Mistakes loom large in Wisconsin’s Rose Bowl defeat
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Paul Chryst succinctly summed up why his Wisconsin squad lost Wednesday’s 106th Rose Bowl to Oregon despite running 22 more plays and dominating time of possession.
“We didn’t overcome ourselves,” the Badgers coach said after four turnovers and untimely penalties contributed to a 28-27 defeat.
Three fumbles and an interception resulted in 21 Oregon points, while nine penalties stalled a couple drives.
“We’re always confident we can move the ball. We let this get away from us,” said quarterback Jack Coan, who was 23 of 35 for 186 yards with a touchdown and interception. “We made a bunch of mistakes and didn’t play our best.”
It is the second time No. 11 Wisconsin (10-4) has committed four turnovers. It was able to overcome mistakes in a 45-24 win over Purdue in November, but not on New Year’s Day against the nation’s seventh-ranked team.
“You can’t expect a win against a burst team like Oregon, with turnovers, penalties, special teams issues. I think that played a factor with everything, not playing clean Wisconsin football,” said running back Jonathan Taylor, who had a fumble in the second quarter.
The Badgers did a good job for three quarters of seizing momentum after the Ducks (12-2) scored. Austin Cruickshank had the third kick return touchdown in Rose Bowl history to even it at 7 after Oregon took the opening kickoff and scored on Justin Herbert’s 4-yard bootleg.
Wisconsin’s other two touchdowns also came following mistakes that resulted in Oregon scores. But the Badgers were unable to respond on their final two possessions after Danny Davis’ fumble was converted into Herbert’s third touchdown, giving the Ducks a one-point lead.
“Throughout the season we have done a good job of not hurting ourselves. Their defense was one of the tops in the country and they made those plays. We knew we had to protect the ball more,” said Quintez Cephus, whose 11-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter gave the Badgers a 17-14 halftime lead.
The Badgers went three-and-out on only two of their 13 drives and had the ball for 38:03. The defense held Oregon to 204 yards, which is third-fewest yards a team has had in the Rose Bowl since 1964. However, the Badgers are the fifth team since 1950 to allow an opponent under 250 yards and lose the Rose Bowl.
Besides turnovers, Wisconsin committed nine penalties for 79 yards. An offensive pass interference call against Davis on third down on the Badgers’ final drive nullified a 9-yard completion to Jake Ferguson that would have resulted in a first down. The drive stalled after that and Oregon ran out the clock.
“They were doing some fake claps and things like that to draw us offside. We shot ourselves in the foot like that,” linebacker Jack Sanborn said.
Taylor went over 2,000 rushing yards for the second straight season. He had 94 yards on 21 carries and finished with 2,003, which ties him for third nationally. Taylor did not say though whether he will forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
Chryst gave Taylor a nice sendoff if this did prove to be his final game.
“I’ve loved seeing his progression as a leader on this team, and unbelievable care for his teammates,” he said. “It’s impressive what he’s done on the field, and it’s incredibly impressive who he is and how he’s done it, is more impressive to me.”