EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 26: Defensive end Dion Jordan #96 and defensive tackle Taylor Hart #66 of the Oregon Ducks celebrate a defensive stop in the fourth quarter of the game aginst the Oregon State Beavers at Autzen Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Eugene, Oregon. Oregon won the game 49-21 to clinch the Pac-12 North. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Use this medication only as needed. When you begin to feel panic, an increased heart rate, non-stop sweating, or an inability to fall asleep on January 1st, you may want to read this post. THESE ARE NOT BONRPLLZ AND SHOULD NOT BE USED AS SUCH. The medication consists of Wisconsin's defense relative to teams that have caused Oregon problems and the Badger's own bowl deficiencies.
I'm slightly confused as to why people are just assuming that Wisconsin is going to score over 30 points. I would say it's probable, but I would also say that Oregon could most likely hold them to fewer points than that. I'm not discrediting the Badger offense at all, but I think that saying Wisconsin is going to score 35+ because they're really really good is inaccurate. Example, people thought Auburn would score a ton and they didn't last year in the bowl game.
The advantage our offense has over their defense is miles better than the advantage their offense has over our defense. The Badger defense is not fast at all, especially on the edges, which is why whenever Wisconsin stacks the box their defensive backs have to give 10-12 yards cushion on the receivers. There is a huge speed difference and that kind of defensive fault creates deaths of a thousand wounds. Any team Oregon has played in the past that is slow can't keep up with Oregon for more than a quarter. To further illustrate this point, Wisconsin is 43rd in the nation, according to FEI in allowing 1st downs, and rank 49 in allowing explosive drives. They are also 64th in allowing methodical drives (drives that go 10 plays or more). Lastly, the odds of another defense being above average in the schedule Wisconsin has played to date is .273, or 93rd (meaning it's very likely a team could be above average on that schedule), while the schedule Wisconsin has yet to play (Oregon) ranks 12th in terms of an elite defense being above average in defensive efficiency.
Oregon ranks in the 20's or teens in the stats just mentioned, but rank second in an elite defense playing above average against their remaining schedule. This is not to say that Oregon and Wisconsin are close in how challenged they will be in facing their opponent, but that Oregon is much better suited to stop the Wisconsin offense than Wisconsin is to stop Oregon's offense.
Now in an isolated game there is a lot of variability, but when one looks at the teams Oregon got beat by in their losses where Oregon was "shut down" they were all elite and fast. Boise State in 2009 was an elite defense who Football Outsiders ranked as the 10th best in terms of defensive F/+. Ohio State had the fifth best F/+ defense and they had tons of speed. In 2010 Auburn had the 23rd ranked defense but also had Nick Fairley who went beast mode and was a part of a dominant offensive line. Against LSU, who most teams can't even run plays against, Oregon scored 27 points, out gained the Tigers on offense, and have the best defense in the country this year that includes a dominant line. Wisconsin has the 32nd defense but lacks a line with speed and doesn't get a big push at the line (a percentage of 3.7% compared to LSU's 19.6. LSU is miles better).
Oregon has been held to below average output in their last two bowl games against elite, fast defenses, but Wisconsin has also struggled to score points in bowl games. Last year in their Rose Bowl loss against TCU, Wisconsin was held to 19 points. The year before they beat 6-6 Miami but only scored 20 points. In 2008 Wisconsin lost to Florida State 42-13. All of those point totals were multiple scores below their season average.
Oregon has faced a power rushing attack twice this year and done well. The first was against LSU, and the Ducks were doing a great job of pursuing the football and holding LSU to only 2-4 yard gains. Oregon made a fair amount of stops, benefited from turnovers, and gave up only 10 offensive points to the Tigers in the first half. Once LSU benefited from consecutive turnovers and ran continually at an Oregon defense getting no rest then holes began to form (Wisconsin largely operates the same way. That's how they pulled away from Nebraska). The second team Oregon played that featured power running was Stanford, and they had an even better quarterback. The difference in speed on offense and defense was clear with Oregon having the advantage on both sides of the ball (like against Wisconsin). Oregon held Stanford to 129 yards rushing and only 3.7 yards per carry, way below the season average, and the defense made just enough stops and turnovers to blow the game open.
What I've illustrated is that bowl struggles are not unique to just Oregon but are also present in Wisconsin's bowl appearances. The defenses that have stopped Oregon are elite and Wisconsin is not. The defenses that beat Oregon are fast, and Wisconsin is definitely not. Oregon has stopped power attacks (although maybe not as great as Wisconsin's). Ultimately, Oregon's offense has a bigger advantage over the Badger defense than the Badger offense has over the Oregon defense.