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Wisconsin, Oregon to make Rose Bowl returns

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — The last two losers of the Rose Bowl have another chance to get it right.

Pac-12 champion Oregon will face Big Ten champion Wisconsin on Jan. 2 in the 98th edition of the Granddaddy of Them All, the schools learned Sunday night.

The ninth-ranked Badgers (11-2) are headed to their second straight Rose Bowl after losing 21-19 to TCU last year. The No. 6 Ducks (11-2) lost to Terrelle Pryor and Ohio State in Pasadena two seasons ago before falling in the BCS title game last season.

Players from both teams knew their holiday destination well before the official announcement, celebrating with roses in their teeth after they won their conferences' first title games over the weekend. Oregon battered UCLA 49-31 at Autzen Stadium on Friday, and Wisconsin edged Michigan State 42-39 on Saturday.

These football powerhouses will cap two of the best stretches in the schools' histories with their first meeting since 2001, and just their fifth head-to-head matchup ever — yet both schools are eager to finish their seasons with a win for a change.

Wisconsin has matched the heights of its decade-ago glory days under coach Barry Alvarez by making back-to-back Rose Bowls for just the second time in school history. Yet the Badgers have lost three of their last four bowls in coach Bret Bielema's five-year tenure, winning only the Champs Sports Bowl in 2009.

Oregon still hasn't won a bowl game under third-year coach Chip Kelly, even with tailback LaMichael James leading a high-flying offense while the Ducks unseated Southern California as the West Coast's dominant program.

The byzantine BCS rules will allow the traditional Pac-12/Big Ten intersectional matchup for just the sixth time in the last 11 years. The Horned Frogs crashed Pasadena last season thanks to a BCS rule that required the Rose Bowl to skip over powerful Pac-10 second-place finisher Stanford, which ended up winning the Orange Bowl.

Oregon wrapped up its third straight conference title over the weekend, and the Ducks appeared to be in the running for the BCS title game until No. 5 USC's 38-35 win at Autzen last month.

The Ducks followed up that setback by crushing Oregon State and UCLA, and their latest Rose Bowl appearance is a fitting cap to the careers of the most successful seniors in school history. The Ducks have won 43 games in the past four seasons, including more than 10 victories this season for the third time ever — and the second straight year.

Oregon has made five appearances in the Rose Bowl, but hasn't won it since beating Pennsylvania 14-0 in the third edition of the game on Jan. 1, 1917.

The Ducks are anxious to counter the national perception that their unusual schemes can be beaten when elite teams have extra time to prepare for them, whether in last season's title-game loss to Auburn or this season's opening loss to No. 1 LSU.

The Badgers finished their season with five straight victories to steamroll into Pasadena. Wisconsin rebounded nicely from back-to-back last-second losses to Michigan State and Ohio State in late October with a gritty title-game victory over the Spartans in Indianapolis.

Powered by tailback Montee Ball and one-season-wonder quarterback Russell Wilson, Wisconsin has won two straight Big Ten titles for just the third time in school history — and the last time the Badgers did it, Ron Dayne led them to victory at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2000.

After the fourth 11-victory season in school history, the Badgers are in the Rose Bowl for the eighth time overall.

With NFL games scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 1, the Rose Bowl won't be played on New Year's Day for just the seventh time since 1967.