MADISON, Wis. Here's a helpful recommendation for fans planning to watch Oregon and Wisconsin's football teams play in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2: Make sure not to leave for a refrigerator run or an extended bathroom break. You'll probably miss a touchdown or two.
Nearly a month remains until Pac-12 champion Oregon and Big Ten champion Wisconsin meet in "The Granddaddy of Them All," but early returns suggest it will be one of the more entertaining matchups among the 35 bowl games taking place this season because of the high-scoring nature of each teams' offense.
BCS No. 5 Oregon (11-2) ranks third in the country in scoring offense at 46.1 points per game. Tenth-ranked Wisconsin (11-2) is right behind in fourth, averaging 44.5 points.
Yes, this year's Rose Bowl already has all the makings of a memorable shootout.
"The great thing about this bowl game matchup is it's kind of like the direct opposites of offensive philosophy," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. "Chip (Kelly) and Oregon like to score at a very rapid rate, and we like to hold the ball and score as often as possible for the most amount of time. It's a very unique situation and something that we're excited about to play in."
Although the Badgers use a methodical, less quick-strike approach, the results on the scoreboard have been nothing short of spectacular. By defeating Michigan State 42-39 in the Big Ten title game, the Badgers posted their ninth 40-point game this season.
"You kind of follow scores during the year," Ducks coach Chip Kelly said, "and it just seems like it's a pinball number sometimes when you're watching Wisconsin games."
Kelly's Ducks haven't been too shabby, either. Oregon, which hammered UCLA 49-31 in the Pac-12 championship game, has eclipsed the 40-point plateau 10 times this season.
Only three teams have reached 40 points in the last 20 Rose Bowls (USC in 1996 and 2008, and Texas in 2006). And there has never been a game in the 97-game history of the Rose Bowl in which both teams scored 40 points.
If that magic number is surpassed this time around, the running backs and quarterbacks from each team presumably will be a key reason.
Oregon running back LaMichael James leads the nation in yards per game at 149.6. Wisconsin running back Montee Ball is fourth at 135.3, and his 38 total touchdowns rank second in NCAA history behind only Barry Sanders' 39. Both James and Ball are finalists, along with Alabama's Trent Richardson, for the Doak Walker Award, given to the top running back in the country.
"You have two of the premier running backs in the world of college football on the same field," Bielema said. "It's going to be a unique challenge and one that we'll embrace the opportunity to prepare for. When we get to January 2nd, it will be very, very special."
The quarterback battle should be equally intriguing. Oregon's Darron Thomas has thrown 30 touchdowns with six interceptions, while Wisconsin's Russell Wilson has 31 touchdown passes with three interceptions.
Kelly said Wisconsin's offense was difficult to contain because of the number of players that contribute on a regular basis. In addition to Ball, wide receivers Nick Toon and Jared Abbrederis, tight end Jacob Pedersen and running back James White have all scored at least six touchdowns this season.
"It's actually really fun to watch," Kelly. "They've got a lot of weapons. It's not just a mistake. I think people would look and say it's a big, strong, offensive line that runs the ball with the complement of Russell. I've been a huge fan of Russell when he was at N.C. State.
I think you're playing arguably against the best quarterbackrunning back combination in college football right now. It's fun to watch them on tape. Hopefully it won't be as fun when we see them in person. But it's going to be a battle trying to shut those guys down."
Of course, Oregon's offense won't be easy to shut down, either. Running back Kenjon Barner, tight ends Colt Lyerla and David Paulson and receivers Lavasier Tuinei and De'Anthony Thomas all have scored at least five touchdowns often before defenses even know what happened.
Oregon's average time of possession this season is 25 minutes, or 10 minutes less than its opponent. Wisconsin, meanwhile, possesses the ball for 32 minutes per game, four more than the opposition.
"It's like opposite ends of the spectrum," Bielema said. "They want to run as many plays as they can and we want to slow it down the best we can. It will be fun."
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