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STANFORD vs. WISCONSIN
Tuesday, Jan 1, 5:00 pm
This is probably no one’s definition of a dream Rose Bowl matchup. With their surprising upset in the Big Ten Championship Game the Badgers become the first five-loss team ever to play in this game. The conference championship game model may generate more revenues for the conference, but it is to blame for ugliness like this. Stanford had a much better regular season and is the deserving representative of their conference. Few would have expected them to be before the season, though, as nearly everyone expected Oregon and USC to battle for supremacy in the Pac-12. It’s not a dream matchup, but it’s what we have so we might as well make the best of it. The Badgers will feel particularly comfortable in Pasadena since this is the third straight year they have played in the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately, they have lost both times — to Oregon last year and TCU two years ago. The good news for bettors and fans is that both games were dramatically more entertaining than it seemed like they would be.
The Stanford Cardinal are heading to the BCS for the third straight year. The Pac-12 Champions are 11-2, and they have won seven in a row, including rare back-to-back victories over UCLA. The two losses came on the road in Washington and, in overtime, at Notre Dame. The two wins against UCLA were both impressive, but the obvious marquee win was at Oregon in the game that shattered Oregon’s national title aspirations.
The Wisconsin Badgers were widely expected to win their division all year, and that’s just what they did. To do so, though, they needed a massive assist from the NCAA. Ohio State and Penn State both finished above Wisconsin in the standings, yet both were ineligible for the postseason. Wisconsin lost to Oregon State, Nebraska, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State, and their lone noteworthy regular season victory came against Utah State — and that was only by two points at home. That thoroughly underwhelming regular season makes the stunning 70-31 win over Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship Game even more unlikely.
The Badgers are 115th in the country in passing yards, and that’s not misleading — watching this team try to pass is brutally painful. What they can do, though, is run. Ball leads the way, but he’s not the only weapon on a team that was ranked 12th in yards at 238 per game and exploded for 539 yards against Nebraska. Three different runners eclipsed 100 yards against the Huskers. Their strength, though, lines up perfectly against Stanford’s biggest strength — The Cardinal were third best in the country at just 88 rushing yards per game allowed. We know how effective the defense as a whole can be in big games because they were the only team all year that made the Ducks look mortal. If Wisconsin can’t find a way to break through and pile up the yards on the ground then they are in a heap of trouble. This matchup will determine how the game turns out.
Stanford QB Kevin Hogan is a 20-year-old redshirt freshman who was thought to be third on the depth chart heading into the season. In four games as a starter, though, all he has done is beat ranked teams — including the same one twice in a row. He has been remarkably good, and he handles pressure like a grizzled veteran. The Badgers need to find ways to disrupt and confuse Hogan if they want to have a chance in this one. The only quarterback they have really confounded this year was Taylor Martinez last time out, so it’s at least possible that it could happen here.
Wisconsin’s Big Ten Championship win was unquestionably impressive. The question, though, is if they can come even remotely close to duplicating it. I have little respect for Nebraska, and this is a massive step forward. Defensively the Cardinal are the best team Wisconsin has seen, and they will be highly motivated to take home their first Rose Bowl in an eternity. You can’t escape that the Badgers have the most losses of any team ever in this game, and everyone this side of the Atlantic Ocean must believe that Stanford will just show up and win this game. But lets say I got a feeling and its not being sung by the Black Eyed Peas. As a Pac 10 fan I have followed Stanford all year and I honestly believe they are well coached and do what they need to do to win the game. And very possibly they may win this game but I just think that we will be ringing in the new year with an upset win by Wisconsin and they will win by a touchdown. Frosty here at the forum posted that Barry Alvarez may be coaching this game so that should be interesting. Not to mention that you are getting a touchdown so that would just tell me that even with a late game collapse we will be in good shape. I will update the play and analysis as we get closer to game time but already putting some sheckles on this right now. Not really much more to add to this although I do like the Under some in the game. Coming off my 2 best bets of bowl season with Tulsa winning yesterday I would make this game a very strong pick for a Top 5 selection this bowl season.