The Oregon Ducks are going back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2015. They have been tasked with playing the Wisconsin Badgers from the Big Ten.
Oregon Didn’t Make Playoff, But Should Cherish Rose Bowl Opportunity
Oregon had playoff aspirations going into the season, but hit a roadblock in College Football Week 1, losing 27-21 to the Auburn Tigers. If the Ducks had won out after losing to Auburn, they would have been strongly considered for the College Football Playoff. Their resume would have been better than Oklahoma’s. However, being upset by Arizona State late in the season derailed their title aspirations.
Fans of teams like Oregon and Wisconsin may be disappointed that their team did not make the College Football Playoff. Complaints about being in the Rose Bowl Game, however, are not warranted. The Rose Bowl has arguably the most pageantry out of all of the major bowl games. The game is always the main football attraction on New Year’s Day, when the game is usually played.
How Important is it for Oregon to Win the Rose Bowl?
A Rose Bowl victory will bolster recruiting and will give the Pac-12 a major bowl win. There is always criticism about the Pac-12 playing some of their major games too late on Saturday nights, but this game will be on at 5 p.m. on the east coast. Beating a Big Ten team such as Wisconsin would be noticed nationally, and it would make some of the people who might have an east coast bias rethink it a little.
The Pac-12 has been criticized in years past because of the perceived lack of defense in the conference. Oregon’s defense ranks 23rd nationally, while Wisconsin’s is 8th. Andy Avalos has been praised in Eugene for the defensive improvements that have been seen, especially this season. It will be important for potential recruits and conference prestige for the Ducks to stop Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor. Oregon has the 10th best run defense in the country. The Ducks can legitimize this ranking by stopping someone who received Heisman Trophy votes.
Justin Herbert Can Punctuate His Oregon Career With a Victory
Oregon has a rich history with college quarterbacks. Justin Herbert is well-regarded nationally and may be a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He has won a Pac-12 championship, but a Rose Bowl victory could elevate him in the pantheon of Oregon quarterbacks. Marcus Mariota is revered by the Oregon faithful, and Herbert has to win a Rose Bowl to even think about being compared to Mariota. Mariota won the 2015 Rose Bowl against Florida State, 59-20, in what was a College Football Playoff Semifinal game.
Herbert is 1-1 in his career in bowl games. Last year, the Ducks beat Michigan State 7-6 in the Redbox Bowl last year. Oregon lost to Boise State 38-28 in the Las Vegas Bowl to end the 2017 season.
Rose Bowl Important for Mario Cristobal and Recruiting
Oregon is currently 18th in 247Sports’s 2020 Composite Team Rankings as far as recruiting. Cristobal earning his first major bowl win would give the Ducks brand more exposure to a national audience. There were more expectations for Oregon this decade, but they can start off the new decade with a win that will instill optimism into the program and the fanbase.
For as big of a brand as Oregon is, they should be higher than 18th in any recruiting rankings of any kind. Oregon’s win against Florida State in the 2015 Rose Bowl Game was the last major victory for the program. Recruits need to be reassured that the Ducks will be competing for national championships, and ending the season with a possible top-5 ranking would help this cause.
Prediction for Oregon Versus Wisconsin
ESPN’s FPI gives Oregon a 53.9% chance to win the Rose Bowl. If the Ducks are able to mix up the passing attack with the running of C.J. Verdell, they should be able to win. The defense needs to make Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan beat them. If the defense contains Jonathan Taylor, they should not have too many problems with containing the Wisconsin offense. If the Oregon offense can replicate what they did in the Pac-12 championship against Utah, they should have no problem beating Wisconsin.
Final Score Prediction: Oregon 31, Wisconsin 21