Wisconsin Emphatically Claims Big Ten Title, Rose Bowl Berth

Wisconsin, the biggest beneficiary of Ohio State and Penn State’s ineligibility in 2012, has come all the way back from an uneasy start to its season and will represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl after defeating Nebraska, 70-31, in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday.

The Badgers will be the first five-loss team to take part in a BCS bowl, eclipsing four-loss 2010 UConn and 2002 Florida State’s previous record for most losses by a BCS-bound team, but Wisconsin is on its way to a third straight Rose Bowl.

Wisconsin (8-5, 4-4) finished the Big Ten’s regular season in third place in the conference’s Leaders division, but with the first-place Buckeyes (12-0, 8-0) and second-place Nittany Lions (8-4, 6-2) ineligible for postseason play because of NCAA sanctions, it was up to the Badgers to take on Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Wisconsin will appear in its fifth Rose Bowl during the BCS era, having lost the previous two after winning the 1999 and 2000 editions of the historic bowl.

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2012 BCS AQ Conference Profile: Big Ten

BCS Know How is taking you through the six automatic-qualifying BCS conferences in preparation for the 2012 season. Our easy-to-digest previews continue with the B1G Ten. Scroll down to see our profiles of the other conferences.

Conference: Big Ten Conference (Big Ten, B1G)

Active Since: 1896

Current Member Schools:

Leaders Division: Nebraska Cornhuskers, Michigan Wolverines, Iowa Hawkeyes, Northwestern Wildcats, Michigan State Spartans, Minnesota Golden Gophers
Legends Division: Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions, Purdue Boilermakers, Wisconsin Badgers (12)

Bowl Affiliations: Rose Bowl (BCS), Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, TicketCity Bowl, Outback Bowl, Capital One Bowl, Gator Bowl (8)

2011 Results:
Conference Champion — Wisconsin Badgers
Conference Runner-up — Michigan State Spartans
BCS Bowl Results: 2012 Rose Bowl — Oregon 45 vs. Wisconsin 38; 2012 Sugar Bowl — Michigan 23 vs. Virginia Tech 20
Overall Bowl Record: 4-6
Heisman Vote Recipients: Wisconsin RB Montee Ball (Fourth Overall); Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson (Ninth Overall)

2012 Outlook: Variations in power within college football conferences are more than ordinary, they’re expected. It’s just the nature of the game these days. But with two league titles and Rose Bowl bids to match in the last two years, Wisconsin is on the verge of creating a more permanent shift. But Badgers beware, the 2012 Big Ten season is sure to put Wisconsin to the test.

After a victory in the conference’s inaugural conference title game, the Badgers were on their way to the BCS again, this time joined in the by Michigan, a surprising 10-2 squad with power to spare. Michigan State similarly provided fireworks at the end of the season, reaching the conference title game and a New Year’s Day bowl. Both look to build upon successful 2011 campaigns in 2012.

Expect traditional powers Nebraska and Ohio State to again rise to the challenge of this changing landscape. Nebraska will look to put its own fingerprints and smudges on the conference championship trophy. And don’t be too surprised if the bowl-ineligible Buckeyes are still able to make some noise under Urban Meyer.

With skill position players such as Denard Robinson, Montee Ball and Taylor Martinez highlighting the conference, this season might be everything the Big Ten could hope for.

Heisman Hopefuls: Michigan QB Denard Robinson, Wisconsin RB Monte Ball, Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez, Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead, Michigan State RB Le’Veon Bell, Ohio State QB Braxton Miller

BCS Know How’s 2012 Predictions:
Conference Champion — Wisconsin Badgers
Conference Runner-up — Michigan Wolverines
BCS bids: Wisconsin — Rose Bowl; Michigan — Fiesta Bowl
Heisman Finalists — Michigan QB Denard Robinson, Wisconsin RB Monte Ball

Oregon Tops Wisconsin in A Rose Bowl Battle of Offenses, 45-38

Defense was optional in Pasadena on Monday as Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas and a combination of running backs LaMichael James and De’Anthony Thomas led the Ducks over Wisconsin in the 2012 Rose Bowl, 45-38.

The game got out to a fast start as both offense clicked early, setting Rose Bowl records in the first half for scoring and single play from scrimmage (DeAnthony Thomas’s 91-yard first-quarter touchdown scamper). Wisconsin hung in with every Oregon score, as senior quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Montee Ball had performances reflective of their impressive 2011 campaigns. The Badgers’ first three touchdowns were the result of a beautiful Wilson play-action pass, a Wilson run and a Ball 3-yard score.

Through the first half, the Badgers had far outpaced the Ducks in terms of time of possession, but James — who finished with 161 rushing yards — and Oregon were quick to score, including James’s first-ever touchdown rush in a BCS bowl game.

The second half was not quite as offense heavy as the first, as the defenses began to adjust. A key fumble by Wisconsin reciever Jared Abbrederis — who earlier scored the game’s first touchdown — with Wisconsin driving for the potential game-tying touchdown gave Oregon the chance to put the game away.

For Wisconsin, the result was all too familiar, as the Badgers have now lost two straight Rose Bowls, after falling to TCU in last year’s granddaddy of them all.

For Oregon, the victory snapped a three-game losing streak in the Rose Bowl that spanned more than 90 years, with the Ducks’ last victory in the game coming in 1917 Rose Bowl, when they topped the Pennsylvania 14-0.

The 83 total points scored by the Ducks and Badgers also set an all-time Rose Bowl record.

Wisconsin Rose Bowl Bound After Big Ten Title Game Victory

Everything is came up roses for Wisconsin, as the Badgers’ 42-39 victory over Michigan State will send quarterback Russell Wilson and the Badgers to Pasadena to take on Oregon in the Jan. 2 edition of the “granddady of them all.”

Wisconsin was victorious in the first-even Big Ten Conference Championship Game late Saturday night, going blow for blow with Michigan State before getting out ahead of the Spartans in the second half and never looking back.

Wilson and running back Monte Ball are two of the most explosive offensive weapons in the FBS, and will be matched score for score, undoubtedly, by Oregon in Pasadena.

Wisconsin was in the midst of the national title conversation until two straight losses dropped the Badgers out of the title chase. A resurgent team, however, kept at it, and made the most of the games it had remaining to get to the conference title game and now to the Rose Bowl.

2011 BCS AQ Conference Profiles: Big Ten

Welcome to the 2011 college football season! BCS Know How will be taking you through the six automatic-qualifying BCS conferences and five non-AQ conferences with profiles of each conference. We continue with the Big Ten. Scroll down to see our profiles of the other 10 conferences.

Conference: Big Ten Conference (Big Ten)

Active Since: 1896

Current Member Schools:

Leaders Division: Nebraska Cornhuskers, Michigan Wolverines, Iowa Hawkeyes, Northwestern Wildcats, Michigan State Spartans, Minnesota Golden Gophers
Legends Division: Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions, Purdue Boilermakers, Wisconsin Badgers.

Bowl Affiliations: Rose Bowl (BCS), Little Caesars Bowl, Insight Bowl, Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl, TicketCity Bowl, Outback Bowl, Capital One Bowl, Gator Bowl. (8)

2010 Results:
Conference Champion – Wisconsin
Conference Runner-up – Ohio State/Michigan State
BCS Bowl Results: 2011 Rose Bowl – TCU 21 vs. Wisconsin 19; 2011 Sugar Bowl – Ohio State 31 vs. Arkansas 26 (Vacated)
Overall Bowl Record: 3-5 (Ohio State’s victory was later vacated)
Heisman Vote Recipients: Michigan QB Denard Robinson (Sixth Overall)

2011 Outlook: If you were to ask a college football pundit to describe the Big Ten’s offseason in a single word, some variation of the word “tumultuous” would likely come up.

That’s what conference realignment, NCAA violations and coaching changes will bring you.

But with a newly redesigned conference (and logo) the 12-team Big Ten seems ready to move on, and move on with what they know how to do best — play some hard-nosed football.

Wisconsin, who surprised some with their Rose Bowl run last season, returns with an opportunity to stake their claim as a true power in the new conference, while teams like Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Penn State look to return to BCS glory of the past.

Ohio State will look to move past the off-season turmoil, and work toward the new Big Ten Conference Championship Game — possible because of the conference’s expansion to 12 teams.

The conference’s new power, Nebraska, will look to make a big statement in its first year in the conference while trying to fight off the best the “Leaders” and “Legends” have to offer to the Huskers.

2011 Heisman Hopefuls: Michigan QB Denard Robinson, Wisconsin RB James White, Wisconsin RB Monte Ball, Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins

BCS Know How’s 2011 Predictions:
Conference Champion – Wisconsin Badgers
Conference Runner-up – Michigan State Spartans
BCS bids – One: Wisconsin – Rose Bowl
Heisman Finalists – None

Big Ten and Mountain West Powers Clash as Wisconsin and TCU Square Off in the Rose Bowl

TCU Horned Frogs (12-0)

How They Got Here: As the highest ranking champion of a non-automatically qualifying conference — No. 3 in the final BCS standings and champions of the Mountain West Conference — the TCU Hored Frogs were awarded an automatic at-large bid to a BCS Bowl.

Because of a new clause in the selection process for the five BCS bowls, TCU was awarded a bid in the Rose Bowl after the “Granddaddy of them All” lost its traditional Pac-10 conference champion, Oregon, to the BCS National Championship Game.

TCU’s 2010 Season: The Horned Frogs started the 2010 season playing second fiddle to Boise State as the non-BCS conference darling of the year. But after starting the season with victories over Oregon State and Baylor, the Horned Frogs cruised through most of their 2010 schedule and after Boise State faltered late against Nevada, TCU was left atop the ranks of the non-BCS conference schools.

Led by quarterback Andy Dalton, the Frogs spent most of their 2010 season looking forward to a meeting with an undefeated Utah Utes squad in Salt Lake City, but that meeting turned into a blowout victory for the Frogs, all but assuring them of an MWC crown.

TCU’s truest test actually came the very next week, as the Frogs struggled to stay ahead of San Diego State, finally prevailing 40-35 before finishing the season against New Mexico with an easy 66-17 victory.

Wisconsin Badgers (11-1)

How They Got Here: Wisconsin finished in a three-way tie for the Big Ten conference title, and won the conference on the strength of their finish in the BCS standings. Wisconsin’s No. 5 finish in the BCS was higher than that of Ohio State’s (No. 6) and Michigan State’s (No. 9) and gave the Badgers the automatic bid to the Rose Bowl despite the fact that all three teams finished 11-1 and 7-1 in conference.

Wisconsin’s 2010 Season: After stating the season with victories against out-of-conference opponents from around the country, Wisconsin dropped its first Big Ten conference game against Michigan State in East Lansing.

But from that point on, the Badgers could be considered one of the nation’s hottest teams, running off seven straight victories including an upset victory over Ohio State when the Buckeyes were ranked No. 1 in the country.

The Badgers ended the season with huge offensive output against its final three opponents — scoring a total of 201 points in their final three games against Indiana, Michigan and Northwestern.

Matchup to Watch: Both teams have 520 points on the season, but TCU’s defense is among the most vaunted in the country.

How will Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien and his stable of running backs — James White (1,029 yards rushing), John Clay (938) and Montee Ball (864) respond to the threat of a strong TCU defense?

And will Dalton and a tremendous core of receivers be able to take control of the game against the Badger defense?

BCS Know How Prediction: Wisconsin’s 201 points in its last few games were an incredible feat, but also sent some negative media coverage the way of Madison. Will the nearly five-week break have a restorative effect on two rough and tough teams or will either be rusty?

TCU 31 vs. Wisconsin 20

2011 BCS Bowl Matchups

The 2011 BCS bowl matchups have been announced, with the long-awaited Auburn-Oregon BCS National Championship Game highlighting a slate of five marquee BCS bowl games.

The BCS will begin as it usually does, with the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, followed by the Fiesta Bowl that night.

The Fiesta Bowl and Sugar Bowl will played on January 3 and January 4 respectively, with the title game not coming our way until January 10th.

Represented are the champions of all six BCS conferences, the MWC conference, the Pac-10 runner up, the Big Ten runner up and one of two SEC teams to finish 10-2 but miss out on the opportunity to play in the SEC Championship Game.

Here is your official schedule:

Click bowl names for BCS Know How previews!

BCS National Championship Game

Glendale, Arizona. January 10th, 2011

Auburn Tigers

vs.

Oregon Ducks

Comment: There were stumbles and potential pitfalls on the way, but ever since the initial unpredictability of the early part of the 2010 season, the Ducks and Tigers returned a sense of stability to the top of the rankings — and will meet in Glendale as the two best teams in the country.

The champions of the SEC and Pac-10 respectively, Auburn and Oregon have ruled atop the BCS rankings these past few weeks and put exclamations on their fantastic seasons with dominating performances on the final weekend of the year, and set up to potentially give us one of the most exciting BCS National Championship Games in memory.

Rose Bowl

Pasadena, California. January 1st, 2011

Wisconsin Badgers

vs.

TCU Horned Frogs

Comment: Two teams who have a legitimate claim at being the “hottest” team in the country as the season finishes will have to make do with an invitation to the most prestigious bowl on the BCS slate, the Rose Bowl.

Wisconsin gets to play in Pasadena on the strength of a Big Ten tiebreaker and a strong showing throughout the season, while TCU takes advantage of the much-discussed non-AQ clause in its first year and will join the Badgers on New Year’s Day.

Fiesta Bowl

Glendale, Arizona. January 1st, 2011

Oklahoma Sooners

vs.

Connecticut Huskies

Comment: Few if any prognosticators saw Connecticut as a viable threat to make their way to a BCS bowl in the 2010 season, but here the Huskies are — champions of the Big East at 8-4 overall and headed to Glendale for the Fiesta Bowl.

Waiting for the Huskies will be the Oklahoma Sooners, who will fulfill the Big 12’s contract with the Fiesta Bowl as the conference champion. The Sooners will be looking to break a string of poor performances in BCS bowls following successful seasons and the Huskies will be their next opportunity to do so.

Orange Bowl

Miami, Florida. January 3rd, 2011

Virginia Tech Hokies

vs.

Stanford Cardinal

Comment: South Beach, long the home of a January Orange Bowl between two East Coast teams will see a surprise visit from cross-country invaders Stanford, who automatically qualified for one of the four at-large BCS bowl bids on the strength of their No. 4 finish in the final BCS standings.

The Virginia Tech Hokies will be less of a surprise entrant here, playing in their third Orange Bowl in four years as the champion of the ACC and riding an 11-game winning streak into their bowl date with the Cardinal.

Sugar Bowl

New Orleans, Louisiana. January 4th, 2011

Arkansas Razorbacks

vs.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Comment: Two teams looking on the outside of the automatic bowl bid picture had their lots picked up by the Sugar Bowl, as the New Orleans-based bowl selected a replacement SEC team — Arkansas — and a very attractive at-large opponent — Ohio State — to feature in their tradition-filled bowl.

Both teams finished just short of making runs at their respective conference crowns, but were well rewarded with a bid to the Sugar Bowl to play in a marquee Big Ten-SEC matchup.