Sunday, January 1, 2012
Rose Bowl: Keys to Game and Prediction
Oregon vs Wisconsin
Keys to the Game:
We've all heard the match up talked about as Oregon Speed vs Wisconsin Power. The contrasting styles, the traditional Big 10 vs Pac 12 match-up. Oregon wants to get its explosive play makers in space and Wisconsin wants to pound Monte Ball down your throat and then play action and beat you deep.
I think a lot has been made about how good the offenses in this game are however to me this game will come down to three important things. Who has the better defense, who turns the ball over more, and who outplays who on special teams.
Offense: Both teams have explosive Offenses, explosive feature backs, solid quarterbacks, and average 44 and 46 pts per game. In NCAA total offense statistics Oregon ranks 4th and Wisconsin 14th however in the more accurate Yards Per Play stat Wisconsin would be 5th at 7.02 and Oregon 4th at 7.04. You are splitting hairs in comparing these teams offensively.
Comparing who they've played and how the stats were gained. Playing Top 30 Defenses you will see that Wisconsin played, Michigan State twice, Penn St, Illinois, and Ohio State. Oregon played, Stanford, California, and LSU. So I look at this and say it's pretty close in comparison. Illinois held Wisconsin to its season low at 28 and LSU held Oregon to 27 for its season low in points scored. In Wisconsin's two losses this year they were held to 31 and 29 points. In Oregon's two losses they were held to 35 and 27. A key factor in both Oregon losses this year were turnovers. In Wisconsin's loss to Michigan State they lost the turnover battle and time of possession. In the Ohio State loss they only rushed for 89 yards, and lost the Time of Possession battle as well.
So my conclusion for who has the offensive advantage is - Neutral
Defense: Wisconsin ranks 8th in NCAA Total Defense. Oregon ranks 63rd so it would seem Wisconsin has a large edge here, but lets go deeper. If you look at Yards per play allowed Wisconsin averages 4.85 and Oregon 4.93. Again this is a very small difference. Oregon defended 1005 plays this season and Wisconsin 786. If you compare the Top 30 Offenses that each team played you will see that Oregon played Nevada, Stanford, Arizona, Arizona State, and USC. Wisconsin played Northern Illinois. One thing I'm not sure of is if the lack of good offenses are a product of good defenses in the Big 10 or if they just don't have that many explosive offensive players. Wisconsin seems to be the one team in the conference that has both.
Advantage- Oregon The Ducks have been tested against many top offenses and yield almost the same yards per play. They have defended great offenses and given up only 40 points to LSU who only gained 276 yards of Offense. USC gashed the Ducks for 38 points with their high powered offense and NFL Receivers. I'm not sure Wisconsin has that type of talent out wide even though they do have Monte Ball. The Badgers have the best Running back - Quarterback duo Oregon will play all year. It will be interesting to see how they come out and defend.
Turnovers: Advantage Wisconsin- 8 All season The Badgers handle the ball really well and Monte Ball has NEVER FUMBLED! Ball security is huge in this game and if Oregon loses this battle like against LSU it could be lights out for the Ducks.
Special Teams: Advantage Oregon- Wisconsin is 81st in Defending Kickoff returns. Oregon has speed on special teams that Wisconsin will have to contain. Oregon is 1st in Net Punting and Wisconsin 71st. In a game where there are few advantages this could be the biggest difference.
What to Expect: I expect The Badgers will look to do what they do best and that's run the ball. I think they will attempt to get Oregon on their heels on Defense and probably take a shot early, maybe even on the first play. I expect Wisconsin to look to stop the run of Oregon and keep the Ducks in front of them. They have emphasized tackling and tempo in their preparation so don't expect them to be surprised or intimidated by Oregon's tempo.
I think Oregon will look to soften up Wisconsin by throwing the ball early. I expect we will see an extremely balanced offensive game plan as it plays out. On Defense, I think Oregon will play man up on the corners, and leave 7 and 8 in the box to contain Monte Ball and Russel Wilson. Wisconsin is athletic and big enough on the edges to go deep on the Ducks. If Oregon doesn't play coverage well, it could be a long day for Oregon fans!
The ultimate difference in this game will be Oregon's Defense and Special Teams. The one thing that could change the outcome significantly is Oregon losing the turnover battle by 2 or more. I don't expect that to be the case. I think Oregon will make some big plays on Special Teams that will change the game. Oregon will need to take care of the ball on offense because Wisconsin quite simply doesn't make too many mistakes. I think The Ducks Defense will do a solid job however it will be how Oregon limits Wisconsin's explosion plays that will make the final difference. Expect Oregon's offense to get on track this game, and help propel Oregon to a 45-30 Victory.
Thanks for reading and enjoy a great 2012!