As Wilson, Ball and co. were taking their final snaps in the victory formation last Saturday, my thoughts were occupied by two things: 1. Holy Hell how did any of that just happen and 2. This defense is going to get toasted against the Ducks.
My consolation was that Wisconsin's offense is very good in its own right, and that at least we'd own a slight mental edge by falling slightly less precipitously from the national title running compared to preseason expectations, nor as recently as the week before the conference championship game. I hoped for a Chris Petersen-esque grumpiness about an unfair system after Oregon's win over UCLA. Instead, there was a whole lot of this:
"If you're going to be the best and win the conference title, it's important that you carry the conference flag and win the Rose Bowl," Jordan said.
Ending Oregon's misery in the big game wouldn't hurt either.
"I think it would mean exactly that - a validation of where this program is and where it's headed," running backs coach Gary Campbell said. "Obviously, we've been close, and our goal is to win this game. We've been in a lot of these games but we want to win one."
One thing a third BCS game in as many years should assure, guard Carson York said, is nobody will shrink from the moment.
"I think both BCS games we thought we had a chance to win it and we were close'" he said. "I think there's pretty much a zero-percent chance of anybody being stuck in awe when we get there. All of these guys here have spent their careers in situations like this. We just have to win the darn thing."
Program validation? Avenging recent bowl struggles? Carrying the conference banner? The Ducks hit all of the talking points that I hoped were swinging in Wisconsin's favor following the win over Michigan State. This won't be one of the several bowl games every season where only one of the participating parties seem interested. My thought was that it might be, thanks to the BCS era's break-up of the traditional Big Ten-Pac 10 matchup diluting its importance. Turns out the Rose Bowl is alive and well and relevant, despite my hopes that Oregon would be heading to Pasadena still upset that they weren't somewhere else.
Instead, fans will be getting a game as old school as it gets, with two teams playing as if Roses were the only thing that ever mattered. I'm contractually obligated to say that that is a wonderful thing. And it is. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, that just means that there won't be any "no respect" bulletin board material to draw power from.
"Let's see. We've got Russell Wilson and Montee Ball on one side, LaMichael James and De'Anthony Thomas on the other. Throw in 72 degrees at kickoff and sunset over the San Gabriel Mountains and ... booking flight now."
This year's Rose Bowl swag includes a $550 shopping spree.
Chryst-watch 2012: In talks with Illinois and Kansas, but other candidates are being considered first.
Odds on Montee Ball winning the Heisman: So you're saying there's a chance?
Ooh! A Rose Bowl anthem! Guys, gather around quick! Oh boy! [Note: It's the same song as last year, except more terrible.]
KVAL in Oregon on the last time these two teams faced.
Cornerback Cliff Harris, an All-American in 2010, has been dismissed from the Ducks in vague violation of team rules. He apologized on Facebook, suggesting that there is much more to the story than he can let on.
Behind enemy lines: Oregon Live says a lot of nice things about Wilson and Ball.
Opposing fans graciously pimp Montee Ball over at Off Tackle Empire.
Ball even more graciously admits that he'd give Heisman his vote to Robert Griffin III if he had the chance.
If you love comparing stuff to other stuff, you'll love this year's Heisman finalists as superheroes.
Brian Butch is getting his chance with the New Orleans Hornets.
Badgers get back on track after hammering an improved UW-Green Bay squad.
Wrapping up: "Dr. Pepper is seriously the best thing that has ever happened to me." Thank you Ivon Padilla-Rodriguez for making life wonderful.