Rose Bowl: Quarterbacks

As the Ducks and Badgers prepare for the 2012 Rose Bowl on January 2, 2012.

Oregon beat UCLA in the Pac-12 title game to win their spot in the Rose Bowl while Wisconsin beat a tough Michigan State program to earn their right.

In Today's article we take a look at one of the big match-ups of the Rose Bowl.

Quarterbacks

Darron Thomas

Thomas began the 2011 season coming off one of the best years in Oregon history as a quarterback in 2010. He threw for 30 touchdowns and 2,800 yards, and set a national title record for yards thrown in a title game with 363 yards.

Yet despite missing his two senior receivers from last year's team expectations were high for the Ducks and their signal caller.

Thomas came out hitting 31-of-54 passes for 240 yards and one touchdown against LSU in the season opening loss vs. LSU. But Thomas would bounce back and throw a career high six touchdowns the following week against Nevada. Thomas completed 13-of-19 passes for 295 yards and hit 68 percent of his throws.

From there it seemed as if Thomas would make the transition of a good quarterback to an elite on in 2011.

But after blowing out Missouri State where Thomas hit 11-of-15 passes in the first half for three touchdowns Thomas' stats would take a slight dip in the season.

Thomas wouldn't hit the 200 number for the next six games plus missing one game due to injury.

Thomas threw for just 101 yards in Oregon’s Pac-12 opener at Arizona and followed it up with a solid outing against Cal with three touchdowns and throwing for 198 yards.

In a game against Arizona State it looked like Thomas had regained his form and was getting ready for a big game when he suffered a knee injury in the first half and Oregon coaches sent out Bryan Bennett to finish off the Sun Devils.

Thomas would miss the Colorado game and return to struggle against Washington State for Oregon's final game in October. Thomas would be replaced by Bennett in the second half once again and many wondered what was wrong with the field general.

But Thomas would bounce back strong in the months of November and December throwing for a combined 12 touchdowns and just one interception.

Thomas was dominate against Washington, Stanford, and Oregon State while leading the charge late in the game against USC that fell just short, and guided Oregon to their first ever Pac-12 title game victory against UCLA.

For the season Thomas completed 194 passes in 216 attempts for 2,493 yards and 30 touchdowns with just six interceptions. He almost met his mark in completion percentage from last season when Thomas hit 61.4 percent of this throws and his yards-per-attempt was also just down one tenth of his 2010 numbers.

But coming into the Rose Bowl finally healthy from his unknown knee injury the Duck junior is looking to regain the play he was playing earlier in the season and then late again as he got more and more healthy.

With over a month's rest to prep for this game against Wisconsin Thomas should come into the contest fully ready to throw and run as Oregon looks to win their first BCS game in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl.

Russell Wilson

Wisconsin found themselves needing a new quarterback going into the 2011 season after senior Scott Tolzein had graduated after a senior season that saw him throw for over 2400 yards and 16 touchdowns as the Badgers found themselves in the 2011 Rose Bowl game against TCU.

In the summer before the college football programs started workouts former North Carolina State quarterback Russell Wilson picked the Badgers over Auburn.

Wilson's transition into the starting quarterback role was seamless and it was clear he was going to be a star from the get go vs UNLV when he threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns on just 10-of-13 throwing. He also added 62 yards rushing and a score.

In many of Wilson's first few games he put up amazing stats without playing a full game.

17-for-21 and three touchdowns against Oregon State. 347 yards and three touchdowns on 23-of-32 throwing at Northern Illinois. 19-of-25 for 345 yards and three more touchdowns against South Dakota.

Wilson in his first four games of the season never once completed less than 72 percent of his throws and hit 81 percent against Oregon State.

But even with the Badgers going into Big 10 play the senior transfer quarterback never missed a beat when faced with better defenses.

Wilson's play as a senior will go down as one of the best season's is college football history as he completed over 72 percent of his passes and threw for 2800 yards and 31 touchdowns on just 284 attempts and 206 completions. Wilson averaged 10.14 yards-per-attempts with a national high quarterback rating of 191.6.

In huge games like Nebraska, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Michigan State again Wilson dominated when the Badgers needed him most.

The 5-foot-11 quarterback presents a match-up the Ducks haven't seen this season in a quarterback who can sling the ball with the best of them while also having the understanding and the speed to run when needed as he added 320 yards on 73 attempts.

The Virdict

Oregon comes in with one of their best quarterbacks in program history in Thomas but the Badgers present a quarterback who's had one of the best years ever in college football.

How effective will Thomas be is the big question because while he's added some impressive games late in the year passing the ball it was his legs that made him so dangerous last year.

Will we see Thomas go to the ground if his options are not open this time around? Or will Thomas throw the ball away or hand the ball to one of his plenty of capable running backs on a read?

We know what Wilson can do, sling the rock and keep defenses guessing on what he will do next.

Edge Russell Wilson

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