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Oregon Squeaks By Wisconsin, 45-38, In Rose Bowl Shootout

All-American RB LaMichael James Celebrates Oregon's Rose Bowl Win
Harry How, Getty Images

The Rose Bowl between #5 Oregon and #10 Wisconsin was expected to be a shootout, and the two teams lived up to the hype in the highest scoring Rose Bowl in history. Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas had just two carries, but made them count on touchdown runs of 91 and 64 yards and the Ducks scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to secure a 45-38 victory.

The two high-powered offenses did not disappoint early on, scoring on 10 of their first 15 combined drives. Oregon rolled up 621 yards of total offense, led largely by the rushing attack of Thomas (155 yards, two touchdowns) and LaMichael James (159 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries). But quarterback Darron Thomas also did damage with his arm, going 17 for 23 for 268 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei was named Player of the Game after catching eight passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns.

Wisconsin’s offense was almost as prolific, rolling up 508 yards of its own. Heisman finalist running back Montee Ball rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown, his 39th score of the season, tying Barry Sanders’ single-season record. (Although, in fairness, Ball needed three more games than Sanders to set the record.) Quarterback Russell Wilson, the hyped transfer from North Carolina State, was efficient in leading the Badgers, going 19 for 25 for 296 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Unfortunately for the Badger faithful, all of Wisconsin’s points came in the first three quarters and they were unable to answer Oregon’s 10 fourth quarter points. Wilson’s interception was just his fourth of the season, but it proved to be costly, setting up the Ducks for the go-ahead score.

Down by seven late in the fourth quarter, Wisconsin had two chances to tie the game. But wide receiver Jared Abbrederis fumbled the ball away with 4:06 to play and the clock ran out on the Badgers on their final possession (although it took instant replay to confirm the clock ran out as Wilson was trying to spike the ball). Montee Ball was held to just three carries for zero yards in the final period.

The combined 83 points in this game broke the old record of 80, set by Iowa and Washington in 1991. This was Oregon coach Chip Kelly’s first bowl win and, ending one of the longer dry spells in college football, the Ducks’ first Rose Bowl win since 1917. Wisconsin has lost the Rose Bowl two years in a row, falling 21-19 last year to TCU.

 

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