If you are expecting us to give you the "it's their team speed vs. our ground game" type of a breakdown here, sorry, you'll be disappointed big time. That horse has been beaten to death and was also discussed on our BADGERS POWER HOUR on Wednesday. Instead, it's time to go inside the game and look at the stats for these two teams and what it could mean for how Wisconsin or Oregon achieve victory tomorrow.
Wisconsin D vs. Oregon O:
Wisconsin comes into the Rose Bowl ranked 8th in the nation in total defense, giving up only 293 yards a game, while Oregon ranks 5th with 515.2 yards a game on offense.
Not only that but something has to give in terms of scoring, as the Badgers rank 6th in scoring defense, only giving up 17 points a game. Oregon however averages 46.2 points a game, good for 3rd nationally in scoring offense.
So what needs to happen for Wisconsin to win this game on the defensive side of the ball?
We all know the running game is the key matchup on this side of the ball and it does favor the Ducks as they are 5th nationally as a team, averaging 295.6 yards a game. Wisconsin only ranks 46th against the rush, allowing 138 yards a game.
But if you look behind the numbers it becomes even more clear how the Badgers need to win this game on defense. In Oregon's two losses (LSU and USC) they averaged 169.8 yards a game less rushing than in their 11 victories, only averaging 152 yards vs. 321.8 in wins. The good news for Wisconsin is that they don't give up nearly that many yards rushing as a whole, giving up only 138 yards a game on the season.
The issue for the Badgers in their losses to Ohio State and Michigan State have been in the running game though, where they gave up an average of 188.5 yards a game. So if Oregon is racking up the yards it's not good. However in Wisconsin's 11 wins they are only allowing opponents to gain 128.8 yards a game.
Wisconsin fans have to hope they can keep Oregon to around 150 yards rushing in this game if they want a real chance to win it in my opinion. But what about the passing game of the Ducks?
This is the part of the game that Wisconsin has the biggest advantage in, ranking 3rd nationally in passing defense (133 yards a game), while Oregon ranks only 68th nationally (219.5 yards a game).
If you check the box score and Oregon has more yards throwing than rushing, it's a pretty good bet that it will be a Wisconsin victory. The Ducks actually averaged more yards passing, 252.5, in their losses than in their 11 victories, 213.5 yards a game.
Sure, it's also because they were behind in those games, but the more you make Darron Thomas throw the football the less efficient he becomes. He averages only 5.7 yards per attempt in the losses and a much more efficient 8.5 yards per attempt in victory.
It also shows that you need to be disruptive up front because they throw so many passes around the line of scrimmage and the Badgers are pretty good at that, ranking 47th nationally in tackles for losses. They average 6.23 a game and with the DB's Wisconsin has I think the short passing game on the edges plays into their hands. Cromartie and Fenelus have been very good at making sure tackles in space all year long.
The only issue is that in a more traditional passing game Wisconsin's pressure wasn't that great as they averaged just a shade under 1.8 sacks a game, good for a tie at 73rd in the nation. So, if the Badgers corners can be physical on the edges it very much will force the Ducks to play away from their strength and throw further down the field.
Wisconsin O vs. Oregon D:
When the Badgers have the ball things seemingly aren't nearly as heavily based upon the run as they might have been in the past, but that's not the case at all. It's understandable since Wisconsin has a very balanced offense this year, but in terms of winning and losing, it's all about the running game.
The Badgers offense averages 229.5 yards passing and 237.4 yards rushing a game, ranking 64th and 11th respectively in the nation. That's about as balanced as you can get in terms of yardage out of your running and passing game.
What's been different is how they are using the run game this season. It's been much more to set up Russell Wilson and his efficient passing game.
Interestingly there really hasn't been much of a difference for the Badgers in terms of the passing game in their wins and losses. They only average 10 more yards, 238-228, in the 2 losses this season.
What has been the difference is a lack of a running game, or at least up to Wisconsin's standards in the two losses. They only averaged 154.5 yards a game rushing, down nearly 100 yards a game from what they've done in their 11 wins.
In 9 of the 11 wins the Badgers have run for 200 or more yards, including games of 332 yards and 364 yards rushing as a team.
So clearly should the Badgers running game go north of 200 yards you'd be right in expecting a Badgers victory.
There's not doubt in my mind, this is the most potent offensive match up in many a year of my watching the Rose Bowl. Oregon is 3rd in scoring offense, well the Badgers are less than 2 points away in 5th place, scoring at a 44.6 points a game clip.
What most people assume in comparing offenses is that Oregon is all about scoring quick and often, and they'd be right. The Ducks scoring drives have only averaged 2:01 while the Badgers are averaging 2:59 a scoring drive, not exactly slow and plodding like most people picture.
In the end these two teams are very evenly matched and they both rely on an explosive running game to win. Whoever can get that going should be victorious tomorrow.
Don't forget to tune in to BADGERS SOUNDOFF LIVE! tomorrow as we bring you a full one hour look at the game, starting at 3pm Central, LIVE on location from The Vault in De Pere, WI. Join us in person for the shows and the game, or listen live by clicking on the link above. You won't want to miss our chat with former Badgers WR and now BTN analyst Brandon M. Williams, former Rose Bowl victor LaMar Campbell, Kevin McGuire of Examiner.com, and a few special guests may just pop up as well! Check us out after the game as we break down what occurred and take some time to remember the season at was in Badgers football as we take your calls and thoughts as well!
Until tomorrow afternoon... ON WISCONSIN!!