Ducks flourish with QB run game
Herbert has 3 TD runs to lead Oregon
PASADENA, Calif. — Justin Herbert scored his third rushing touchdown of the 106th Rose Bowl on a thrilling 30-yard run with 7:41 to play Wednesday night, and No. 7 Oregon held off No. 11 Wisconsin 28-27 to win its third straight trip to the Granddaddy of Them All.
Brady Breeze returned a fumble 31 yards for an early touchdown for the Ducks (12-2). Herbert then made his goahead rambling run on the next snap after Breeze forced another fumble in yet another frenetic edition of this venerated bowl game.
Oregon held on to cap its Pac-12 championship season with its 12th win in 13 games. The Ducks celebrated on the famous turf amid confetti and cheers after the fourth Rose Bowl victory in school history.
Aron Cruickshank returned an early kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown for the Big Ten runner-up Badgers (10-4), but they lost in their fourth consecutive trip to Pasadena over the last 10 years.
Herbert passed for just 138 yards without a touchdown in his collegiate finale, and Oregon managed just 204 yards of offense. Instead, the Ducks improbably relied on the legs of their 6-foot-6 quarterback to grind out a landmark win for second-year coach Mario Cristobal.
Herbert had only 10 rushing touchdowns in the first 41 starts of his career, but he turned into a big-play machine on the ground. After he scored on runs of 4 and 5 yards in the first half, stiff-arming Wisconsin defenders on both runs, he rambled through the defense for the goahead, 30-yard score in what's sure to be the signature moment of the four-year starter's career.
Herbert eventually got back to what he normally does best: He made a key 12-yard throw to Mycah Pittman for a first down with 1:51 to play, and his 28-yard throw to Juwan Johnson with 1:03 left allowed the Ducks to run out the clock.
Eight years after De'Anthony Thomas' Ducks surged past Russell Wilson's Badgers to win a 45-38 thriller in the 2012 Rose Bowl, their schools put on another entertaining evening with six lead changes, key special teams mistakes and two stout defenses stretched by inventive offenses. Jonathan Taylor rushed for 94 yards and Quintez Cephus caught seven passes for 59 yards and a score, but Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan's offense couldn't capitalize on its whopping advantages in time of possession (38:03-21:57) and total yards (322-204).