Editor's note: Eugene Weekly asked Isthmus to provide some commentary explaining why Wisconsin will beat Oregon in the Rose Bowl this year. They ran the Isthmus piece alongside one from their own prognosticator's, which appears below.
1. The snub. Nothing motivates college football players like being snubbed. The Heisman voters told running back LaMichael James that he was worse this year than last year. The Pac-12 coaches decided that quarterback Darron Thomas did not merit even an honorable mention on the All-Pac-12 Team. Nobody seems to have heard of Lavasier Tuinei (he's a receiver). If these guys and their Duck teammates get tired of being snubbed and decide the Rose Bowl is a good place to make a statement, watch out Wisconsin.
2. The whispers. Chip Kelly has run up an incredible 33-6 record in three years as Oregon's head coach. But, against top-20 teams outside the Pac-12, Kelly's teams are only 1-4. That's not enough losses to cause real concern, but it's enough to fuel whispers that Oregon is an over-uniformed, over-rated program that feasts on weak conference opponents and can't win big games. This group of Oregon Ducks should know there is only one way to silence those whispers for good -- by thumping Wisconsin.
3. The forward pass. Badger backers say this Wisconsin team is not from the old Big Ten, where coaches thought a forward pass meant asking the barmaid out for bratwurst. That may be true, but these Badgers have not seen a passing game like Oregon rolls. Darron Thomas has not been asked to win many games, but he may have to win the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin ranks as one of the best pass defenses in the country, but it rang up most of those numbers against weak passing teams. The Badgers got lit up twice by Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins. Wisconsin's defensive backs are not as fast as Oregon's receivers and the Badgers' best cover guy -- Antonio Fenelus -- is 5'9". Lavasier Tuinei goes 6'5". Look for Lavasier and tight end David Paulson to catch balls and score points.
4. Big and slow versus small and fast. Wisconsin's starting offensive linemen average roughly 320 pounds each -- bigger than most offensive lines in the NFL. Oregon's defense is smaller but faster, with really quick linebackers. It's a classic showdown -- will the Badger blockers wear out from trying to chase down the faster Ducks, or will the Duck defenders wear out from getting leaned on by beefy Badgers? If Wisconsin scores first and can pound on the Ducks between the tackles, then it might be a long day for the Green and Gold, Gray and Lightning, Black and White, or whatever Nike rolls out on Jan. 2. But if Oregon can score early and play the game out in open space with lots of passes, screens, options and sweeps, then the Ducks win. Remember -- the dinosaurs were really big, and we all know what happened to them.
5. The pace. Since Chip Kelly started speeding up college football a few years ago, lots of teams have tried to turn up the tempo. But the Badgers have not seen anyone play with the frenetic urgency of the Ducks -- who often are ready and waiting to snap the ball as soon as the officials let them. Oregon's hyper-speed can wreak havoc with the Badgers, making it difficult for them to substitute defenders, call defenses or catch their breath. If Oregon can overcome television timeouts and the officials to get their hurry up rolling, they should score a lot of points and win.