This game also is a rematch of the 2012 Rose Bowl. Oregon beat Wisconsin 45-38 in one of the highest-scoring editions of the game. Wisconsin edged out Penn State for the Big Ten’s berth in the Granddaddy of Them All despite the Badgers’ 34-21 loss to Ohio State in the conference title game Saturday night. The Badgers and the Nittany Lions finished with the same regular season record, and Wisconsin gave a tough game to the playoff-bound Buckeyes before falling in the second half.
Oregon has reached the Rose Bowl four times in the past 11 years under three coaches, winning in two of those first three trips. The Ducks won the Pac-12 title for the first time in five years by beating Utah on Friday, and they are back in Pasadena for the first time since that 2014 season, when Marcus Mariota propelled Oregon to a 59-20 thrashing of Florida State and a subsequent spot in the national championship game.
The Badgers are in Pasadena for the first time under coach Paul Chryst, who took over in 2015. He has won three conference division championships, earning trips to the Cotton and Orange bowls after the previous two.
Wisconsin started 6-0 this season before back-to-back losses to Illinois and Ohio State knocked it out of the national title picture. The Badgers rebounded with four straight wins, including a 38-17 road thrashing of Minnesota last week to earn the division title.
Oregon earned its spot in Pasadena with a 37-15 victory over Utah in the Pac-12 championship game Friday, extending the Ducks’ strong second season under coach Mario Cristobal all the way to Pasadena.
The Ducks largely have been outstanding since their season-opening, 27-21 loss to Auburn in Arlington, Texas. They blazed to the Pac-12 North title with relative ease, beating Washington and Southern California on the road on the way to their school’s best regular season record since that run to the Rose Bowl five years ago.
Only a curiously tepid performance in a 31-28 road loss to Arizona State on Nov. 23 prevented the Ducks from being in the playoff conversation, but they proved their worthiness for Pasadena by knocking off the higher-ranked Utes in the conference title game.
Cristobal has a Pac-12 title and a Rose Bowl berth in just his second season in charge of the Ducks, whose previous successes under Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich have been extended by the former offensive line coach who took over the program two years ago when Willie Taggart bolted for Florida State.
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