It’s New Year’s Eve, which means we’re just one day away from the 106th edition of the Rose Bowl Game between the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (10-3, 7-3 Big Ten) and the No. 6 Oregon Ducks (11-2, 8-1 Pac-12). Here’s a couple of things to know before the teams kick off in Pasadena, California tomorrow afternoon:
Jonathan Taylor will start for Wisconsin
While Wisconsin junior running back Jonathan Taylor will almost certainly declare for the NFL Draft in the next few months, he won’t be joining the growing list of draft prospects sitting out during bowl season.
“Oh yeah,” said Taylor after the Big Ten Championship game, when asked if he would be playing in Wisconsin’s bowl game. “I played with these guys throughout the season to earn the right to have a bowl game. And so especially after today, I want to make sure that I help these guys finish out right.”
Taylor ran for 1909 yards in 2019, bringing him to sixth all-time among FBS leaders in career rushing yards--now with 6080 total rushing yards over his three seasons at Wisconsin. Badgers’ head coach Paul Chryst incorporated Taylor into the passing game this season; Taylor hauled in a career-high 24 receptions for 209 yards and five receiving touchdowns, including the go-ahead score in Wisconsin’s division-winning victory at Minnesota in week 14.
Taylor needs 165 rushing yards in Wednesday’s Rose Bowl Game to move past USC’s Charles White for fifth-all time in FBS rushing yards.
Jack Coan is finally healthy
Wisconsin quarterbacks coach Jon Budmayr told reporters Monday that quarterback Jack Coan had been battling injuries since the team’s victory over No. 11 Michigan all the way back in September. Coan, nicknamed the “Long Island Lazer”, started all 13 games under center for the Badgers in 2019 despite the apparent nagging injuries that were not made public during the season. 2019 was Coan’s first full season directing the Wisconsin offense, and it was a huge success--he completed 70.1% of his passes and boasted a strong 17-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Coan will join Scott Tolzien (2011), Russell Wilson (2012), and Curt Phillips (2013) as quarterbacks to start for Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl this century. Wisconsin lost each of the three previous games to TCU, Oregon, and Stanford, respectively. Speaking of Oregon…
2012 Rose Bowl rematch
Wednesday’s Oregon-Wisconsin matchup will be the first meeting between the two teams since January 2, 2012 in the 98th edition of the Rose Bowl Game. Oregon, led by running backs LaMichael James and De’Anthony Thomas, rushed for 345 yards in a 45-38 victory over the Badgers. Thomas’ performance was one to remember, as the backup had just two carries all afternoon--a 91-yard TD rush and a 64-yard TD rush--to finish with a final stat line of: two carries, 155 yards, and two touchdowns. In his final game as a college quarterback, Russell Wilson was 19/25 with two touchdowns in the losing effort. Wisconsin’s 45 points allowed were the most against their defense during the 2011 season.
High-impact NFL Draft prospects
The matchup will feature eight NFL Draft prospects ranked inside CBS Sports’ top 100, headlined by Taylor (29) and Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert (31). Herbert was rumored to be drafted as high as top-five in the 2019 NFL Draft, but he elected to return back to school for his senior season and has ultimately hurt his draft stock (despite playing pretty well this fall). Wisconsin senior linebacker Zack Baun (86) is a name that is quickly rising up the draft boards--some scouts have even moved him into the first round discussion. His performance against a very fast Oregon offensive attack could have a huge impact on his draft evaluations for the spring.