The self-proclaimed “grand-daddy of them all” really does have an awesome game this year. There are lots of great games scheduled for Monday including Wisconsin’s fellow Big 10 teams in action against the SEC in the Capital One and the Outback bowl at 1:00. Thankfully this game doesn’t kick off until 5:00 EST so those other two games should be wrapped up so everyone can get their attention focused on this one, which promises to be an offensive showcase for the ages.
Bowl Breakdown: Both these teams and fan-bases are getting used to being in BCS bowls, but are both still looking to end the season with a big win for the first time in a few years. Last year the Ducks lost in the BCS championship after losing in the Rose Bowl the year before and the Badgers lost last year’s Rose Bowl to TCU after failing to tie the game with a late 2-point conversion. Both Coach Chip Kelly of Oregon and Bret Bielema of Wisconsin are among the most respected in the nation and rightfully so as these to powerhouse schools had offenses that churned out the yards and points this year. Wisconsin scored 80 TD’s on the year and averaged 44.6 points per game (5th in the nation) while playing through a Big 10 that had some of the better defenses in the country (especially Michigan State twice and Penn State). The dynamic duo of transfer QB Russell Wilson and RB Montee Ball have carried the Badgers offense and have kept defenses guessing with a lethal balance attack. Wilson is extremely accurate and can also make plays with his feet, while Ball’s combination of vision, strength, and size led him to being a Heisman finalist and having a chance to break Barry Sanders all-time record for most rushing TD’s in a single season (although Sanders achieved his record of 38 in an astonishing 11 games compared to Ball’s 13 coming into this one, note: there’s some confusion as to what the record actually is since back in 1988 they did not include bowl games in official stats which they do today). Wisconsin’s offensive line is among the best in the nation and will look to impose their will against the speed of Oregon’s defense which ranked 45th overall in scoring D giving up 23.6 ppg. Wisconsin’s D is loaded with playmakers too and they finished the season ranked 6th in scoring D and 8th in total defense. The talented Wisconsin defense will have the Ducks “blur” offense to contend with which matched the Badgers in terms of scoring output and will be modeling the most reflective football helmets I’ve ever seen (check ‘em out here.) They finished 3rd in the country with 46.2 points per game and scored 82 touchdowns becoming one of only 2 teams to accomplish 80+ is two seasons in a row. The feature back for the Ducks is Lamichael James who averaged an impressive 149.6 yards per game and is fully recovered from an elbow injury that sidelined him for 2 games. In order to keep the Badgers defense honest, it’ll be up to QB Darron Thomas to find his backs and receivers in the array of screens, hitches, and go routes that utilize the speed at the skill positions that make this up-tempo offense so effective. This is one of the hardest games to pick since the two teams are so evenly matched and both offenses are so potent. I’ll take the Ducks since their offense is so unique and I don’t think the Badgers have seen anything like it. Michigan State did score 39 and 31 against them, so they can be beaten. This is a must-watch game for any college football fan and it’ll be great to see these two star-studded squads go head-to-head in an epic offensive battle.
Pro Prospects: These are both big-time programs and they’ll be many players on the field Monday that will play on Sundays next year. I’ll give a quick look at the top players here, but for more in-depth analysis of all these players and many other NFL Draft news check out our fellow-Fansided blog nflmocks.com…Montee Ball-Wisconsin-RB: Ball is a Jr. runner who may use the momentum of a good end of the season and hopefully a good bowl game to come out early and get into the end of the first round or beginning of the 2nd round. The only real question is how much of his success is due to the system and how much he’ll translate to the next level. Nick Toon-Wisconsin-WR: Lacks the elite speed to be a stretch-the-field receiver at the next leve but has good size and excels at making catches in tight spaces. He’s probably a 2nd or 3rd round pick and could help his draft stock with good work in the pre-draft process. Peter Konz-Wisconsin-C: Konz is a Jr. center who most would rank 2nd only to OSU’s Michael Brewster. He would probably go in the mid-to-late first round if he did declare early and I think that’s too good an option to pass up. Ricky Wagner-Wisconsin-OL: Wagner is another 2-year starter who is a Jr and may return for another season. If he did come out this year he’s probably a 3rd round pick. Kevin Zeitler-Wisconsin-OL: Zeitler will definitely be in the draft and is one of, in not the best Guard in the draft. His size and run-blocking ability will make his a great 2nd round pick for a team looking to run the ball between the tackles. Antonio Fenelus-Wisconsin-CB: Fenelus is a solid corner who will fit well in a zone scheme in the NFL. He’s a good tackler and makes plays on the ball. He’ll probably be a late 4th or early 5th round pick and could be a steal if he continues to develop. Aaron Henry-Wisconsin-S: The experts agree that it’s a thin safety class but Henry has the speed and size to be a starter in the NFL. He needs to go to the right situation and learn to avoid some negative plays he’s allowed but as a round 3 pick, he’ll be a good selection…Darron Thomas-Oregon-QB: Thomas could be a lot of things in the NFL and will probably return for his Sr. season. If he comes out this year he’s an end of the draft pick by a team either looking for a Cam Newton-lite QB or hoping to develop him into a WR/RB/Slash type player. I think he’ll play his final year at Oregon. Lamichael James-Oregon-RB: James has another year of eligibility as well, but may go pro since he’s projected as a late 1st round pick. The main knock is his durability and that he probably won’t develop into a feature back. Reggie Bush has had value and showed this year that even smaller, shiftier runners can be feature backs and I think James will be a great addition at the end of the first round or an absolute steal if he falls into the top of round 2. Kenjon Barner-Oregon-RB: Barner also has 1 more year of eligibility and is undecided abou the draft. He’s a great receiver out of the backfield and his speed after the catch (and in the running game) is his greatest asset. He’ll go in the 3rd or 4th round if he does declare this year with the potential to move up if he has a great combine.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our ongoing series for our Bowl Mania. You can find the same type of analysis for the Outback, Capital One, TicketCity, and Gator Bowls. Or check out the Full entry page to see how accurate each breakdown was for the games that have already taken place.