Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 Rose Bowl

The following is definitely from the Oregon perspective. As a UO alum, I can't think about this in any other way.

OK...I would like to say that Oregon will win the 2012 Rose Bowl game, and do so by a couple touchdowns. And why not. I'd be justified based on how the Ducks played this season. I'd like to say that their superior speed, light speed pace of play and overall skill and toughness will eventually do in the slower, more methodical and traditional Wisconsin squad.

I'd like to say all that.

But experience tells me to think of some other things to say. For indeed, over the past three seasons there are three things that cannot be denied:

First, when the Ducks run up against big, strong defenses (Auburn, Ohio State, LSU) that have had weeks to prepare, they have not fared as well - indeed, they've lost. Some close (3 pts to Auburn, 9 pts to Ohio State), but lost. Perhaps a key difference this year is that despite Wisconsin's D being big, they are not nearly as fast and athletic as, say the "big uglies" over at LSU or Auburn. Stanford was like that and Oregon rolled them pretty good. But, in any case, there is no denying that the Badgers - at least on the surface - present the familiar dilemma for the Ducks.

Second, the Ducks seemed a bit lost for the first half of big games. They did some things well, but they seemed more out of sorts - or at least a bit more than the team they were playing. The result has been that the Ducks really never kicked into high gear on a regular basis until the second half. Too little, too late.

Third, prevalent in Oregon losses over the last three seasons have been turnovers. Oh, the turnovers. They gave it up several times to LSU deep in their own end leading to Tiger TDs - and the Ducks ended up losing by 14. And, in the 2010 Rose Bowl, the Ducks fumbled and were intercepted - directly leading to 10 points by Ohio State. The Ducks lost by 9. Turnovers were pretty even vs. Auburn last year's BCS championship game, but what if the Ducks hadn't turned it over at all?

Meanwhile, Wisconsin brings a lot to the table even if they are big and relatively slow. Their QB is mobile and accurate, they have a great RB and their D can hit. But, I don't see them as the lethal defensive football force that was the 2010 Auburn Tigers or is the 2011 LSU Tigers....and I don't think they are the offensive team that Ohio State was in 2009. To boil it down, the Badgers seem to have a few weaknesses that Oregon's previous BCS bowl and high profile opponents didn't have. And those weaknesses match up against for what Oregon does well.

So, all that being analyzed, I'll end up saying this...

Turnovers are going to be the decisive factor in who scores more points in this game - not rushing yards, passing yards, time of possession, receptions, passing efficiency or anything else. If Wisconsin leads in those more traditional categories, Oregon can overcome it and win - perhaps even by a lot. But turnovers? No. That's the Duck killer in big games against high quality opponents.

Also on this point, few or no turnovers will help mitigate the other factors that have challenged the Ducks in their big games - rust and the time other big teams have had to prepare for the Oregon attack.

So, if the Ducks do not turn the ball over more than one time in the 2012 Rose Bowl, I believe they will win. I REALLY like Oregon's chances if they hold onto the ball. However, if they turn it over 2 or more times, I don't think they will win. That's the history folks. The turnovers hurt in the moment, but they exponentially put the Ducks behind the eight ball.

If the Ducks hang on to the ball, they win. If not, they don't. So I'll go with that.

OK, you thin I'm weaseling out without a real prediction? Ducks with 1 turnover or less win 31-24. Ducks turn it over 2 or more times, they lose 27-14.

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