3 Keys To Wisconsin

Throughout the college football season, eDuck Sports has examined the "3 keys" to Oregon victory leading up to each of their games this year. In this season's final installment, we'll take a look at what it will take for the Ducks to knock off the No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers in the 98th Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena.

1. Dictate Tempo

Since Oregon head coach Chip Kelly took the reigns of the Oregon football program before the 2009 season, the Ducks have soared to unprecedented heights in their program's history in only three short years. The 98th Rose Bowl Game marks Kelly and the Ducks third consecutive trip to a BCS bowl game in as many seasons, with Oregon coming off a magical run to the BCS National Championship game in 2010. Without a doubt, Oregon's recent run of success rivals that of many of college football's super-elite, but what the Ducks can't lay claim to is a signature win over a high-profile team outside of the Pac-12 Conference. Duck fans are certainly familiar with the growing list of schools that have left bittersweet tastes in their mouths each of the last three seasons (Boise State, Ohio State, Auburn and LSU) and many believe the January 2 game versus Wisconsin in Pasadena is a must-win for Oregon if they desire to be truly recognized as one of the nation's preeminent programs. To do that, the Ducks must avoid the curiously slow starts that have plagued them in each of the four aforementioned non-conference losses, thus dictating the pace and tempo from opening kickoff to final whistle will be paramount. It's no secret that Oregon likes to play as if they've got ants in their pants on offense; constantly rushing to the line of scrimmage and ripping off plays that test opposing defenses ability to defend the width and breadth of the field; sideline-to-sideline and endzone-to-endzone. However, the Ducks are facing a team that is more or less the antithesis of that particular philosophy. Though extremely potent on offense, Wisconsin prefers to possess the ball for long stretches of time, picking their way methodically down the field using a mixture of a smashmouth run game and play action passing attack to defeat their opponents. In many ways, the Badgers are a fair comparison to Stanford, a team whom the Ducks have had tremendous success against each of the past two seasons. In those games against the Cardinal, the Ducks excelled at using their universe of speed against the slower, plodding types of Stanford; keeping their pedal to the metal for four quarters and forcing the Cardinal to play at a rate they weren't equipped to maintain. If Oregon can achieve similar success against Wisconsin, expect the Ducks to bring home their first Rose Bowl victory since 1917.

2. Hold Wilson In Check

Wisconsin junior running back Montee Ball might have been the guy representing the Badgers in New York City in early December as one of five Heisman Trophy finalists, but senior quarterback Russell Wilson is the fuse that ignites everything for Wisconsin on offense. After transferring from North Carolina State this past summer where he was a two-time All-ACC quarterback in 2008 and 2010, Wilson has made a seamless transition quarterbacking the Badgers in his first and final season in Madison. Before being barely edged out by Baylor quarterback and eventual Heisman winner Robert Griffin III on the final weekend of the college football season, Wilson was poised to lead the nation in passing efficiency with a 191.6 rating; throwing 31 touchdowns against only three interceptions this season. Along with his impeccable numbers throwing the football, Wilson is a superb athlete who is more than capable of defeating defenses with his feet if plays break down. Though he doesn't possess the awesome size/speed combination of a Terrelle Pryor or Cam Newton (two Amazonian quarterbacks the Ducks have faced each of the past two seasons in bowl games), Wilson might be the best decision maker Oregon has faced in Kelly's tenure. Making the Badgers one-dimensional and creating pressure, while still containing Wilson when flushed out of the pocket, is a monumental task that must be completed.

3. Win The Trenches

Besides slow starts and a lack of continuity on offense following long layoffs between games, Oregon's losses to Boise State, Ohio State, Auburn and LSU the past three seasons had plenty to do with the Ducks getting physically beaten at the point of attack on both sides of the ball. In each of those games, the offensive and defensive lines were neutralized -- if not manhandled -- by opposing units who were just flat out nastier than Oregon. Though the Badger defensive line isn't expected to provide the kind of challenge that was posed by any of those four teams, this Wisconsin offensive line is as big and physical as any of those teams listed. For years, Wisconsin has prided itself on a power running game fueled by a rugged running back and a mauling offensive line, and as you'd expect, this season is no different. Ball's statistics are well-documented and astounding (1,759 yards rushing, 32 touchdowns), but it's the Badger offensive line that is responsible for blowing open Ball's running lanes. The average size of Wisconsin's starting offensive linemen surpasses that of the Green Bay Packers starting offensive line, meaning the Ducks will need to use speed and technique to their advantage to stall what is the proverbial engine for Wisconsin offensively. Players such as Taylor Hart, Isaac Remington, Wade Keliikipi and Ricky Heimuli will need to be at their best in order for Oregon to win the battle in the trenches.

Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney

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