No. 8 Wisconsin dominated No. 6 Oregon for much of the Rose Bowl in almost every facet of the game — except the turnover column.
The Badgers outgained the Ducks 322-209 and completely controlled the time of possession 38:03 to 20:57, but were doomed by four turnovers in a 28-27 loss. Three of those turnovers directly led to 21 Oregon points.
Late in the second quarter with his team leading 10-7, Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan was hit as he delivered a pass, causing the ball to be intercepted by Oregon’s Thomas Graham. Three plays later, Oregon QB Justin Herbert ran in from five yards out to give his team a 14-10 lead.
Wisconsin marched down the field and took a 17-14 lead right before halftime, but gave the lead right back early in the third. This time it was a special teams disaster — a fumble by punter Anthony Lotti — that resulted in a scoop-and-score touchdown by Oregon’s Brady Breeze to put the Ducks back in front, 21-17.
From there, however, Wisconsin would completely control the next 15 minutes of play. First, the Badgers embarked on an 11-play, 65-yard touchdown drive to retake the lead. Wisconsin converted two fourth downs along the way, including a fourth-and-1 handoff to fullback Mason Stokke for a score.
After forcing an Oregon punt, Wisconsin converted yet another fourth down on its next offensive series and eventually worked its way into the red zone. However, the drive stalled at the Oregon 9 and the Badgers settled for a short field goal, increasing the lead to 27-21 with 12:09 to play.
Oregon would stall yet again on its next drive, giving the ball back to Wisconsin with a chance to put the game on ice. Instead, disaster struck when receiver Danny Davis fumbled on an end around, giving the ball back to Herbert and the Ducks.
This time, Oregon made Wisconsin pay. Herbert, a likely first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft, had a rough day passing the ball. But he showed a different element to his game with two first-half rushing touchdowns. On the first play following the fumble, Oregon utilized Herbert’s legs again on a zone read.
As Wisconsin defenders crashed down on running back CJ Verdell, Herbert stiff-armed a Badgers player and burst into the open field for a 30-yard, go-ahead touchdown with 7:41 to go.
The stunned Badgers would get the ball back two more times, but could not muster much of anything. A controversial offensive pass interference penalty took a first down off the board and caused Wisconsin to punt back to Oregon.
Ultimately, the Ducks would pick up two first downs, run out the clock and emerge with a dramatic one-point win.
What does this mean for Oregon?
Let the Oregon hype begin!
With the win, the Pac-12 champion Ducks finish the season with a 12-2 record. And if it weren’t for an upset loss to Arizona State, the Ducks may have made it to the College Football Playoff.
Nonetheless, the Pac-12 title game win over Utah and a victory in the Rose Bowl is an excellent way to close out what was just Mario Cristobal’s second season as head coach. Moving forward, it’d be surprising if any other team was considered the Pac-12 favorite ahead of the 2020 season, even with Herbert moving on to the NFL.
Beyond that, don’t be surprised if you see home College Football Playoff projections for the Ducks next year. The biggest hole to fill, of course, will be quarterback. The Ducks will have four young quarterbacks — Tyler Shough, Cale Millen and four-star signees Jay Butterfield and Robby Ashford — in camp next year. But could Cristobal look to the transfer portal?
Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel reported that Oregon has interest in Jamie Newman, who announced his decision to leave Wake Forest earlier this week. Newman threw for 2,868 yards and 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while rushing for 574 yards and six scores this season.
What does this mean for Wisconsin?
More than anything, this was a really disappointing loss for Wisconsin. The Badgers, who finish with a 10-4 record, shook off two mid-season losses to win the Big Ten West and even gave mighty Ohio State a scare in the conference championship game. Those efforts put the Badgers ahead of Penn State in the Big Ten bowl pecking order, sending them to Pasadena.
The loss snapped a five-game bowl winning streak for Wisconsin, but continued a tougher streak. Wisconsin is now 3-7 all-time in the Rose Bowl and has lost the game four consecutive times — 2010, 2011, 2012 and now 2020. The Badgers last won the Rose Bowl in 1999.
Wisconsin, along with Minnesota and Iowa, will be one of the favorites to win the Big Ten West next season.
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