Given the skilled running backs of Oregon and Wisconsin, the wide receivers and tight ends may be the most neglected players on the offensive side of the ball for these two teams. While the Ducks and Badgers respectively rank 5th and 11th nationally in rushing yards, neither team is in the top sixty teams in terms of passing yards per game. So who has the edge? Let’s compare the two units:
Oregon: The leading receiver for the Ducks is true freshman De’Anthony Thomas. Thomas is incredibly skilled and versatile; he ranks 3rd on the team in rushing, 1st in return yards, and his 571 receiving yards place him over 100 yards ahead of Oregon’s next leading receiver. Senior wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei has had a solid year catching 40 passes for 441 yards and eight touchdowns. Tight end David Paulson has been very effective this season and has ten receptions for 147 yards and two touchdowns in the last two games. Speedy sophomore Josh Huff has had his best games against the best competition: 12 receptions, 142 yards, and two touchdowns in the three games against LSU, Stanford, and USC. Oregon’s group of wide receivers and tight ends is under-utilized due to the run-first style of offense, but they are capable of scorching a defense.
Wisconsin: The Badgers receiving corps is led by Nick Toon and Jared Abbrederis. The two have combined for 106 receptions, 1,636 yards, and 16 touchdowns. The Badgers’ tight end, Jacob Pederson, caught eight touchdowns and trails only Toon and Abbrederis in receiving. While the Oregon defense will likely spend most of their time game-planning to stop Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball, they must not forget about Wisconsin’s receivers and tight ends because they have great ability to get open for quarterback Russell Wilson.
Advantage: This could go either way, both units are capable of being outstanding but both teams prefer to run the ball more often than passing. I will give a slight edge to Wisconsin here because having two receivers on the outside, a talented tight end in the middle of the field, and an outstanding quarterback makes defending the entire field a tough task.