Though the College Football Playoffs have become the focus of the postseason, the 106th playing of the “granddaddy” of all bowl games, the Rose Bowl, looks to be perhaps the most physical, closely fought game of the 2019-20 bowl season. This matchup will see the sixth-ranked Oregon Ducks face the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California. While the Badgers are coming off a loss to Ohio State in the Big 10 championship, Oregon can end with their fifth 12-win season, and a likely bump to fifth in the rankings.
Oregon will be playing in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2012, when they also faced the Badgers in a game that ended with a 45-38 Ducks victory, according to Oregon Live. The loss for Wisconsin was the second of three straight appearances — and losses — as fifth-year coach Paul Chryst hopes to snap that streak on Wednesday.
Wednesday’s game will be Oregon’s eighth Rose Bowl appearance, and they will be looking to even their record at 4-4 — dating back to 1917 when the Ducks faced the University of Pennsylvania Quakers, a school then considered a college football powerhouse in that bygone era.
The Rose Bowl also marks the final collegiate game for Oregon’s senior quarterback Justin Herbert, whose 3,333 yards and 32 touchdown passes this season were the best of his career and likely earned him a top 10 selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. In fact, an SB Nation mock draft has Herbert going with the sixth pick to the Los Angeles Chargers.
The CBS Sports Inside College Football panel previews the matchup in the video below.
Herbert also boasts 95 TD passes in his collegiate career — the most of any active college quarterback. But he will have a difficult act to follow when looking back on the 2012 Ducks team, which was quarterbacked by Russell Wilson, who has since gone on to become one of the NFL’s top signal-callers with the Seattle Seahawks.
The two Rose Bowl contestants are remarkably evenly matched. Wisconsin has scored 34.6 points per game in the 2019 season, while Oregon averages 35.9 points. On the other side of the ball, the Badgers’ defense has surrendered an average of 16.1 points per game, while the Ducks have allowed 15.7.
As a result, the point spread is also close, with the lower-ranked Badgers actually favored by 2 1/2 points, according to USA Today.
Wisconsin junior running back Jonathan Taylor comes into Wednesday’s big game just 91 yards short of his second straight 2,000-yard season. Taylor also ran for 1,977 yards as a freshman in 2017.
The Rose Bowl kicks off at 2 p.m. PST on New Year’s Day at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN.