The 2011 Rose Bowl featured Wisconsin's dynamic trio of runningbacks and the outcome of this year's edition will again hinge greatly on the production of UW's stable of backs.
Two seasons ago Wisconsin fans were mesmerized by the play of one of the best backfields in school history. The 1-2-3 punch of John Clay, Montee Ball and James White was unstoppable behind a stud-filled offensive line. Had Ball rushed for just four more yards, all three backs would have eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark on the season — simply absurd production.
In the Rose Bowl game against TCU — in which many fans were critical of the way former offensive coordinator Paul Chryst utilized the Badgers' three-headed monster — the trio rushed for a combined 231 yards on 41 carries (5.63 avg). But on eight carries, White ran for just 23 yards, so many fans wondered why the Badgers didn't hand it off to Clay (6.9 yd/carry) and Ball (6 yd/carry) more.
Again, the Badgers will travel to Pasadena with a backfield loaded with talent between Ball, White and Melvin Gordon. With two extra years of experience, Ball and White have made great strides during that time and with the physical specimen of Gordon back there as well, this year's trio certainly appears more dangerous than the 2010 backfield.
If the Badgers want a realistic shot to beat Stanford, they must utilize their runningbacks perfectly. They can't afford to be inefficient offensively or not exploit the Cardinal with their best players. Although Stanford is a much different team than TCU, a gameplan to effectively and creatively use their runningbacks should remain the same.
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