The 2020 Rose Bowl features two extremely talented teams that have something left to prove in this bowl game. Oregon, out of the Pac-12, could have made the playoffs if it wasn’t for a bad loss late in the year against Arizona State. Wisconsin, out of the Big 10, had a strong start to its season but lost to Ohio State twice and Illinois on the road. The Badgers would love to end the year with a Rose Bowl victory, as would Oregon. Winning the Rose Bowl is still a huge accomplishment so there shouldn’t be any worry about the teams giving their best effort on New Year’s Day.
While we haven’t used many “leans” in our college football betting articles this season, I will use leans here when it’s appropriate. A lean is the direction I’m thinking the game will go but I’m not fully committed to backing it with a play. When I’m putting my own money down, that is what I call a “pick.”
Oregon vs. Wisconsin moneyline
Everything was going swimmingly for Wisconsin until it faced Illinois on the road in mid-October. The Badgers, ranked sixth in the country, were coming off of back-to-back shutouts of Kent State and Michigan State, and they lost outright to the Illini. The Badgers went on to lose two more times, eliminating them from playoff consideration.
Wisconsin features one of the best running backs in the country in Jonathan Taylor. However, it was the defense that was the story of the 2019 Badgers. Zach Baun has 12 sacks and two forced fumbles this season and if Oregon isn’t prepared to stop him, he could present a massive problem. On the year, Wisconsin is only giving up 16.1 points per game.
The return to school for Eugene native Justin Herbert has been solid as the junior QB led Oregon to its first Pac-12 title since Marcus Mariota left. Oregon’s blowout of Utah in the Pac-12 Championship was unexpected but it gives Ducks fans a lot of confidence that their team can bring home the Rose Bowl. However, it was the rushing attack of the Ducks that really was the story against the Utes. CJ Verdell ran for 208 yards and two long touchdowns as Utah’s defense gave up 239 yards on the ground, by far the most they had yielded all season.
The Badgers defense is similar to Utah’s in that both teams are very physical up front. Wisconsin is only giving up 102.4 yards rushing per game and the D-line is full of NFL-caliber talent. One big difference between Utah and Wisconsin is the level of competition that they faced this season and while their stats are similar, who the Badgers were able to slow down is very different.
I just don’t think Oregon has seen a team like Wisconsin with its size, speed and strength. The Badgers faced Ohio State twice, so they aren’t going to be shocked by Oregon’s speed. Wisconsin beat Iowa on the road, so they aren’t going to struggle with playing a tough team away from home. I just think Wisconsin is the better team and will show it in this game.
Oregon vs. Wisconsin point spread
This point spread started below three and has inched up as money has come in on the Badgers. As long as this number stays at three or below, I feel pretty good about Wisconsin covering in this game.
The Badgers were 8-5 this year ATS. Against top level competition like Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa, and Minnesota, Wisconsin was a respectable 3-1 ATS. As a favorite, Wisconsin was also 7-4 ATS, including two wins by 21 points as three-point favorites against Michigan and Minnesota. Running back Jonathan Taylor is a star and will be a serious problem for Oregon, but the Ducks have seen strong offenses this year. It’s the Badger defense that has slowed down the likes of Ohio State and Minnesota this season that will end up being the difference.
Oregon went 7-6 ATS this season but went 1-2 down the stretch. In the two games this year that the Ducks were underdogs, they lost to Auburn but beat Utah outright. This is the first time this year that Oregon is catching points in back-to-back games. It’s their third game on a neutral field.
While the Ducks defense doesn’t give up many yards on the ground, Wisconsin is way better than your typical Pac-12 team. The Badgers are still one of the best teams in the country, even with their three losses, and a Rose Bowl win still means a lot to the fans in Madison. I think the Badgers will get back to dominating on both sides of the ball and I’m going to lay the small number here.
Oregon vs. Wisconsin over/under (total)
Betting on the total in games involving Wisconsin this year has been a little tricky. Early in the year, no one could score on the Badgers, thus the under hit in six of their first eight games. Later in the year, though, the over went 4-1 as better offenses came onto the schedule and teams had enough film on Wisconsin to attack them successfully. The Badgers defense showed signs of coming back to early season form over the last two games by holding Minnesota and Ohio State well below their season averages.
Oregon also had an up and down year with totals as the Ducks ended the year with the over hitting five of their last seven. However, the over hit just once over in the first five games of the season. The total of this game is below 52. Only three Oregon games all year had a total below 52 and the under went 1-2 in those contests.
In bowl games, it’s often hard to play the under because of the time teams have to prepare for the defenses they will be facing. While Wisconsin has the better defense, Oregon’s offense should be able to put some points up on the board. I think both teams are going to score but I’m not sure how many Oregon will put up. Because of that, I’m just going to lean towards the over.