Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 22, 2011
As the Ducks approach the 2012 Rose Bowl, to be played Monday, January 2, 2012, Ducks Sports Authority will take you deeper into the match-ups between the Big 10 Champion Wisconsin Badgers (11-2) and the Pac-12 champion Oregon Ducks (11-2) position by position.

Wisconsin earned the right to play in the Rose Bowl with a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Michigan State Spartans in a "grudge re-match" from earlier in the season. Oregon won the Pac-12 conference for the third consecutive year. Not only did the Ducks have the best conference record in the Pac-12, but they also won the inaugural conference championship game in a game not as close as the 49-31 final.

In today's article, we take an in-depth look at the running backs for the Badgers and the Ducks.

Oregon: The Duck running back corps was considered one of the deepest in the nation prior to the beginning of the season. Nothing that occurred during fall camp or the season changes that thought process.

In the off-season, LaMichael James 15 pounds of muscle to his frame. After a less than stellar performance against LSU to open the season, many began to quietly (and some not so quietly) wonder if the added weight had slowed James down some. After 2 games, James had just 121 yards on 30 carries, only 4.0 yards per carry. James answered the critics, though,

Wisconsin: Wisconsin, answering the question if anyone in the nation could match-up running backs with the Ducks has a very valuable tandem of their own. Monte Ball entered this season as the second leading returning rusher for the Badgers. Ball was behind James White and the John Clay last season. With Clay having entered the NFL draft, the Badgers figured to have a two way race for the starting position between White and Ball. Ball spent the off-season losing 25 pounds and gaining quickness without sacrificing any power. Through the first four non-conference games, Ball and White were even in their production, but against Nebraska, Ball began to separate himself as the lead running back for the Badgers. Against the Cornhuskers, Ball had a workmanlike performance with 30 carries for 151 yards and 4 touchdowns. Over his last five games of the season, Ball had 133 carries for 909 yards and 14 touchdowns. This was an incredible stretch for Ball and catapulted him into the Heisman talk and a trip to New York City as a Heisman finalist .Ball's best performance of the season would have been against Purdue when he rushed 20 times for 223 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ball was a very effective receiver out of the backfield this season snagging 20 receptions for 256 yards and 6 more touchdowns.

James White was the leading rusher for the Badgers in 2010 and looked 

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