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Friday, December 14, 2012
Pac-12 bowl primer: Rose Bowl

By Kevin Gemmell

This week we'll be taking a snapshot look at all of the bowl games including Pac-12 teams.

ROSE BOWL GAME PRESENTED BY VIZIO

Wisconsin (8-5, 4-4 Big Ten) vs. No. 6 Stanford (11-2, 8-1)

Where: Pasadena, Calif. The Rose Bowl

When: Tue. Jan. 1, 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT

TV: ESPN

About Stanford: The Pac-12 champs are riding a seven-game winning streak. It's been a whacky year, for sure, on The Farm (and on the road for that matter, see: Dame, Notre). The Cardinal scored marquee wins over No. 2 USC, No. 11 Oregon State and No. 16 (and 17) UCLA in consecutive weeks. But the crown jewel came when they went to Eugene and knocked off the No. 2 Ducks. The defense has been outstanding against the run and the secondary has done a solid job of avoiding big plays and creating turnovers. Stepfan Taylor is one of the most complete running backs in the country and a late-season swaparoo to Kevin Hogan at quarterback has helped stabilize the offense.

About Wisconsin: Don't let the five losses fool you -- the Badgers were competitive in all five defeats. Four of the five came by a field goal (two of them in overtime) and a third overtime game was lost by a touchdown to Ohio State. So while the Cardinal have been very good this year at winning the close ones, the Badgers haven't been as fortunate. However, pasting No. 12 Nebraska 70-31 in the conference championship and advancing to a third straight Rose Bowl makes up for a lot of close losses.

Key players, Stanford: It starts with Taylor, Stanford's all-time leading rusher, but it doesn't end with him. As Hogan matures into the role of starter, his understanding of the offense has expanded. And he has a great mismatch target in All-American tight end Zach Ertz. Defensively, the sum of Stanford's front seven is as good as there is in the nation. But first-team,  all-conference safety Ed Reynolds has really been a difference-maker this season with six interceptions -- half of which have been returned for touchdowns.

Key players, Wisconsin: Like Stanford, it starts with the run for Wisconsin. And the Badgers also have one of the best backs in the country in Montee Ball -- this year's Doak Walker Award winner. He's one of just three running backs in the country to rush for at least 1,700 yards and he's reached the end zone 21 times on the ground. The linebacking duo of Mike Taylor and Chris Borland have combined for more than 200 tackles, 25 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks.

Did you know: Wisconsin is making its fifth Rose Bowl appearance in the BCS era, matching USC for most appearances since 1998 ... Coach-turned-athletic director-turned-coach Barry Alvarez has an 8-3 record in bowl games ... Alvarez is just the second person to ever coach in the Rose Bowl after being inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame (Rick Neuheisel is the other) ... This is the first time in Stanford history the program is going to four straight bowl games ... Wisconsin, Stanford and Oregon are the only teams in the country that have gone to BCS bowls the past three seasons ... Stanford is 5-6-1 all time in Rose Bowls, including a 17-9 loss to Wisconsin in its previous appearance.