With the spotlight on Pasadena on Monday afternoon for the 2012 Rose Bowl, most of the spotlight will be on the offenses of the respective teams, and rightfully so. The Oregon Ducks and Wisconsin Badgers have combined for over 90 points and 982 yards of offense per game, on average, this season. But the keys to the game might just lie in other areas.
Wisconsin's special teams have had a trying year. Hillary Lee of the Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire wrote a preview of Wisconsin for the Oregon blog Addicted to Quack, and noted the Badgers' special teams woes. "Drops, kicks returned for seriously long yardage, poor kick coverage. Really, you name it, the Badgers have done it," Lee wrote. "It's been covered up during the year largely thanks to the dominant nature of Wisconsin's offense, but in close games (see: Michigan State during the regular season) it has made all the difference. If Oregon can own special teams, Wisconsin might be in trouble."
As for Oregon, their weakness might lie in the secondary. Adam Hoge at the Wisconsin blog Bucky's Fifth Quarter broke down the various defensive schemes and techniques the Ducks use to confuse their opponents, but also saw an opportunity for the Badgers to exploit:
Oregon's cornerbacks aren't great and they are battling injuries so if the Badgers can figure out the coverages,and could have a big day. That's a big "if" though, as I think UW's pass protection has been overrated this year. It's important for to play and the offensive line to perform well. Of course, Wisconsin's stellar running game should help keep the Badgers out of 3rd-and-long situations in which these defensive packages can be so dangerous.
The Rose Bowl will provide many opportunities for these weaknesses to be exploited, which should make for an exciting game.
The 2012 Rose Bowl Game will be played on Monday, January 2, 2012 in Pasadena. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. PST. The game will be televised by ESPN, with Brent Musberger, Kirk Herbstreit, and Erin Andrews on the call.