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Oregon Vs. Wisconsin Recap, Rose Bowl 2012: The Numerical

The stats that mattered in Oregon's 45-38 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, from De'Anthony Thomas' explosiveness, to a Russell Wilsonesque performance, to Lavasier Tuinei's finest hour.

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1,129: Total Yardage. Average gain: 8.3 yards per play. We saw great running, great passing, and even a few great defensive plays as well. That last part is important. I love nothing more than all-out MACtion, where the yards and points pile on faster than weight on a new father. (Why no, I do not have personal experience for making this reference. None at all. Nope, none. Why do you ask?) But I like knowing that the defenses are trying. I like when the offenses have to actually work. I loved Baylor-Washington, but there was a little too much "guy running with no defender anywhere on the screen" for my taste. This, on the other hand, was fantastic. Big-time offensive talent had to work for big plays and made them anyway.

314: Rushing yards gained by LaMichael James and De'Anthony Thomas. It took them just 27 carries to do so, but that is almost misleading. It only took Thomas two carries to gain 155 yards and score twice. Way to overshadow two Heisman finalists, De'Anthony. In comparison, James (159) and Montee Ball (164) each had huge games, but it took them a whopping 57 carries to do so. We'll see how Thomas fares as more of a feature back in 2012 (I assume he will do just fine), and we'll see how well his slight frame handles more hits, but he was one of the best complementary pieces in the country in 2011, leading the Ducks in receiving for much of the season and, in the Rose Bowl, took two basic misdirection plays a long, long way.

Set up as Option No. 1 in a triple option from the Oregon 9, Thomas took advantage of a defense leaning left and ripped off a 91-yard touchdown down the right side of the field. Then, at the beginning of the third quarter, he took off 55 yards down the left sideline. He was so fast that he had to slow down for a blocker to take care of the only Wisconsin tackler within 10 yards of him. Thomas also caught four passes for 34 yards (and almost made a disastrous decision on a kickoff return).

158: Lavasier Tuinei receiving yards. According to Off. F/+, Wisconsin had the best offense in the country in the 2011 regular season, and yesterday it was good enough to overcome an 11.6-per-carry average from James and Thomas. If Oregon hadn't also been able to pass well, they wouldn't have won. But Darron Thomas completed eight of nine passes to Tuinei for 158 yards and two touchdowns on his way to an overall stat line of 17-for-23, 268 yards, three touchdowns and a pick. Tuinei caught five passes for 99 yards in the second half, including an 11-yard touchdown and a fourth-and-6 conversion that set up an Oregon field goal; he was the key difference-maker on Oregon's last two scoring drives.

95: Years between Oregon Rose Bowl titles. Something tells me they won't have to wait 95 years for another one.

10.6: Average gain on Russell Wilson pass attempts. Wilson had one of his finest performances in the final game of his career, as did Nick Toon. Wilson completed 13 of 17 passes to Toon and Jared Abbrederis for 223 yards and two touchdowns, and he completed 19 of 25 for 296 yards overall. Throw in 28 rushing yards on four carries, three of which ended in a first down or a touchdown, and you've got something rather Wilsonesque. He had three poor plays -- he was stopped on fourth down in Oregon territory, he was picked off in Wisconsin territory in the third quarter, and of course, he failed to spike the ball before the clock ran out at the end of the game (the mistake wasn't getting the spike off, but in attempting to spike at all), but he was very, very good. Against a lesser offense than Oregon's, Wilson would have done more than enough to not only win the game, but take home MVP honors.

6.0: Average per-touch gain by Montee Ball. He may have been overshadowed by Thomas and James, but he was still spectacular: 32 carries for 164 yards and four catches for 51 yards. He is one of the smartest, most smooth becks in recent college football history, and he showed the full arsenal: solid speed, strength, vision, and instincts. He also attempted to hurdle a defender that was almost standing straight up. Even though it didn't really accomplish anything, the fact that he tried was all sorts of endearing.

0: Wisconsin points on their last four possessions. For a game built on record offensive numbers, it was a small spate of offensive failure that made the difference in the game. The Badgers scored 38 points on their first eight possessions, but their final four drives ended in a diving interception, a three-and-out, a devastating Abbrederis fumble in Oregon territory, and clock expiration. Through most of three quarters, Wisconsin played exactly the game you need to play against Oregon, but they lost the late rounds, and because of that, they lost their second straight Rose Bowl.