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Fearless Rick's 2011-12 College Football BCS Bowls - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | January 2-6, 2012

All times Eastern - Click here for late games.

Rose Bowl. Pasadena, CA
5:00 pm Wisconsin vs. Oregon (-6, 72) - Both teams finished with 11-2 records but were victims of even higher expectations, especially in the minds of oddsmakers. Against the spread, the Ducks were just 6-6-1, while the Badgers were only slightly better, at 7-6.

For Oregon, their 38-35 late-season loss to USC, ended a nine game winning streak as well as ending speculation that the Ducks would play for the national championship, their only other loss to LSU, a 40-27, turnover-filled disaster in the first game of the season.

Oregon is built on speed and an attacking mentality shared by running backs LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner and QB Darron Thomas. Their high-speed, spread offense resulted in an average of 46.2 points per outing, third in the nation, though Wisconsin is close behind at #4 with 44.6 ppg.

Defensively, the Badgers have an edge with the 6th best scoring defense in the country, yielding on 17 points per game. Wisconsin's specialty is defending the pass, but they are more than adequate to handle Oregon's playmakers on the perimeter.

Wisconsin started the season 6-0, then suffered its only two defeats back-to-back, losing at Michigan State, 37-31 on October 22, and then at Ohio State the following Saturday, 33-29. The Badgers responded by winning their four remaining Big Ten contests and then slipping past Michigan State, 42-39, in the conference championship game.

The key difference will be how well the Ducks withstand the pounding from Wisconsin's huge offensive line behind which RB Montee Ball rushed for 1759 yards and 32 TDs. QB Russell Wilson, who transferred from North Carolina State should have ample protection, throwing to his main targets, Nick Toon and Jared Abbrederis.

Oregon may not be able to force the pace of the game with their offense sitting on the bench and eventually, the bigger Badgers will wear out the Ducks' defense.

Bowl history also favors the Badgers, who won the Rose in 1999 and 2000, over UCLA and Stanford, respectively. Oregon lost to Penn State in 1995 and to Ohio State in 2010. Wisconsin lost last year's Rose Bowl, 21-19, to TCU.

Prediction: Badgers 41 Ducks 34


--- Story continues below ---



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Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, AZ
8:30 pm Stanford vs. Oklahoma State (-3 1/2, 74) - In what could be one of the most exciting and hotly-contested games of the season, the Oklahoma State Cowboys put their second-ranked offense (49.3 points, 557.0 yards per game) to the test against Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinals.

While Luck got plenty of press for his decision to return to Stanford for his senior year, the Cardinal plans were shattered when Oregon whipped them 53-30 on November 12, ending Stanford's nine game win streak to open the season. The Cardinal didn't lose again, closing out the regular season with wins over Cal and Notre Dame, though missing out on the conference title, which went to the Ducks.

Like Stanford, Oklahoma State also finished the season 11-1, their only loss a heartbreaking 37-31 defeat at Iowa State, after running up a 10-0 record. The Cowboys took care of business in their final regular season game, beating a depleted Oklahoma team, 44-10. The Cowboys are the champions of the Big 12.

Cowboy QB Brandon Weeden will likely match Stanford's Luck throw for throw. Weeden threw for 4328 yards, 34 TDs and 12 picks, his favorite target being Justin Blackmon, who caught 113 balls for 1336 yards. Stanford will be very much aware of Blackmon's presence on the field and will likely put him in double coverage situations or play a three-deep zone to keep the ball out of his hands.

When Stanford has the ball, the offense generally likes to pound the football with RB Stepfan Taylor, who rumbled for 1153 yards and eight TDs, setting up Luck's pocket passes or roll-out options.

Luck had 35 TDs and 9 picks, completing 70% of his passes for 3170. Stanford's defense is also a key, allowing just 20.3 points per game, compared to 25.8 for the Cowboys. Stanford scored 43.6 ppg, fifth in the country.

The Cowboys can score points in bunches, but so can Stanford and Oklahoma State doesn't defend well, allowing an average of 25.8 points per game and a whopping 180 yards per game on the ground.

Taylor should have a field day for Stanford and Luck will have plenty of opportunities for down field throws though the Cowboys will keep pace.

Prediction: Cardinal 38 Cowboys 36

All times Eastern - Click here for late games

Copyright 2011, 2012, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.

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