LOS ANGELES - It's unianimous. We all think the Badgers will leave the Rose Bowl victorious Saturday.
The Badgers have a lot of advantages in this game and they also have some noticeable disadvantages. I'm picking Wisconsin to win not only because of what I think will happen on the football field, but also because there's something about this team that tells me they will not accept defeat.
You have to be careful when weeding your way through coachspeak from both coaches and players, but there is something in these players' eyes right now that makes me believe they are going to come out firing on all cylinders tomorrow. TCU is a very good football team, but if the Badgers execute like we know they can, Wisconsin will win the Rose Bowl.
Adam Tupitza (11-1, +234): Wisconsin 31, TCU 30
Jake Harris (10-2, +199): Wisconsin 42, TCU 28
John Veldhuis (10-2, +241): Wisconsin 34, TCU 31
Adam Hoge (9-3, +238): Wisconsin 38, TCU 31
Phil Mitten (5-3, +154): Wisconsin 37, TCU 34
TCU's defense is good, but the bottomline is that they haven't played an offense as good as Wisconsin all year. The Badgers might average 43.3 points per game this year, but in their last three games they have scored 83, 48 and 70. Sure it was against Indiana, Michigan and Northwestern, but they scored 83 and 70!
Wisconsin leads the country in fewest turnovers and fewest penalties. Scott Tolzien is the most accurate quarterback in the nation (74.29 percent). The Badgers have the second-most rushing touchdowns (46) in the country. They're the only team to have three running backs who have gained at least 800 yards on the ground this season. In their last three games, Montee Ball and James White have combined for 977 yards and 16 touchdowns. Against both Ohio State and Iowa -- two teams allowing a combined 29.8 points per game -- the Badgers scored 31 points. And it's safe to say the offense is even better now than it was in those two wins.
Should I keep going?
The last decent team TCU played was San Diego State and the Frogs' defense allowed 28 points (SDSU had 35 total points because of a defensive touchdown). Southern Methodist scored 24 on the Frogs.
The point is, TCU's defense is not unstoppable. The Badger offense might be.
There is reason to be concerned though. TCU also boasts an offense that is averaging 43.3 points per game and Wisconsin's defense will likely have some trouble stopping the Frogs' offense.
There is also a huge problem for Wisconsin. His name is Jeremy Kerley. Wisconsin has had trouble with its special teams coverage all year and Kerley averages 28 yards per kick return and 12.93 yards per punt return. Both of those numbers are in the top 17 nationally. He hasn't found the end zone yet this year, but Wisconsin has allowed three special teams touchdowns this season. The Badgers rank 103rd in punt return defense and 106th in kick return defense. If there is an area that could cost Wisconsin the game, it's special teams.
All of this points to a high scoring game, but one Wisconsin can win. There was only one time this year when the Badger defense couldn't come up with a stop and that was in the loss to Michigan State. The unit is much better now and while it will allow some points, something tells me J.J. Watt is going to come up with big plays to keep Wisconsin ahead.
The team has executed all season long and there's no reason to think it will stop executing in the program's biggest game in a decade.
Who Has The Edge?
Special Teams: TCU