When: 5:05 pm ET
Where: Rose Bowl – Pasadena, CA
Weather: 60s, clear
Legendary ABC college football broadcaster Keith Jackson coined the phrase “Grand Daddy of Them All,” for the Rose Bowl Game. There are a host of reasons why I agree. The first is the game itself, which historically pairs the winner of the Pac-12 with the winner of the Big Ten. The Rose Bowl has admirably managed to maintain a semblance of tradition in the face of conference realignment.
Second is the game’s backdrop. The stadium is majestic and buzzing with the energy from the fans. Lastly, when the sun sets at the beginning of the third quarter, it is the most inspiring visual in college football.
The match-up this season pits the Pac-12 champion Stanford Cardinal against the Big Ten’s representative, the Wisconsin Badgers.
Stanford is 11-2 record overall and 5-1 against top 25 ranked teams. The two losses were to the Washington Huskies in rainy Seattle, where a very few road teams –college or professional — win, and to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a game wherein the referees voided out a late Stanford goal-line touchdown that would have ruined the perfect season of the Irish. Who would win in a match-up between Stanford and Alabama on Monday night in Miami?
Freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan from Mclean, Va., took over at quarterback midway through the season, replacing ineffective junior Josh Nunes.
Hogan has a 7-0 record as a starter, with wins over undefeated Oregon and two defeats of Pac-12 South champion UCLA. Hogan is also 4-0 as a starter in road games. Hogan has competed 73 percent of his passes for 973-yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions. The running game is anchored by indefatigable senior and Mansfield, Texas product Stephan Taylor. Taylor has 302 rushes for 1442 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The trio of receiver Drew Terrell and tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo have combined for 121 receptions, 1673 yards and 14 touchdowns.
What separates the Cardinal from other teams this season is its defense, which is strong on all three levels. The Cardinal is ranked 12th in the country in points allowed at 17 per game. I do not foresee them giving up much more than that to the Badgers this afternoon.
Wisconsin has an 8-5 record overall. UW had high hopes going into the season but injury issues with Montee Ball, an ineffective offensive line and poor quarterback play resulted in a sub-par season for the Badgers.
Senior running back Montee Ball leads the offense. The Wentzville, Ohio native had 332 attempts for 1730 yards and 21 touchdowns, and rushed into the NCAA records books this season. Ball averaged 133 yards and two touchdowns per game. Junior James White has been highly effective for the Badgers, as well. White has accounted for 802 yards and 12 touchdowns and had a breakout showing in the Big Ten title game rout of Nebraska.
Quarterback play has been ineffective for UW all season. As a result, the output of the receivers has not been very good. Juniors Jared Abbrederis and Jacob Pedersen combined have accounted for 72 receptions, 1139 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Wisconsin defense has been solid, as is typical of Badger teams. It’s allowed opponents to score an average of 19 points per game, which ranks them 19th nationally.
Stanford can beat any team, anytime and anywhere. They are well coached by David Shaw, have a good offense and a great defense. The only chance Wisconsin has is to get consistent pressure on Stanford quarterback Hogan and force him to throw more than one interception. Look for Stanford to dominate this game, even though the score will not be indicative of the beat-down.
Final Score: Stanford 26, Wisconsin 22