But then, a funny thing happened in the final 15 minutes. The Ducks held the ball for a whopping 10:09, helping the defense hold the Badgers scoreless and hold on for a 45-38 win in the Rose Bowl.
Wisconsin had a 30:51-14:09 edge through the first three quarters en route to a 38-35 lead.
Oregon linebacker Michael Clay credited the quick-strike offense he faces everyday in practice for creating the necessary conditioning.
"If we're ready to go against our offense, we're ready against any offense. We rotate guys left and right," said Clay, who finished with 13 tackles, two for loss and a fourth-quarter fumble recovery.
"We were just wearing on their offensive linemen and just got in the backfield a lot more."
One of the key members of that defensive rotation was linebacker Kiko Alonso, who redeemed himself after being suspended for the season-opening loss against LSU.
The redshirt junior was named the game's defensive MVP after posting five tackles, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks and an interception.
"We knew he could do it all along," said Dewitt Stuckey, who rotated with Alonso at middle linebacker. "It just took him to build his confidence and take care of his business for him to go out on the field and do that. He did that tonight."
The offense did its part with a pair of drives that consumed 5:54 and 3:50 respectively, reminiscent of the clock-killing march at California last season.
"I had that same thought," offensive lineman Mark Asper said. "I was glad our defense put us into a situation where we could do that, try to eat up clock and grind things out."
Oregon freshman sensation De'Anthony Thomas ended his first year in style, rushing for 155 yards and two touchdowns on his only two carries.
"He's a fast guy," Wisconsin linebacker Kevin Claxton said. "That was part of our game plan to try to keep him inside and not let him get to the edge. Those few plays that he got to the edge, he hurt us.
"He's a great player and he's going to be good for many years."
His first score, a 91-yard scamper up the middle to end the first quarter set a new record for longest rush in the Rose Bowl since Tyrone Wheatley's 88-yard run in the 1993 installment for Michigan.
Thomas finished with 314 all-purpose yards, one yard shy of tying another Michigan man, Steve Breaston and his 315 yards in the 2005 Rose Bowl.
Oregon and Wisconsin were expected to participate in shootouts last bowl season, but a barrage of points never materialized.
This year, pitted against one another, the Ducks and Badgers produced a scoring frenzy that rewrote the Rose Bowl record book in the process.
The 83 total points were the most in the game's 98-year history, edging the 80 points in Washington's 46-34 win over Iowa in 1991.
The schools also combined for 56 points in the first half, most ever in the first two quarters and breaking the record 53 points Texas and USC put up after halftime in the 2005 thriller for the BCS title.
However, the 1,129 combined yards of offense came one yard shy of the record total produced by the Longhorns and Trojans.
It also marked the second consecutive Rose Bowl in which Wisconsin and its opponent started the game off strong. After spotting TCU a 14-10 lead in the opening quarter last season, the 14-14 tie set a new mark for points after 15 minutes.
In all, nine Rose Bowl records were tied or broken.
Record Setting, Part Two
With his three-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball tied former Oklahoma State great Barry Sanders with his 39th touchdown this season.
Ball finished with 164 yards rushing on 32 carries and also caught four passes for 51 yards.
Record Setting, Part Three
Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson broke the single-season record for passing efficiency, edging out Baylor signal-caller and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.
Wilson threw for 296 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, extending his NCAA-record streak of games with a scoring toss to 38.
Konz, who returned after missing the last three games of the regular season with a dislocated ankle, said he was nowhere near ready to make a declaration.
"I just want to think over everything, how well I play and how much I believe I need to keep pushing before I'm comfortable with making that step," he said. "My family, I've got to talk to them a lot."
Camp Randall West, Autzen South
Both schools brought their fourth quarter traditions to the Rose Bowl, first by playing House of Pain's "Jump Around" for the Badgers, followed by "Shout" by Otis Day and the Knights for the Ducks.
The song, originally made famous by the Isley Brothers, was featured in the film "Animal House, shot on campus in Eugene.
Oregon used chrome helmets for the first time, prompting a barrage of Twitter jokes as they reflected the unseasonably warm Southern California sun.
Asper, the most quotable Duck, had his fair share of one-liners.
"We took them outside and my thought was, ‘There is quite a bit of glare coming off these things,'" he said. "Luckily the sun started to go down behind those bleachers."