Wisconsin Football v. Oregon: 5 Big Questions

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 26: Jack Coan #17 of the Wisconsin Badgers passes in the third quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Wisconsin 38-7. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 26: Jack Coan #17 of the Wisconsin Badgers passes in the third quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Wisconsin 38-7. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

The Wisconsin Football team is nearing their matchup with Oregon in the Rose Bowl, but before it begins, here are five big questions about the upcoming game.

Despite having lost back-to-back games during the middle of the season, the Wisconsin Football team was able to battle back and earned the right to play in ‘The Granddaddy of Them All’ – the Rose Bowl. And their opponent, the Oregon Ducks, are going to present them with a very difficult challenge.

Oregon finished the season 11-2 and winners of the Pac-12. However, had it not been for a surprising loss to Arizona State on the road, there was a very good possibility that the Ducks could have been playing in the College Football Playoff instead. Which shows you the caliber of team that the Badgers will be going up against.

However, before we get to kickoff on New Years Day, I sat down and came up with my five big questions about the upcoming matchup between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Oregon Ducks.

How will Jonathan Taylor fare?

Of course, Jonathan Taylor is the two-time Doak Walker Award winner and two-time first team All-American, so I’m aware that this could be considered an odd question. But with that said, Taylor and the Wisconsin offensive line are going to be tested against this Oregon run defense.

This season, Oregon is allowing 106.8 rushing yards per game, which ranks as the 11th fewest in all of college football and opposing backs are averaging a measly 3.3 yards per carry against them. While it hasn’t happened often, we’ve seen how difficult it can be for the Badger offense to move the ball when Taylor is struggling, so him having success in this game will be key.

Can they slow Kayvon Thibodeaux?

The true freshman defensive end has been a one-man wrecking crew this season who has lived in the opposing team’s backfield. Up to this point he has totaled 34 tackles, in which 14 of them have been for a loss, along with nine sacks and a forced fumble.

The Badgers will likely have to double-team him or at the very least chip him, because it will be crucial that Jack Coan has time in the pocket to throw. Not to mention that they might not want to run Taylor in his direction too often either.

Will they contain Justin Herbert?

While for the Badgers and their fans this is an uncommon opponent, I’m sure most are familiar with Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, who is a top prospect in the upcoming NFL Draft. Although 2018 was a down season by Herbert’s standards, he has bounced-back this year with a completion percentage of nearly 67 percent with 3,333 yards, and 32 touchdowns to only five interceptions.

Herbert has a strong-arm, he can make just about any throw on the field, and he can extend plays with his legs. However, he has also shown that he will make some errant throws as well, especially when he is under duress.

Will the Badgers slow C.J. Verdell?

Although it is Justin Herbert who grabs the headlines on this Oregon team, this is a well-balanced offense that averages 35.9 points per game this season, the 15th most in college football. And one of the big contributors has been running back, C.J. Verdell.

This season Verdell has racked up nearly 1,200 yards on 6.5 yards per carry with eight touchdowns and he is also averaging nearly nine yards per reception. This also includes a 208 yard performance in the Pac-12 Championship game as well. While Herbert certainly garners a lot of attention from opposing defenses, Wisconsin also needs to be concerned about Verdell. But to their credit, the Badgers have one of the stingiest run defenses in the game.

What will we see from Jack Coan?

For the most part, Jack Coan has been very solid this season and has done what’s been asked of him. With Jonathan Taylor to rely on, the Badgers don’t need Coan to carry this team to victory, they just need him to be efficient and not turn the ball over. Which is exactly what he’s done in 2019 by completing over 70 percent of his passes with only four interceptions. And in order for the Badgers to win this game, they’ll need Coan to deliver on those two things.

Next. Jonathan Taylor will be tested by Oregon run defense. dark

I mentioned above how good the Oregon run defense is but overall they’ve been excellent as well, giving up just 15.7 points per game this season, the eight fewest in college football. However, if Coan can be effective, it will help keep the Oregon defense off-balanced and take some of the burden off of Taylor, which in turn, will hopefully free him up a bit. Not to mention that turnovers against a high-caliber team like Oregon can be killers.