PASADENA, Calif. — The Oregon Ducks had waited 95 years to win another Rose Bowl, and the last few seconds stretched for an eternity. The players in mirrored helmets held each other back on the sideline, waiting on tiptoes for video review to confirm Wisconsin was out of time.
The call went Oregon’s way. The Ducks stormed the hallowed field.
The most futuristic team in college football had buried another bit of history, and that revolutionary offense finally has a shiny trophy that will look right at home among those eye-catching uniforms.
Darron Thomas passed for three touchdowns, De’Anthony Thomas scored on runs of 91 and 64 yards, and the No. 6 Ducks earned their first bowl victory under coach Chip Kelly, holding off the Badgers 45-38 Monday night in the highest-scoring Rose Bowl ever played.
“We had no doubt this year that we were going to come out and do big things,” said Darron Thomas, who passed for 268 yards. “It’s a big statement for the Oregon program.”
The last time Oregon won the Rose Bowl, beating Penn 14-0 in 1917, the players wore leather helmets, not those shiny numbers that exemplify every innovation the Ducks have created during Kelly’s three-year tenure.
Oregon (12-2) showed off that creativity with 621 total yards – second-most in Rose Bowl history – against the tough Badgers, playing at its usual frantic pace until the final whistle.
Lavasier Tuinei caught eight passes for 158 yards and two TDs for the Ducks, who had no postseason success to show for Kelly’s otherwise wildly successful three-year tenure until this landmark offensive performance.
“None of us were around 95 years ago, and we never talked about it,” Kelly said. “We’re a forward-thinking operation, and we’re always looking ahead.”
Maybe so, but it’s unlikely anybody from Oregon will forget how this one ended.
With two long passes, Russell Wilson moved the Badgers to the Oregon 25, but with 2 seconds left and no timeouts. After waiting for the ball to be set, he spiked it to set up a last-ditch heave to the end zone, but the clock hit zeros while he did it.
The Ducks were winners after video review, holding Wisconsin scoreless in the fourth quarter.
“It would have been nice to have a chance there,” said Wilson, who passed for 296 yards and two scores. “With 1 second left, I think we could have capitalized.”