Something had to give when the Stanford Cardinal and Wisconsin Badgers took the field on New Year’s Day 2013.
The Cardinal hadn’t claimed a Rose Bowl Game title since knocking off Michigan in 1972.
For the Badgers, treks to Southern California had become the decade norm, but after two consecutive losses in 2011 (TCU) and 2012 (Oregon), appearances in Pasadena were no longer enough.
If redemption was the theme of the 99th Rose Bowl Game, the Badgers had the perfect man to provide a little extra spark. Due to coaching changes following the regular season, current athletic director Barry Alvarez came down to coach the team one final time. Alvarez of course is no stranger to the Rose Bowl Game, going undefeated (3-0) in three prior appearances.
Although Stanford hadn’t appeared in the Rose Bowl Game since 2000, quarterback Kevin Hogan and the Cardinal wasted little time getting adjusted. Stanford raced 80 yards down the field on its first possession, capped off by a 16-yard touchdown run by running back Kelsey Young. While Young finished off the drive, the game’s first highlight came on a triple reverse that saw wide receivers Drew Terrell and Jamal-Rashad Patterson connect on a 34-yard pass attempt.
After the Cardinal defense held firm, Hogan and Co. got the ball back at their own 21-yard line. This time Stanford went down the field in a blazing five-play drive, which featured a 43-yard catch by All-American tight end Zach Ertz. Running back Stepfan Taylor finished off the drive with a three-yard touchdown scamper, and Stanford found itself up 14-0 only 8:25 into the contest.
On the ensuing possession, Wisconsin drove the ball 74 yards down to the one-yard line, but failed to come away with any points after running back James White was stuffed on a 4th down rushing attempt.
The Badgers would finally get on the scoreboard on their next offensive trip with an 11-yard touchdown run by Montee Ball. On the play, Ball became the first player in Rose Bowl Game history to have a touchdown in three separate appearances. Regardless, the Badgers found themselves playing from behind with the score still 14-7 in favor of Stanford.
The Cardinal would add on to their lead, as sophomore Jordan Williamson connected on the fourth-longest field goal attempt (47 yards) in the game’s history to push the lead back to 10.
After the teams traded empty possessions, Wisconsin had the final laugh of the half as senior quarterback Curt Phillips led a 10-play drive spanning 85 yards, primarily with his feet. Phillips’ spectacular 38-yard dash set up a touchdown pass to wide receiver Jordan Fredrick, and the Badgers went into the locker room down 17-14.
While the first half was an up-and-down affair, the third quarter took the game in an entirely different direction. In 12 minutes of play, the teams combined for 60 yards and were forced to punt seven times. Only three first downs were recorded, two of which came on 13-yard runs by the two quarterbacks (Hogan and Phillips). Yet heading into the final quarter, Stanford still led 17-14.
With 10:45 left in the contest, the Cardinal had a simple plan: hand the ball off to Taylor. The team’s senior leader, who would later be named the Offensive Player of the Game, did not disappoint, carrying the ball six times for 26 yards. And on a drive that was as much about burning clock as it was about scoring points, the Cardinal were able to do a little bit of both.
Williamson connected on a chip shot from 22 yards out and with 4:23 remaining Stanford held a 20-14 advantage.
“I just felt like maybe we were a team of destiny,” Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez said about his thinking on the final drive.
Unfortunately, destiny had a date with the other team.
After driving into Stanford territory, Wisconsin was looking for more when Curt Phillips heaved a second down pass over the middle of the field. Unfortunately for Phillips, Stanford nose tackle Josh Mouro deflected the pass and the ball sailed directly into the arms of nickelback Usua Amanam.
After 40 long years, the wait was finally over. Head coach David Shaw and the Stanford Cardinal were Rose Bowl Game champions again.
Amanam, who earned Defensive Player of the Game honors for his fourth quarter heroics, was a bit more frank when discussing his game-saving play.
“I don't think one play wins any game,” said Amanam. “I just happened to be at the right place at the right time, and we were able to kind of seal the game with that one.”
For the third straight year, Montee Ball and the Badgers seemed to be at the wrong place at the wrong time when it came time to winning late in Pasadena. While the senior running back rushed for 100 yards on 24 carries -- becoming the only player in history to have three 100-yard performances in the Rose Bowl Game -- individual stats seemed rather hallow when all was said and done.
“This is not the way I want to be remembered,” said Ball. “Speaking for the entire senior group, this is not the way we wanted to go out.”
Attendance: 93, 359
Temperature: 61 degrees, sunny and partly cloudy
STAN – Young, 16-yard run (Williamson kick good)
STAN – Taylor, 3-yard run (Williamson kick good)
WIS – Ball, 3-yard run (Russell good)
STAN - 47-yard kick by Williamson
WIS – Fredrick, 4-yard pass from Phillips (Russell good)
STAN – 22-yard kick by Williamson
Stanford: David Shaw
Wisconsin: Barry Alvarez
Stanford’s David Shaw became the first African American head coach to lead his team to a Rose Bowl Game victory.
Stanford: Taylor 22-88; Hogan 7-54; Wilkerson 5-31, Young 1-16; Hewitt 1-0
Wisconsin: Ball 24-100; Phillips 5-64; Gordon 9-51; White 6-4; Doe 1- -1
Stanford: Hogan 12-18-123
Wisconsin: Phillips 10-16-83
Stanford: Ertz 3-61; Patterson 1-34; Montgomery 3-26; Terrell 2-20; Taylor 3-17; Wilkerson 1- -1
Wisconsin: Abbrederis 3-44; Pederson 1-9; Arneson 1-9; Ball 1-7; White 2-5; Doe 1-5; Fredrick 1-4
Stanford: Zychlinski 6-273
Wisconsin: Meyer 7-312