2, 5:00 pm
The “Granddaddy of Them All” where USC should be playing this year. While most would consider the Rose Bowl the top non-title bowl game, both UW and Oregon had National Championship hopes this year. The Ducks (11-2) fell in their season opener to now top-ranked LSU but had climbed up to No. 4 in the BCS and were in solid shape for the BCS title spot. But that was spiked when Oregon fell, 38-35, at home to Southern Cal on Nov. 19. Oregon still advanced to the first Pac-12 title game and handled UCLA – perhaps the worst BCS conference finalist ever – in that one with relative ease. The Ducks and Badgers are both looking for redemption in the Rose Bowl. And what should give Badgers fans a good feeling is that Oregon’s fast-paced, high-scoring offense has been slowed in the past two bowl games. In last year’s loss to Auburn, Oregon was held to 81 yards rushing after entering at 304 per game. And two years ago in the loss to the Buckeyes, Oregon was held 20.7 points and nearly 200 yards below its season averages. Could all that time between the end of the regular season and the bowl games be giving defensive coordinators a window to figure out that Chip Kelly offense? Wisconsin is no slouch on offense itself. Wisconsin averaged 44.6 points, fourth best in the nation, and 467 yards per game this season. Running back Montee Ball, a Heisman finalist, leads the nation with 1,759 yards rushing and 38 total touchdowns. With two more touchdowns in the Rose Bowl, he’ll break Barry Sanders’ single-season FBS record. And QB Russell Wilson was brilliant in his lone season in Madison, finishing behind only Heisman winner Robert Griffin with a 191.6 rating, throwing just three picks to 31 touchdowns. This will be the last time you see Wilson and, expectedly, Ball and Oregon star running back LaMichael James on a college field. Wilson’s eligibility is up and both Ball and James are likely headed to the NFL as juniors.
It’s also the last time you will see Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst on a Badgers sideline. He has accepted the Pitt head coaching job but will coach in this game. Chryst has been in his position for seven seasons. For those of you thinking the Chryst thing might be a distraction, it’s the second year in a row that UW is dealing with something like this. Last year defensive coordinator Dave Doeren had been hired as head coach at Northern Illinois but stayed to coach in the Rose Bowl. While UW lost the game, that defense held TCU 22.3 points below its scoring average and to just 301 total yards, 190.5 yards below its average. This could be the best bowl game of the season and it wouldn’t shock anyone to see a total approaching triple digits with the Ducks’ inventive offense against Wisconsin’s old-school power football.
Both defenses have shown some weaknesses at times. UW’s defense is No. 6 overall in the nation, however, while Oregon is way down the list. But that’s sort of unfair because that unit is on the field so much and often allows garbage yards and points with the Ducks so far ahead. Still, it’s concerning that Oregon lost to a strong running team (LSU, although largely due to turnovers) and an excellent passing team (USC and Matt Barkley). Wisconsin can do both. And I do think all the time to game plan benefits the Badgers to stop the Oregon offense. I think UW may be the third-best team in the country. Everything screams the ‘over’ considering we have two Top-5 offenses and neither team has been held below 27 points yet this year. But right now the total is too high and not sure about that. I have Wisconsin winning by almost 2 touchdowns. Yes 2 touchdowns, so this makes Wisconsin not only a money line dog but one of the strongest plays of the bowl season. As always come back closer to game time with an update but right now its all Badgers to take home the Roses. And although I am buying the point listed below I am also taking this on the money line (+200).