- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Granddaddy is almost here. Wisconsin aims for its fourth consecutive Rose Bowl championship against a TCU team striving for a perfect season.
Let's examine the Badgers-Horned Frogs matchup in the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO.
WHO TO WATCH: Wisconsin running back John Clay. The beefy junior says he's 100 percent recovered from knee problems that cropped up toward the end of the regular season. If Clay returns at top form and can wear down TCU's defense with his size and between-the-tackles running, it could open things up for fellow backs James White and Montee Ball. Clay, the 2009 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, had a decent season but looks for a signature performance in what could be his final game in college. Clay needs 64 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the season.
WHAT TO WATCH: Outstanding individual matchups throughout the field. Let's start off at the line of scrimmage, as standout defensive ends J.J. Watt (Wisconsin) and Wayne Daniels (TCU) go up against stout offensive tackles Marcus Cannon (TCU) and Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin). The Badgers send All-Big Ten cornerback Antonio Fenelus to stop TCU speedy receiver Jeremy Kerley. And while quarterbacks Scott Tolzien (Wisconsin) and Andy Dalton (TCU) don't directly face one another, they boast similar styles and strong track records, so comparisons will be made in the game.
WHY TO WATCH: Colleague Brian Bennett and I have given you about 1,000 reasons this week, but this is a can't-miss game. These are two really good teams with outstanding individual players, and both squads are looking to prove something in the Rose Bowl. TCU wants to show it belongs in the national championship discussion with Boise State as a truly elite program from a non-AQ league. Wisconsin is carrying the banner for the Big Ten Conference, which needs a second consecutive strong bowl showing to bolster its national reputation.
PREDICTION: Wisconsin 30, TCU 27. Another tough one to call, and I originally had the Horned Frogs winning when the pairing first came out. But Wisconsin provides a look that TCU simply can't simulate playing in the Mountain West, and while the Frogs boast so many dynamic defenders, they'll wear down in the second half against the Badgers' power backs. Dalton will have TCU right there at the end, but Wisconsin uses a strong fourth quarter to secure the victory.