The first half of the 2012 Rose Bowl was more like a pinball game than a college football affair, with the No. 6 Oregon Ducks and No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers lighting up the scoreboard in unprecedented fashion. After 30 minutes of play in Pasadena, we are tied at 28-28 in the highest-scoring first half in Rose Bowl history.
The previous record for most points in a first half of a Rose Bowl was in 1999, when Wisconsin led UCLA 24-21 at halftime.
In a game full of offensive highlights, perhaps the two biggest plays of the first half were defensive. With about five minutes remaining until halftime, Wisconsin eschewed the field goal attempt from the Oregon 17-yard line, instead opting to go for it on fourth-and-one. Russell Wilson rolled out to his right but was unable to run for the first down, getting sacked and allowing Oregon to take over on downs.
However, six plays into their drive, the Ducks provided the game's first turnover. Quarterback Darron Thomas was sacked by linebacker extraordinaire Mike Taylor, who forced a fumble that was picked up by defensive lineman Louis Nzegwu and run 33 yards into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown:
The first half numbers were staggering. In addition to the 28 points apiece, Oregon and Wisconsin combined for more than 600 yards of offense in the first half. The Ducks amassed 341 yards and 13 first downs, while Wisconsin was no slouch with 296 yards and 16 first downs.
De'Anthony Thomas had the longest run from scrimmage in Rose Bowl history with 91 yards for Oregon, and his teammate LaMichael James has 77 yards on eight carries. Montee Ball ran for 123 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown, passing Ron Dayne and catching Barry Sanders in the process.
Russell Wilson completed 10 of 13 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown for Wisconsin, while Darron Thomas completed nine of 12 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Take the next 20 minutes or so to catch your breath during halftime. Oregon gets the ball first to start the third quarter.