No. 8 Stanford vs. Wisconsin
Tues., Jan. 1 – 5 p.m. ET, ABC
Pasadena, Calif. – Rose Bowl
Stanford and Wisconsin players will feel like they’re looking at themselves during film review sessions and when they hit the field on New Year’s Day.
This has less to do with the fact that both teams share the same cardinal and white color scheme and more that they play the same way.
The Cardinal would feel right at home in the Big Ten, where the Badgers are part of the old guard, sticking to traditional ways while others get sucked into this business of speeding up and spreading out.
Yup, the 99th edition of the Granddaddy of Them All will be your father’s football game and we love it.
Both teams have their heavy duty hammers.
Playing in its third consecutive Rose Bowl — but without coach Bret Bielema (Woo pig sooie!) who will be replaced by AD/interim coach Barry Alvarez — Wisconsin (8-5) will swing away with senior tailback Montee Ball, who has carried the football 900 times in his career for 5,040 yards and 76 rushing touchdowns. Yowza.
Pac-12 champion Stanford (11-2) has a similar senior weapon in Stepfan Taylor, who has 823 career carries for 4,212 yards and 39 scores.
The other key part of the backfields present differing stories.
Badger quarterback Curt Phillips is mainly under center to take snaps and hand off. The senior threw just eight passes in Wisconsin’s 70-31 thrashing of Nebraska in the Big Ten title game. Phillips did complete six of those attempts, but who’s really counting those things when your team rushes for 539 yards?
Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan, who got inserted into the lineup in the middle of the season, is just a freshman, but plays like a grizzled vet. He has led Stanford to five consecutive wins, including a monumental 17-14 overtime victory at Oregon and back-to-back victories over UCLA with division and conference titles on the line. This upcoming occasion doesn’t figure to be too big for the youngster.
Wisconsin ranks 12th nationally in rushing offense and 111th in passing. This plays right into the hands of Stanford, which owns the country’s third best rushing defense, allowing just 87.7 yards per game on the ground.
Ball will get his yards and maybe a score or two, but it won’t be enough to overtake the Cardinal, especially if it’s a close game.
Seven of Stanford’s 11 victories have been by seven points or less and it won two of its three overtime games (the only loss was that questionable one in South Bend).
All five of Wisconsin’s losses were by a touchdown or less (four by three points) and the Badgers dropped a trio of overtime games down the stretch.
Opening point spread: Stanford by 6 1/2
The pick: Stanford 24-17
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