No. 8 Wisconsin (10-4, 7-2 B1G) cannot overcome turnovers and penalties en route to 28-27 loss to No. 6 Oregon (12-2, 8-1 PAC-12).
Wisconsin out-gained Oregon 322-to-204, but its four turnovers and nine penalties for 79 yards were too much to overcome.
From the opening kick, it was clear that it would be a close game.
Oregon opened the game with a 12-play, 75 yard drive that lasted just over five minutes and was capped off by a Justin Herbert, four-yard rushing touchdown.
Herbert would later add his second rushing touchdown of the first half on a 5-yard rush.
With the early 7-0 lead, Oregon kicked off to Aron Cruickshank, who returned said kick, 95 yards for a score. A Collin Larsh point after, would even up the score at 7-7.
Just like that Wisconsin answers back with a 95-yard kick return touchdown from Aron Cruickshank (@Ac_Hollywood_) to tie up the #RoseBowl. pic.twitter.com/gN0Qbw6baZ— Heat Check (@HCSBlaze) January 1, 2020
This was the second time this season that Cruickshank has returned a kick for a touchdown.
The momentum appeared to be well on Wisconsin’s side, as Jack Sanborn intercepted Herbert on Oregon’s following offensive play.
Wisconsin then cashed in on the short field, with a 44-yard field goal, by Larsh.
While Wisconsin was able to get off to a quick start thanks to special teams and a turnover, two Wisconsin turnovers, as well as some untimely penalties thwarted its offense early in the game.
While Oregon was able to capitalize on a Jack Coan interception and the short field that it provided, the Ducks struggled to move the ball against Wisconsin’s defense.
Of Oregon’s 204 total yards, the Ducks gained 138 yards on their three touchdown drives. While the Wisconsin defense held them to just 66 yards on their other 10 drives.
Wisconsin ended the first half of the game, scoring in the final two minutes of the half, for the tenth time in fourteen games this season.
Coan connected with Quintez Cephus on an 11-yard touchdown pass, with 11 seconds left. Cephus drew a pass interference call on a play earlier in the drive, which put Wisconsin in position to score the go ahead score.
Cephus finished the game with seven receptions for 59 yards, while Coan was 23-35 for 186 yards.
Wisconsin’s offensive trouble continued as the second half started, as Wisconsin’s opening drive of the second half stalled on a Coan incomplete pass to Cephus.
Wisconsin was 5-17 on third down in the game.
Wisconsin’s troubles got worse on fourth down, as punter Anthony Lotti fumbled the snap and Oregon’s Brady Breeze returned the fumble 31 yards for a touchdown.
Wisconsin was able to reclaim the lead on a Mason Stokke two-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-one.
Wisconsin also converted another fourth-and-one on the drive, with a 34-yard completion to Jonathan Taylor. The drive totaled 11-plays, 65 yards and just over seven minutes.
Taylor finished the game with 43 receiving yards and 94 rushing yards. Taylor also eclipsed the 2,000 yard rushing mark in the game, while moving to No. 4 on the all-time rushing list.
While Wisconsin struggled to convert on third down, Wisconsin was four-of-five on fourth down in the game and the only failed fourth down conversion was Lotti’s fumble.
Wisconsin’s offensive troubles resurfaced later in the fourth quarter, as Danny Davis fumbled on a jet sweep, which setup a 30-yard rushing touchdown by Herbert.
Wisconsin looked poised to reclaim the lead late in the fourth quarter, having just converted on third-down, on a Coan completion to Jake Ferguson.
However, on the play, Davis was penalized for offensive pass interference and Wisconsin was unable to convert the third-and-20 that followed.
“OPI” pic.twitter.com/Rs6vIoYTWY— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) January 2, 2020
Following a Conner Allen punt, Oregon moved the ball down the field amid some Wisconsin timeouts.
Oregon sealed the victory on third-and-three, with a Herbert completion to Juwon Johnson for 28 yards.
Johnson, who previously played in the Rose Bowl for Penn State and lost, was Oregon’s leading receiver in the game.
With the loss, Wisconsin has now lost four-straight Rose Bowls and falls to 0-2 against Oregon, in the Granddaddy of Them All. The Badgers host the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday, September 5th to open the 2020 season.