Badgers lead Oregon, 17-14, at halftime in Rose Bowl

Rose Bowl stadium

PASADENA, Calif. — The first five minutes of the first quarter belonged to Oregon.

The rest of the first half of the 106th Rose Bowl Game was pretty much Wisconsin’s.

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert led a 70-yard scoring drive, capped by Herbert’s four-yard scoring scramble, to open the game Wednesday afternoon in Pasadena, but the Badgers owned the Ducks after that — immediately.

Badgers sophomore Aron Cruickshank returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards down the sideline for a touchdown to tie the teams’ second Rose Bowl matchup at 7. Badgers linebacker Jack Sanborn intercepted Herbert’s pass on the first play of the Ducks’ next possession, and Wisconsin turned that into points with a field goal off Collin Larsh’s leg.

Wisconsin’s defense stepped up from there, holding Oregon to just one net yard the rest of the quarter and just 45 more for the rest of the half. The defense came to play on third downs — where it held opponents to just a 27% conversion rate during the season — by stopping any more extended drives, including three three-and-outs and a fourth-down stop.

It was good that the defense was doing its job because the Badgers’ offense wasn’t effectively moving the ball against the Ducks. Jonathan Taylor fumbled and Jack Coan threw an interception on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter, setting Oregon up on the Badgers’ side of the field each time. It only turned into seven total points for the Ducks — Herbert’s second touchdown run of the game.

Quarterback Jack Coan hit wideout Quintez Cephus for a touchdown on fourth down just seconds before halftime to give the Badgers the 17-14 lead heading into the locker rooms.


4th-and-Good: Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst was tasked with a challenging choice early in the second quarter after the spot on a Cephus catch was overturned, leaving Wisconsin with a 4th-and-inches at the Ducks’ 30. Chryst called a sneak for Coan, who converted it. Chryst’s aggressive play didn’t pay off when Larsh missed the 44-yard field goal attempt.

Not Very JT: Jonathan Taylor’s first carry of the game moved him past Tony Dorsett for fourth-place on the all-time FBS rushing yards list, but a relatively quiet first half was highlighted by a fumble midway through the second quarter. He finished the half with 11 carries for 52 yards.


Aron Cruickshank got the scoring going early for the Badgers with this big kickoff return — the second-longest in Rose Bowl Game history.

Looks like Athletic Director Barry Alvarez had a good time at the game, too.


A bonus tweet!


Wednesday’s game is the Badgers’ 10th appearance in the Rose Bowl. Entering the matchup, Wisconsin is 3-6 all time, with its most recent losses coming in 2010, ’11 and ’12.


“Enjoy it.” – Paul Chryst on the ESPN broadcast, on what he told his team before the game.