EUGENE — Oregon will take on Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
The Ducks (11-2) moved up to No. 6 in the final College Football Playoff rankings after beating Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game and will face the No. 8 Badgers (10-3) Jan. 1 in Pasadena (2 p.m., ESPN).
“An honor to be selected to such a prestigious event, as good as it gets and as big as it gets in college football,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “The opportunity to play against such a great, storied program like Wisconsin, certainly have all the respect in the world for their program and how they do things and their accomplishments. Thrilled and honored to be here.”
Wisconsin holds a 3-2 edge in the all-time series but the Ducks won the last meeting, 45-38 in the 2012 Rose Bowl. Badgers coach Paul Chryst, who served as offensive coordinator at Oregon State from 1997-98 and 2003-04, was Wisconsin’s OC against the Ducks in the 2012 game.
“Been impressed with what Oregon’s done throughout the years,” said Chryst, who went 2-2 in the Civil War while with the Beavers. “Different coaches, different players but they’ve been playing at a high level. I appreciate the time that I had to spend out there and playing at Oregon State and then the last time I coached as an assistant in the Rose Bowl was against Oregon. Obviously they’ve done a great job and continue to do that and nothing but respect.”
Cristobal and Oregon’s coaching staff have been on the road recruiting ever since immediately after Friday’s Pac-12 Championship Game against Utah but he was able to watch most of the Big Ten Championship Game between Wisconsin and Ohio State Saturday night during the course of in-home visits.
“Hard fought football game,” Cristobal said. “Had a chance to watch and I’ve certainly watched Wisconsin not only this year but in years past. Talented, physical, disciplined, tough, well-coached football team. I think the country has seen that from many years so certainly a tremendous amount of respect for them.”
The Rose Bowl will feature two teams built on running the ball, offensive line play and stout defenses.
Oregon’s CJ Verdell is coming off running for 208 yards and three touchdowns en route to being named MVP of the Pac-12 title game and has topped 1,000 rushing yards in back-to-back seasons. Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is second nationally with both 1,909 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground.
Ducks left tackle Penei Sewell and Badgers center Tyler Biadasz are two of the three finalists for the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top interior lineman.
“Two of the best not only offensive linemen, but offensive lines in the country,” Cristobal said. “Teams that pride themselves on physicality, certainly invest a lot in the strength and conditioning department. It all leads to the success of the running backs.
“Jonathan Taylor, who has more (career) rushing touchdowns than anyone in the country at this point and on his way another stellar season in the record books. Had a chance to watch him and extremely impressed by the entire operation.”
Chryst said he watched some of the Pac-12 Championship Game early on and is well aware of Justin Herbert’s abilities and the potency of Oregon’s offense.
“If you’re a fan of college football you know about Justin and you know about the explosiveness,” Chryst said. “It was a good football team and was impressive. I saw earlier than late in the (Pac-12 Championship) game and looking forward to watching all their tape and studying them. They’re in the Rose Bowl for a reason; that’s a heck of football team and it’ll be a good challenge for us.”
Oregon is 14-18 all-time in bowl games, including 3-4 in Rose Bowls, and is 3-5 all-time against Big Ten teams in bowl games, including a 1-3 mark in Rose Bowls. The Ducks won their last two Rose Bowl appearances, the last coming against Florida State in the 2015 CFP national semifinals.
Wisconsin is 19-27-1 all-time against Pac-12 teams, including a 5-5 mark in bowl games, and is 3-6 all-time in the Rose Bowl with three straight losses. The Badgers beat USC in the 2015 Holiday Bowl but lost four straight meetings with Pac-12 teams before that, including two Rose Bowls.