The Grandaddy of them all, and the reason we can’t have a better college football playoff. This game was once snark proof, but that era ended with Keith Jackson and Big Ten Football competitiveness.
Wisconsin: The Badgers’ season was…eventful. They sputtered early and were unfortunate late. They lost five games, by a combined six points in regulation. Sanctions saw Wisconsin reach the Big Ten Title Game, where they dropped 70 on Nebraska. Then Bret Bielema left for Arkansas, leaving Barry Alvarez to coach the Badgers in their third-straight Rose Bowl. Alvarez is 3-0 all-time in the Rose Bowl, 8-3 in bowl games.
Stanford: No Luck? No problem. Stanford lost its star quarterback, but did not regress. The Cardinal went 11-2, only losing 17-13 at Washington and at Notre Dame in overtime on a controversial no touchdown call. The Cardinal won four-straight against Top 20 teams to close the season. Stanford reached the Rose Bowl on their third consecutive BCS trip. Had they uncovered quarterback Kevin Hogan earlier, they might have returned to Miami. This team is not going anywhere.
Key: Which Stanford run defense shows up? The Cardinal run a competent, well-coached offense, but they are not explosive. Wisconsin’s defense can keep them in check. Will we see the Stanford that was No. 1 nationally in yards per carry heading into the BCS Title Game? Or, will we see the Stanford that gave up 277 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries during the Pac 12 Title Game? The Badgers were held below 3.7 yards per carry in all five losses.
Prediction: Stanford played eight one-score games this season. Wisconsin played seven. We’re taking the points. [Pick: Wisconsin +3.5]