Rose Bowl Picks: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Oregon Ducks
Wisconsin Badgers (10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS) vs. Oregon Ducks (11-2 SU, 7-6 ATS)
The Rose Bowl
Date and Time: Wednesday, Jan. 1 at 5pm ET
Where: The Rose Bowl
Point Spread: WIS -2.5/ORE +2.5 (SportBet - Best Parlay Odds Online!)
Over/Under Total: 51
Playing on New Year’s Day used to be THE sign that your favorite team had a great season. The College Football Playoff has changed that a bit, but playing in a “NY6 Bowl” is still a big deal and The Rose Bowl remains the gold standard invite for any Big Ten or Pac-12 team. The Wisconsin Badgers will meet the Oregon Ducks in Pasadena for the 106th Rose Bowl and we can only hope for a repeat of the back-and-forth classic these teams put on in 2012. That game ended 45-38 in Oregon’s favor, but another shootout isn’t likely considering both defenses are inside the top-10 in points allowed.
Wisconsin has won each of its last five Bowl games, including all four under Paul Chryst but have lost each of their previous three Rose Bowl appearances. This game is the 10th trip to Pasadena for the Badgers, where they own a 3-6 overall record. Oregon is 1-1 in Bowls under Mario Cristobal, and their 7-6 RedBox win last season broke a three-game Bowl losing streak. The Ducks have made the Rose Bowl on seven previous occasions, going 3-4 overall. These teams share a lot of similarities, including each having a bad loss in the regular season, but both also looked strong to finish with Oregon dropping Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game and Wisconsin pushing Ohio State to the limit in the Big Ten title game. With Justin Herbert and Jonathan Taylor standing out for their respective offenses, this Rose Bowl should go the way of the team that plays to its strength the best.
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It is no surprise to see Wisconsin again win ten games and its side of the Big Ten on the back of an elite running game. Taylor needs 81 yards to reach the 2,000 yard-mark this season, and the Badgers enter the game ranked 15th in rushing at 241 yards per game. The Wisconsin wide receivers are in on the run game as well, contributing five rushing touchdowns with a Wildcat package likely to be seen at some point. Jack Coan hasn’t been asked to throw often, but he has hit at 70% when he does sling it and has 17 touchdowns with just four interceptions. Quintez Cephus (52/842/6) leads the team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns with TE Jake Ferguson as the go-to on third downs. Wisconsin is 8th in third-down conversions at 50% and leads the nation in time-of-possession by nearly a minute over the second-best team. On defense, UW is 9th in total yards allowed and gives up 16.1 points per game with the linebacking trio of Chris Orr, Zack Baun, and Jack Sanborn, accounting for 29.5 sacks. Wisconsin is 4th in the NCAA in total sacks (48) and 2nd in third-down defense, holding opponents to a 27% conversion rate.
That paragraph header is equal parts awful and appropriate as Oregon again possesses one of the best offenses in the land. Justin Herbert is north of 3,300 passing yards with 32 touchdowns, and the Duck passing game has every right to claim equal footing with the Badger run prowess. Wisconsin is 8th against the run, but CJ Verdell and Travis Dye are both averaging more than six yards per carry with Cyrus Habibi-Likio leading the team with ten rushing scores. Johnny Johnson and Jaylon Redd have both hit the 50-catch mark, and while that duo is a bit undersized, they are legit playmakers and have combined for 14 touchdowns. The Duck defense has pulled its weight, ranking 23rd in total yards allowed while giving up 15.7 points per game. The availability of DE Kayvon Thibodeaux is questionable as he battles a hand injury. Oregon could certainly use his services as he leads the team with nine sacks while no other Duck has more than four. Safety Jevon Holland leads with four interceptions, but his ability to support the run-stopping could play a larger role than anything he does on the back end.
Wisconsin is 4-0 against the spread in the last four non-conference games with a 4-1 ATS mark in the last five Bowl contests with the Under at 3-1-1 over that Bowl span. Wisconsin is 0-5 against the spread in their last five as a neutral site favorite. Oregon is 2-6 against the spread in the last eight non-conference games with the Under hitting in five of the last six when playing a team outside the Pac-12. Oregon got the ATS win last week which brings forward their unusual 5-14 ATS mark in the last 19 games immediately following an ATS win.
I know Penn State fans are lamenting not being selected for the Rose Bowl, but this matchup is fantastic, and it feels like these teams could produce one of the better overall games of the entire bowl slate. Wisconsin and Paul Chryst are very good at using the extra time to add a wrinkle on offense, and it has shown in the last two years when UW hit 34 and 35 points against Miami defenses that were top-5 leading into those Bowl games. This is likely Jonathan Taylor’s last collegiate game, and I think he is given the opportunity feature prominently in the outcome. A heavy dose of the run game will keep the ball from Herbert and keep the Wisconsin defense fresh. Oregon played two bad quarters of football against Arizona State, or they would have had a good claim to a CFP spot, so this one isn’t going to be easy for Bucky, but I think there are enough small advantages gained for Wisconsin to pull out a 30-26 win.
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