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College football: Hard to ignore

Often overlooked Stanford team wins first Rose Bowl since 1972

Posted: January 1, 2013 6:21 p.m.
Updated: January 1, 2013 6:21 p.m.
Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis is hit by Stanford linebacker Joe Hemschoot (40) during the second half of the Rose Bowl on Tuesday in Pasadena. Stanford won 20-14. Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis is hit by Stanford linebacker Joe Hemschoot (40) during the second half of the Rose Bowl on Tuesday in Pasadena. Stanford won 20-14.
Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis is hit by Stanford linebacker Joe Hemschoot (40) during the second half of the Rose Bowl on Tuesday in Pasadena. Stanford won 20-14.

PASADENA — Who needs Luck or hype?

Stanford, which could argue that it played better than nearly every college football team since mid-October, defeated Wisconsin 20-14 Tuesday in the 99th playing of the Rose Bowl Game.

With a defense intent on limiting Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, the NCAA FBS all-time leading touchdown scorer, and a good-enough offense, the Cardinal showed just how significant it is in the college football landscape.

This despite losing star quarterback Andrew Luck to the NFL and being sidestepped by many who thought Oregon or disappointing USC was the premier team in the Pac-12.

No. 8 Stanford (12-2) beat both teams and found a replacement for Luck in freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan, who was 12-of-19 for 123 yards and ran for another 54 on seven carries.

“It was understandable. We weren’t upset about it at all,” said Stanford head coach David Shaw of how people saw Stanford after Luck’s departure. “But the thing is we knew we had a good team. Andrew knew he had a good team around him. Andrew was as excited about this year coming up as anybody that we have.”

Shaw pointed to the fact that few people were talking about the Cardinal running game, the offensive line and the front seven.

All were major factors in Stanford’s first Rose Bowl victory since 1972.

Starting with the front seven.

Unranked Wisconsin (8-6) couldn’t repeat the quick start it had in its 70-31 mauling of Nebraska in the Big Ten championship game and paid for it.

Ball played well, but 100 yards on 24 carries was a victory for Stanford.

“It was just challenging for us to scout them and watch film on them because we’ve really never faced a 3-4 defense with the stand-up D-ends that they have,” Ball said. “But their interior group is very physical and have shown that they do a great job of stopping the run. And they showed it today.”

The Stanford offensive line allowed no sacks and paved the way for running back Stepfan Taylor to earn 88 yards on 20 carries.

Stanford appeared early on like it was going to run away with the game, scoring touchdowns on its first two drives.

Stanford brought out some trickery on its first drive. On the sixth play from scrimmage, a double reverse ended in the hands of wide receiver Drew Terrell, the third player to touch the ball on the play. He passed down field to Jamal-Rashad Patterson, who made an acrobatic catch at the Wisconsin 16-yard line for a 34-yard reception.

On the ensuing play, Hogan handed off to Kelsey Young, who started in the slot. Young ran left and untouched into the end zone to give Stanford a 7-0 lead with 11:24 to play in the first quarter.

After Wisconsin failed to answer, Stanford kept its foot on the gas. Hogan’s 43-yard completion to tight end Zach Ertz set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Taylor for a 14-0 lead with 6:35 to go in the first quarter.

Wisconsin went to Ball, whose running helped take the Badgers deep into Stanford territory. But the result was 14 plays, two near touchdowns and zero points. The first would-be touchdown was a Ball 8-yard run that was called back on a holding penalty.

The next was a Curt Phillips pass on third-and-goal from the 10 to Jacob Pedersen that was originally ruled a touchdown. After a review, Pedersen was ruled down a half-yard short of the end zone.

Wisconsin kept Ball on the sideline for the fourth down and snapped the ball to running back James White out of its barge formation. He was stopped short of the end zone.

That play proved to be critical.

Wisconsin held Stanford deep in its own territory and got the ball back on its 49. Wisconsin later rode Ball into the end zone on an 11-yard run, his 83rd career touchdown, that capped a quick drive to cut Stanford’s lead to 14-7 with 9:05 to play in the first half.

That only temporarily disrupted the Cardinal’s offensive rhythm.

Stanford made good on a 47-yard field goal by Jordan Williamson for a 17-7 lead with 6:19 to play in the second quarter.

Yet Wisconsin replied.

With 2:23 to play in the half, Wisconsin mounted a 10-play drive that ended in a 4-yard touchdown pass from Phillips to wide receiver Jordan Fredrick that cut Stanford’s lead to 17-14.

The third quarter proved to be a tug-of-war where neither team could move the ball.

Stanford finally broke through late in the fourth quarter and ate clock at the same time.

A 12-play drive took 6:22 off the clock and Williamson made a 22-yard field goal for a 20-14 lead.

Wisconsin’s last gasp brought it to the Stanford 49 and a second-and-5 with just over two minutes to play.

Phillips threw a pass down the middle intended for Pedersen, but defensive back Usua Amanam stepped in front and intercepted it.

“I thought they competed extremely hard,” said Wisconsin interim head coach Barry Alvarez of his team. The Wisconsin athletic director and three-time Rose Bowl champion coach of the Badgers came out of retirement to lead the team after Bret Bielema left for Arkansas in December. “We made plays. I thought when you fall behind 14-0 I thought it was a microcosm of their whole season. They fought back, got in the ballgame. Again, the last possession they had themselves in a position where they had a chance to win the football game.”

Wisconsin has now lost the last three Rose Bowl games.


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