Rose Bowl: Three keys for Oregon

Let's look at three keys for Oregon in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin on Monday.

1. Win the battle of styles: At first, this was going to be: "Run and stop the run." But the key for Oregon might be flexibility. What the Ducks want is to get their fast players -- LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas and Josh Huff -- into space and put pressure on Wisconsin to make one-on-one tackles. The Badgers' defense is sound and physical, but it's not terribly fast. Think Stanford. It doesn't matter how the Ducks get their speed guys into space, either through passes or runs; it just matters to get them there and let them do their thing. On the other side of the ball, Oregon's defense must find a way to create negative plays that take Wisconsin out of its comfort zone. The Badgers might gain 6 yards on five consecutive runs, but if they 2 lose two on first down, the Ducks' defense has a much better chance to get a stop. Second- and third-and-long turns the advantage from Wisconsin's size to the Ducks' speed.

2. Be special: Based on the regular season, Oregon is better on special teams. Punt and kick returns are where speedy players can make slower teams look bad. Wisconsin is 81st in the nation defending kickoff returns, and Thomas has gone yard twice this season. A special-teams touchdown could be a game-changer. Also, in terms of field position, Oregon is No. 1 in the nation in net punting while Wisconsin is 71st. In a tight game, special teams often make a difference in spectacular and subtle ways. This is an area where the Ducks would seem to have an advantage.

3. Clean sheet: While the national story from Oregon's opening loss to LSU was all that SEC size and speed overwhelming the Ducks, the secondary story was turnovers and penalties. The Ducks lost the turnover battle 4-1 -- LSU returned one fumble for a touchdown -- and had 12 penalties for 95 yards, including a pair of phantom "leg whip" penalties that if anybody saw those called in any other game this year, please email me. LSU was the better team -- after watching the Tigers this season, it's impossible to say otherwise -- but the Ducks made things easy for them. Wisconsin isn't LSU, but it will win this game easily if the Ducks lose the turnover battle 4-1 and get 95 yards in penalties. You can be almost certain that the Badgers aren't going to be sloppy; their eight turnovers are fewest in the nation. So the Ducks also need a clean afternoon. If the turnover tally is 0-0 or 1-1, Oregon should be in good shape.