Badgers fall to Oregon in 106th Rose Bowl Game

PASADENA, Cal. — Wisconsin learned why Justin Herbert is one of the top 2020 quarterback prospects in the NFL Draft on Wednesday in Pasadena.

Oregon’s QB ran for three touchdowns, enough to deny the Badgers a chance to snap a three-game losing streak in the Rose Bowl with a 28-27 loss to the Ducks. Wisconsin (10-4) hasn’t won the Granddaddy of Them All since Jan. 1, 2000.

Herbert led a 70-yard scoring drive (capped with a four-yard scramble) to open the contest, but the Badgers stayed in control for a majority of the game immediately after that.

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 the first of Collin Larsh’s two field goals.

But the Badgers offense struggled to move the ball until nearly halftime, when quarterback Jack Coan led an eight-play, 53-yard drive that ended with a fourth-down throw to Quintez Cephus (seven catches, 59 yards). Wisconsin added a seven-minute scoring drive in the third quarter, finished with another fourth-down score, courtesy of fullback Mason Stokke’s two-yard run.

Wisconsin’s defense stepped up from there, holding Oregon (12-2) to just 45 yards in the first half after the Ducks’ first possession. And Oregon’s first drive of the second half — which came over 10 minutes into the third quarter — ended on a three-and-out, of which the Ducks had five (including a four-and-out) on the day.

With a chance to put the game away with under 10 minutes to go, the Badgers turned to All-American halfback Jonathan Taylor, who started a drive that started on Wisconsin’s own four with two carries for 22 yards. Wide receiver Danny Davis took the next handoff and fumbled it, setting Oregon up for Herbert’s third rushing touchdown of the day and the 28-27 lead.

Down to their last stand, Wisconsin’s defense was able to do just enough to get another third-down stop — Oregon was 3-for-10 on the day on third down — and give its offense one more shot with the ball with four minutes left. A third-down conversion on offense was nullified by Davis’ offensive pass interference, forcing the Badgers to punt, where Oregon was able to run out most of the final two minutes.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Not Very JT: The Badgers were able to find a way Wednesday, despite arguably its best player — and Heisman candidate — Jonathan Taylor not playing like the 2,000-yard rusher he is. 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 game was highlighted by a fumble midway through the second quarter. He finished the game with 21 carries for 94 yards, but a few longer runs were called back throughout the afternoon due to penalties.

D Steps Up: Taylor fumbled and 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. The defense was able to hold the Ducks to only seven points on those two drives — Herbert’s second touchdown run of the game.

Another Special Teams TD: This special teams score wasn’t courtesy of the Badgers. Punter Anthony Lotti couldn’t get the ball in the air on a punt early in the third quarter. Oregon safety Brady Breeze picked up the ball and ran it into the endzone for his third score of the year, which gave the Ducks a momentarily 21-17 lead.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

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.

TWEET OF THE GAME

A bonus tweet!

SOUND SMART

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

HE SAID IT

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

UP NEXT

The Badgers open the 2020 season against Big Ten foe Indiana on Saturday, Sept. 5, at Camp Randall.