Analysts Break Down Rose Bowl
More and more teams in college football are featuring offenses that include elements of the spread, option quarterbacks and unilateral speed.
Tuesday’s Rose Bowl won’t be exhibiting that trend.
When No. 6 Stanford takes on Wisconsin at 2 p.m. PT on ESPN, it will be a rebirth of your parents’ college football. Yes, there will be traditional running attacks. There will be huge offensive lines with strong tight ends. There will be fullbacks.
“It’s going to be a great matchup,” ESPN analyst Brian Griese said. “It’s going to be a physical, hard-hitting ballgame. That’s what this game should be. This is not going to be the Oregon spread. It’s going to be traditional, smashmouth football.”
The Cardinal got to Pasadena by winning the Pac-12 North and then defeating UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Despite the loss of No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Andrew Luck to the Indianapolis Colts, Stanford continued to be one of the top programs in college football. The Cardinal did so by displaying a dominant defense, a potent running attack behind tailback Stepfan Taylor and versatile quarterback Kevin Hogan.
The Cardinal take an 11-2 record into the Rose Bowl, with the only losses coming at Washington and at Notre Dame, which will play in the BCS championship game next week.
“Everyone was waiting for Stanford to fall on its face, but they keep plugging in guys,” Griese said. “Hogan looks impressive. He’s more mobile than Andrew Luck. It will be interesting to see how he handles the big stage. But there’s no secret to Stanford’s success. It’s their defense.”
The Cardinal’s defense, which ranks third nationally in stopping the run (87.69 yards allowed per game), will be tested against Wisconsin two-time consensus first team All-American Montee Ball, a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2011. Ball ranks seventh in the country in rushing (133.08 rushing yards per game).
“It’s a terrific matchup between force and force,” FOX analyst Charles Davis said. “Stanford’s defense has been awfully good all year long. For Stanford, stopping the run has been a huge key to their success this year. Montee Ball is going to face one of the best run defenses in the country, and Stanford’s defense will go against one of the best runners they’ve had to face.”
Of course, Stanford has an elite running back of its own in Taylor, who ranks 20th nationally with 110.92 yards per game. In a conference full of top running backs – the Pac-12 features the country’s leading rusher in Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey and the No. 5 ground-gainer in Oregon’s Kenjon Barner – Taylor may be overlooked by some.
“Stepfan is one of those overlooked backs in the country,” Davis said. “He’s one of the better players that no one talks about. This is a kid that’s really dependable but always gets overlooked. But then you look at his numbers and you go, ‘My goodness, who is that? That kid’s an All-American.”