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2012 Rose Bowl: Oregon Ducks Try To Restore Pac-12 Pride

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The Oregon Ducks have to feel they hold a lot of chips on the table. For at least the next few months, they will still be the primary power in the conference. They will be the team that everyone is paying attention to, that everyone is looking up to before Matt Barkley and the USC Trojans try and retake the reins a year from now.

Still, with the Pac-12 on the verge of a pretty tepid bowl showing (1-4 so far), the Ducks can do a good deal for themselves and the conference with a victory. In a battle of defenses, Texas proved they could overpower and knock down Cal in the trenches better. Washington put up eight touchdowns and it wasn't enough against Baylor. Arizona State simply got rode roughshod by a superior Boise squad, and UCLA lost a fight of flailing Magikarps with Illinois. Only Utah has stood up and represented the conference well during bowl season.

So naturally, all that's left are the top dogs in the conference. Oregon and Stanford need to restore honor to the conference ranks if the Pac-12 doesn't want to end their football season with the bitter taste of defeat.

The Wisconsin Badgers provide Oregon with their natural foil. Wisconsin plays their games in a traditional fashion relying on heavy, physical power football, with Russell Wilson making a decent amount of plays with his feet. If Wisconsin plans on winning this football game, they must keep that football away from Oregon if they plan on staying ahead on the offensive side of the ball.

Wisconsin's defense though is slow, and unlikely to keep up with the tough playmakers of the Ducks. Wisconsin's physical line is going to have to prove they can win the line of scrimmage and beat Oregon up top if they plan on keeping Oregon's offense in check. They'll have to keep Oregon off the field and ensure quick drives to give the ball back to the Badgers if they plan on controlling the pace of this game.

Oregon knows that this is their last chance to prove themselves on a national stage unless they return to another BCS contest. They will play no great opponents outside the conference next season, leaving only the USC game as their roadblock to a return to prominence. There's a lot the Ducks have to do to prove that they are ready to take on the challenge of teams equally matched in talent and execution.