The late Keith Jackson originally coined it “The Granddaddy of Them All.”
Oregon, ranked No. 6, an Wisconsin, the No. 8 team in the country, like the sound of it as they will square off in the 106th Rose Bowl Game on New Year’s Day. Oregon won its 12th Pac-12 Championship with a win against Utah, 37-15, and finished the season 11-2 overall and 8-1 in conference. Wisconsin wound up the season 10-3 with a 7-2 mark to win the Big Ten West.
“The Tournament of Roses is ecstatic to have a top-10 matchup in this year’s Rose Bowl Game,” said Pasadena Tournament of Roses President and South Pasadena resident Laura Farber. “Oregon and Wisconsin have been among the best teams in the country all season and we look forward to hosting them in Pasadena.”
It will mark the Badgers 10th appearance in the game while the Ducks aren’t far behind, as this will be Oregon’s eighth time playing in the contest. Only six colleges–USC, Michigan, Ohio State, Stanford, Washington and UCLA– have played in more Rose Bowls.
It will be a rematch of sorts as the teams met in 2012, with Oregon coming out on top in that one, 45-38, in a thriller.
Wisconsin looked unstoppable through the first six games of the season, jumping out to a 6-0 start before falling to Illinois 24-23 on a last second field goal. The next week, the struggling Badgers were routed by Ohio State, 38-7, in a lackluster performance.
They then rebounded, recording four straight victories to claim the Big Ten West, earning a rematch with Ohio State, but dropped a 34-21 contest to the Buckeyes. Wisconsin jumped out to a 21-7 halftime lead, but couldn’t put the game away. Yet the effort was strong enough to catch the eye of Rose Bowl Game officials, who extended an invitation to the Badgers to come out west ahead of Penn State.
Wisconsin now sets its sights on beating Oregon in the Rose Bowl, something it hasn’t done in awhile. After winning in 1999, the Badgers have suffered three straight losses in the game.
While Wisconsin is trying to come to grips with its loss to Illinois, Oregon faced a similar situation when it dropped a 31-28 decision to Arizona late in the Pac-12 season. The Ducks had visions of possibly playing top-ranked LSU in the Peach Bowl had the wheels not come off against the Sun Devils.
Oregon, no stranger to the Rose Bowl in recent years, beat Florida State in the first College Football Playoff game played in 2015.
Oregon opened the 2019 season with a disappointing loss to Auburn before destroying nearly every team in its path, including a victory over Oregon State in their regular season finale. The Ducks then had little trouble getting past Utah in the Pac-12 Championship.
Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, a projected first round NFL draft pick, will be firing on all cylinders in his final college game. On defense, Oregon gave up only 15.7 points per game, ranking the Ducks eighth nationally.
Wisconsin, playing at a really high level late in the season, dominated Minnesota and nearly upset Ohio State, and will come at the Ducks with prolific running game Badgers’ running back Jonathan Taylor, who has averaged 157.7 yards, 6.76 yards per carry and 1.9 touchdowns in the Badgers’10 wins. In Wisconsin’s three losses, Taylor averaged 110.7 yards, 4.88 yards per carry and 0.67 touchdowns per game.
“It’s been a fun year, and you don’t know how each season is going to turn out,” said Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst at Rose Bowl media day. “But I’ve appreciated my time with this group of players and what coaches have done. And the journey of every season is kind of the fun part. And for them to do all they’ve done and earn to play here, this group means a lot to me.”
Oregon Coach Mario Mario Cristobal likes the idea his club Rose Bowl Game experience behind it.
“We’ve been here, at the end of this thing, by the time we play the game, we’ll be here an entire week,” he said in front of the assembled media. “We approach it like a game week back home while at the same time recognizing and understanding the privilege, the magnitude of being invited and earning the opportunity for an event in a game like this for our players an incredible experience, and it’s starting to set in that we’re playing in the Rose Bowl. While at the same time not taking our focus off the task at hand which is focusing on our opponent and ourselves to be at the best we can be.”
Remembering Keith Jackson
And for the guy who coined the phase “The Granddaddy of Them All,” The Tournament of Roses has created a new and unique scholarship award – The Rose Bowl Game Keith Jackson Postgraduate Scholarship. It will recognize one senior student from the Big Ten Conference and one senior student from the Pac-12 Conference for exceptional achievement in academics and civic service.
Each student will receive a $10,000 scholarship, to be paid to their postgraduate institution of choice, to further their academic study in an area of their choosing. The scholarship is now open for applications and will be awarded for the first time in the spring of 2019.
In addition, as part of the Keith Jackson Postgraduate Scholarship, each recipient will be given the opportunity to receive a “Rose Bowl Game Experience,” consisting of a four-night trip to Pasadena, Calif., to shadow staff during the build-up to “The Granddaddy of Them All,” culminating with the opportunity to work the Rose Bowl Game on New Year’s Day.