Many college football analysts pegged the Rose Bowl as a top three matchup this bowl season, and it's easy to see why. Both Oregon and Wisconsin have elite offenses that do things a bit differently. The Ducks bring the full-speed-ahead spread offense that many have come to associate with the Pac-12, while the Badgers use the smashmouth power running attack that has defined the Big Ten for decades. Because I have no life, I decided to briefly break down the offenses using five (admittedly semi-subjective) criteria: traditional statistics, advanced statistics, performance against elite defenses, personnel and coaching/intangibles.
Obviously, I'm no Oregon expert, so if my analysis is poorly founded or inaccurate, those of you from Addicted To Quack should feel free to let me know in the comments and offer up analysis of your own, as always.
The Ducks top the Badgers in total offense (515.2 to 466.9), scoring offense (46.2 to 44.6) and rush yards per game (295.7 to 237.4). Wisconsin does have an advantage in passing offense, but only by 15.5 yards per game. And besides, these teams are both focused on running the ball anyway. The Badgers do have a clear edge in turnovers. Wisconsin is tied with LSU for the fewest turnovers in the nation with eight, while Oregon committed a still-respectable 18 on the season. Slight advantage: Ducks.
Football Outsiders uses a stat they call S&P+ to determine offensive efficiency. You can visit the link for a full explanation, but basically, S&P+ tries to determine efficiency by accounting for strength of opponent and measuring success on a play-by-play basis (excluding plays that take place in a blowout situation), among other things. The Badgers are ranked No. 1 overall in offense S&P+ with the No. 1 most efficient pass offense and No. 2 most efficient rush offense. Oregon lags behind only a bit at No. 4 overall, with the No. 5 rush offense and No. 12 pass offense. Slight advantage: Badgers.
Performance against elite defenses
The Badgers have played five games against teams currently ranked in the top 30 in total defense (Michigan State, Ohio State, Illinois, Penn State and Michigan State again). In those games, the Badgers averaged 35 points and 373 yards per game. Oregon played three teams with defenses currently ranked in the top 30 (LSU, California and Stanford). The Ducks averaged 41 points and 428.3 yards in those games. Slight advantage: Ducks.
This is a tough category to judge because the two offenses are built so differently. The Ducks generally go for light and quick, while the Badgers go for big and bruising. Both teams have talented offensive lines that have been tailored perfectly to fit their respective offenses. Both have dual-threat quarterbacks who take advantage of play action and rarely make mistakes. The difference here is on the outside. The Badgers have two excellent receivers in Nick Toon and Jared Abbrederis, both of whom have over 800 receiving yards on the season. The Ducks top wideout, Lavasier Tuines, has only 40 catches for 441 yards. Slight advantage: Badgers.
Coaching and intangibles
Both teams lost their BCS bowl games last season and each has suffered a couple of heartbreaking losses this season. Oregon's Chip Kelly is regarded as one of the college football's top offensive masterminds. Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst gets a lot of respect himself, but has struggled with playcalling in big games in the past. Slight advantage: Oregon
Obviously, these measures are somewhat subjective and don't come close to telling the whole story, but I'd give the Ducks' offense the slightest of edges, thanks in large part to Chip Kelly, who has built a borderline elite program at Oregon. Wisconsin is well on its way to doing the same, but I'm not sure they're quite there yet. Of course, the Badgers will have a chance to prove me wrong come January 2.
Pittsburgh is reportedly interested in hiring Paul Chryst to fill its head coaching vacancy, though it doesn't seem like the interest is mutual, according to a source cited in the article.
Conversely, this report from The Pittsburgh Post Gazette says Chryst feels "he is ready to be a head coach." Hmm.
Todd McShay says Montee Ball can help his draft stock in the Rose Bowl "by showing the ability to be a workhorse back and keeping Wisconsin out of obvious passing situations." You don't say, Todd.
In the least surprising news of the morning, the Badgers are focused on the game, not the glamour of LA.
Here's a nice photo gallery from the Journal Sentinel showcasing Wisconsin's 2011 touchdowns.
The Badgers knocked off Savannah State last night in one of their last tune-ups before the Big Ten season begins.
Former Badger Jon Leuer agreed to a rookie contract with the Milwaukee Bucks yesterday.