Monday, December 31, 2012

Rose Bowl Preview

***this article was originally posted on***

Teams: Wisconsin (8-5) vs No. 6 Stanford (11-2)

When: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 5 p.m. (ESPN)
Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson are at the forefront of one of the greatest rookie quarterback classes the NFL has ever seen. Both players have turned their teams’ misfortunes around en route to securing unforeseen playoff births for their respective franchises.
Now, one would think that the loss of such talented players would be detrimental to their alma maters down at the college level. Remarkably, however, that was not the case this season as both Stanford and Wisconsin have thrived, and ultimately earned the right to square off in the 2013 Rose Bowl. This is Stanford’s first Rose Bowl appearance since losing to Wisconsin back in 2000. Meanwhile, this is Wisconsin’s third straight trip to the Granddaddy of Them All, only this time around their hoping for a different outcome.
Stanford cruised through Pac 10 play, losing just one in-conference game, to Washington, as well as an October showdown versus Notre Dame that saw the Cardinal come up just a yard short of victory. Wisconsinon the other hand had some struggles in the Big 10, finishing up regular season play with an 8-5 record, included three overtime loses. The Badgers will become the first five-loss team to ever make the Rose Bowl, thanks largely impart to both Ohio State and Penn State’s postseason bans from prior infractions.
The big storyline heading into this game has more to do with the men on the sidelines than the men on the field. Former Wisconsin head coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez is set to make his return to the gridiron, filling in as an interim coach for Bret Bielema, who left the Badgers this off-season to take the head coaching position over at Arkansas. Alvarez first came to Wisconsin in 1990 after serving as the defensive coordinator under Lou Holtz at Notre Dame.
Alvarez coached the Badgers for 16 seasons and in that time won three Rose Bowl games. A victory on Tuesday would tie him with Ohio State legend Woody Hayes for the most Rose Bowl wins by a Big Ten coach.
Despite the aforementioned loss of Andrew Luck, Cardinal coach David Shaw has done an outstanding job of keeping the program at an elite level. Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov are the anchors of a stellar defensive unit, but it was a midseason decision to start Kevin Hogan at quarterback that really has this team firing on all cylinders. Hogan provides duel threat capabilities that keeps opposing defenses on their toes, and he’s done a great job at limiting his turnovers (3:1 TD to INT ratio on the year).
Both Stanford and Wisconsin rely heavily on their bread and butter, the running game. The Cardinal’s are led by Stepfan Taylor (1,442 rush yds, 12 rush TDs), while the Badgers offense goes through Doak Walker Award winner Montee Ball (1,730 rush yds, 21 rush TDs). Ball already owns the NCAA single season and career touchdown record with 39 and 82, respectively, and would like nothing more than to add to those totals in his last collegiate game. We know that both teams are going to try to establish the run early, but the outcome will be determined by which team can do a better job at stopping the rushing attack on defense.
Stanford ranks in the top 25 in the NCAA in both points allowed and total defense, and should have no trouble putting the breaks on the Badgers in Pasadena.
PREDICTION: Stanford 38, Wisconsin 20

-fresh (@danye33)

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