Nothing kicks off the New Year quite like the Granddaddy of Them All. The Rose Bowl. In case you haven’t heard, this season’s edition happens to be a dandy. Featuring the #6 Oregon Ducks and the #8 Wisconsin Badgers. The 2020 Rose Bowl has the makings for another classic in beautiful Pasadena, California.
The Ducks, led by Mario Cristobal, are fresh off a Pac 12 Championship. However, if it weren’t for a slip up at Arizona State they’d likely have found themselves in the College Football Playoff. The Badgers, headed by Paul Chryst, are coming off a loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship game. After leading 21-7 at the half, the Badgers self-destructed and lost 34-21. Bucky certainly showed what they’re capable of at their very best.
So what should you be looking for? There are a plethora of storylines to follow in this game. The focus will be on top talents Justin Herbert and Jonathan Taylor leading their respective offenses. However, an intriguing matchup will be the experienced Oregon offensive line matching up with fifth-year senior and All American, Zack Baun. This article takes a look at a few major storylines ahead of the historic Rose Bowl on New Years Day.
Recent History and Trends
Wisconsin hasn’t lost a bowl game since 2014, winning five straight, including two New Years Six bowls. However, they’ve lost three straight Rose Bowls, including an instant classic to Oregon to end the 2011-12 season. Oregon hasn’t been to the Rose Bowl since throttling the Florida State Seminoles there in the inaugural playoff game. They’ve lost three of their last four bowl games.
Guess what? You can throw all of those trends out the window. Both teams will be coming into this game motivated, looking to end their spirited seasons with a resounding victory in their biggest game of the year. There are stars galore, as future NFL talent is featured on both sidelines.
Containing Justin Herbert
This is the final task of the season for Badgers defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard. And boy what a task it is. Herbert, one of the top QB prospects ahead of the 2020 NFL draft has every tool imaginable. Strong armed, mobile, and accurate, Herbert presents an incredibly difficult challenge for a Badger unit that while stingy, is susceptible to the big play.
The aforementioned Baun, as well as other defensive leaders like Chris Orr and Caesar Williams, will have to perform big to limit an explosive Ducks offense. Historically, the Badgers have struggled with mobile quarterbacks. However, this group is certainly motivated to put to bed a poor 2nd half performance against the Buckeyes. This will be very exciting to watch as the game plays out.
Jonathon Taylor’s Final Act?
This could be Jonathon Taylor’s final game as a Wisconsin Badger. And if it is, what better final stage to perform on than the Rose Bowl. Look for Wisconsin to rely on the record-setting running back early and often. Establishing an advantage in the trenches is pivotal for the success of either side in determining the outcome of this game. That being said, Oregon sports a stingy rush defense of their own ranking top 10 nationally. Look for Chryst and co to get creative on offense in order to alleviate the pressure off of Taylor and rising junior quarterback Jack Coan. Still, everyone in the world of college football knows Taylor will be the focal point of the Badgers offensive attack on Wednesday. If this truly is the final act for Taylor, take it in. Take it all in.
All in all, this is a fascinating match-up. From the coaching chess match that will go on between Chryst/Leonhard and Cristobal, to the superstars of Herbert and Taylor, this game has it all.
As it stands now, we are mere hours away from the college football world descending upon the beautiful landscape of Pasadena, California on New Years Day. Enjoy the day, and the rest of bowl season!