Rose Bowl: Stanford vs. Wisconsin — Everything You Need to Know
Stanford rolls into the Granddaddy of Them All after winning four consecutive games over ranked opponents. Wisconsin is appearing in its third consecutive Rose Bowl, but is seeking its first win since back-to-back victories in 1999-2000.
ROSE BOWL GAME PRESENTED BY VIZIO: Wisconsin (8-5) vs. #6 Stanford (11-2)
[Tuesday, January 1, at 5:00 p.m. ET on ESPN]
How They Got Here
Wisconsin lost three of its final four regular season games, all in overtime, to fall to third in the Big Ten Leaders division. However, with Penn State and Ohio State both on NCAA probation, the Badgers found the back door into the Big Ten title game, where they routed Nebraska, 70-31, to secure the automatic bid. Stanford won the Pac-12 title after closing its season with four straight wins over ranked opponents, including over then-#2 Oregon and back-to-back wins against UCLA to close the regular season and in the Pac-12 championship game.
When Wisconsin Has the Ball
The game could hinge on a strength-vs.-strength matchup as Wisconsin’s 12th-ranked rushing offense goes against a stifling Stanford unit that ranks third nationally in rush defense. This will be the final game for Badgers running back Montee Ball, the NCAA’s all-time leader in both rushing touchdowns (76) and total touchdowns (82). Freshman quarterback Joel Stave suffered a broken collarbone in a late October loss to Michigan State. He was expected to miss the rest of the season, but his recovery is reportedly ahead of schedule. As of press time, Wisconsin has not announced whether Stave or senior Curt Phillips will start. Whoever is under center will face a Stanford defense that ranks 84th in pass defense but improved late in the year, giving up just 193.6 yards per game in its last five outings.
When Stanford Has the Ball
Following the departure of Andrew Luck, Stanford has gotten the job done this year with defense. However, they are not without their share of offensive talent. Running back Stepfan Taylor has rushed for 1,442 yards (fourth in the Pac-12) and 12 touchdowns this season. He’ll face a tough task against a Wisconsin defense that ranks 23rd nationally in rush defense. Freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan has thrown for eight touchdowns and three interceptions in five games since taking over as the starter.
What to Know
The Badgers will be without former head coach Bret Bielema, who abruptly resigned to take the Arkansas job. However, Wisconsin will have plenty of experience on their side as Athletic Director Barry Alvarez will be returning to the sideline for one more game as the Badgers’ head coach. During his time as Wisconsin’s head coach, the Badgers won eight of 11 bowl games—including three Rose Bowls—after having won only one previous postseason game in school history. Stanford is hoping for its first Rose Bowl win since 1972, falling to Wisconsin in 2000 in the Cardinal’s only appearance since then. A win would secure Stanford's highest AP ranking since finishing #2 in 1940.
What to Watch For
Look for this one to be a close game, something with which both teams have a great deal of experience. All five of Wisconsin’s losses came by three points or in overtime. Meanwhile, three of Stanford’s final four wins came by four points or less. Don’t look for big passing numbers, as the two schools both rank the bottom 30 nationally in passing offense.