BBD Editor Mike Watkins
The Rose bowl this year presents an interesting matchup that seems very uneven when looking at it. Stanford proved doubters wrong all year long with a suffocating defense and a ground and pound offense. Wisconsin despite heading to there third straight Rose Bowl had an up and down year. They also have to adjust to their coach, Bret Bielema, leaving to coach Arkansas. They do however get a very much adequate replacement coach in Barry Alvarez who is credited in making the program a premier one in the late 90’s and early 2000.
Both teams are going to be looking to do the same thing on offense. They both want to establish the run, control the clock, and let their respective defenses take them to a win. Wisconsin will ride RB M.Ball who had a bit of a down year this year. Stanford has a bell cow of their own, RB S.Taylor. Both teams run a traditional offense most of the time so expect the scoring to be low and the drives to calculated and long.
This game is going to be decided on the defensive side of the ball. Wisconsin has a pesky defenses that attacks the ball and is led by LB Chris Borland who’s name you will learn really quickly when watching Wisconsin. He and fellow LB Mike Taylor fly to the ball and often chop off runs well short of where they should end. When looking at Stanford’s defense they have one of the best front 7’s in the nation and are a big reason why they are on a 7 game win streak that includes knocking off the number 2 ranked team in the country at the time Oregon. They pride themselves on shutting down the run game and keeping opponents under 100 yards total on the ground. For Bills fans Skov and Thomas are names they should know. In fact this game will present a lot of possible LB options for the Bills in the upcoming draft.
#44 Chris Borland LB 5’11″ 250*
Borland is one of my favorite players to watch. He plays like his hair is on fire. There is rarely an offensive play that goes by without him being involved stopping it one way or another. He doesn’t have all the measurable but he is a football player through and through. He actually reminds me a lot of a young London Fletcher but with a more downhill attacking mentality
#58 Ricky Wagner OT 6’6¼” 317
Wagner is an OT prospect that could end up helping the Bills on the right side or the left side even though Cordy Glenn seems to be a capable LT. However while Pears is solid he is still nothing to write home about and the same could be said about Hairston. Wagner unlike previous Wisconsin OL has more athletic ability and isn’t seen as just a straight road grader. There is a lot of raw ability to work with
#53 Michael Taylor LB 6’1¼” 220
Taylor is going to get knocked left and right for his size all through the draft process. He however plays much bigger than he is listed. He is a downhill LB who is always in attack mode. If the Bills keep a similar style of defense Taylor could make a nice addition
#28 Montee Ball RB 5’11″ 210
#20 James White RB 5’10″ 198*
#4 Jared Abbrederis WR 6’2″ 188*
#48 Jacob Pedersen TE 6’4″ 238*
#72 Travis Frederick OC 6’4″ 338*
#97 Brendan Kelly DE 6’6″ 255
#11 David Gilbert DE 6’4″ 250*
#10 Devin Smith CB 5’10¼” 180
#14 Marcus Cromartie CB 6’0¼” 190
#24 Shelton Johnson S 5’11¾” 195
#12 Dezmen Southward S 6’2″ 214*
#86 Zach Ertz TE 6’6″ 249*
Chandler had a solid year for the Bills and is an above average starter but there is virtually nothing behind him. Ertz has the talent to back Chandler up and likely take his job fairly early, which would only benefit the Bills in the long run. Ertz should be the second TE off the board in the draft.
#44 Chase Thomas LB 6’2 245
Thomas may be Stanford’s best overall player. He can play inside or out but I like him a little better on the outside because of his ability to blitz. He has a very high football IQ and has a real knack for making big plays in big games. Thomas reminds me of a less athletic version of Brian Cushing
#11 Shayne Skov LB 6’1¾” 245
Skov is more of a 3-4 LB than a 4-3 but I still think he can play in either defense because first and foremost he is a football player. He has a nose for the ball and is an excellent blitzer. He leaves a lot to be desired in pass coverage and had an off the field incident with a DUI that may scare a team or two off.
#33 Stepfan Taylor RB 5’8½” 215
#85 FB Ryan Hewitt FB 6’3″ 248*
#4 Drew Terrell WR 5’11″ 182
#11 Levine Toilolo TE 6’8″ 263*
#64 Sam Schwartzstein OC 6’2″ 290
#49 Ben Gardner DE 6’4″ 275*
#93 Trent Murphy OLB 6’5″ 261*
Prediction: 38-17 Stanford, I just think their defense is too much to handle for Wisconsin