Created on: January 02, 2013
Andrew Luck led Stanford to a reemergence into the National spotlight the last few years. He led a Cardinal attack that had been mediocre for the better part of a decade back into the spotlight, though not quite far enough to make it a National Championship contender. Preseason experts saw Stanford as no better than a third place Pac-12 squad this season, what with the loss of Luck and a number of other high draft picks. Unfortunately, for Wisconsin, the team residing in Palo Alto, California forgot to read the memo.
Stanford traveled to Pasadena on New Years Day and pulled off a feat that neither Andrew Luck or Super Bowl MVP John Elway was able to accomplish. The Cardinal, led by a hard nosed defense and a running back that never quits, defeated the University of Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl 21-14. In doing so, Stanford won their first Rose Bowl since Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett led the team back in 1972.
Forty years later, the drought ended for the Cardinal, thanks to a gritty performance all around. Stanford jumped out to an early lead, which could have meant curtains for the Wisconsin Badgers, who were going with their third starting quarterback this season. Kelsey Young opened the scoring for the Cardinal, which was noteworthy because he is not a big part of the Stanford attack. His 16 yard run made it 7-0, and then Stepfan Taylor scored from 3 yards out, making it 14-0. Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan controlled the offense, even though he did not put up huge numbers.
The game had the earmarks of being a blow out, but the Badgers would not wilt under the bright lights of the Rose Bowl. They came out determined for the rest of the half and did something not many teams had to Stanford. They ran the ball and ran it effectively, with Montee Ball going for 73 of their 119 first half rushing yards. Ball would score a touchdown in his third straight Rose Bowl, making it 14-7. Right before half, Curt Phillips tossed a touchdown pass and the halftime scoreboard read Stanford 17 Wisconsin 14.
Lucky for Stanford, the second half was nothing like the first. There would be no Barry Alvarez magic to help Wisconsin take this game back to Madison, Wisconsin. Alvarez, who was stepping in for one game for the departed Bret Bielema, had been 3-0 in Rose Bowl contests. His team would not give him that coveted fourth title.
Stanford's defense came out and took control in the second half. The Cardinal resembled the bunch that shutdown the high powered Oregon Ducks to knock them out of the national title picture. The holes that Ball ran through in the first half were mere slivers in the second. Wisconsin would average only 1.4 yards on the ground the rest of the way, leaving the Stanford pass rush to beat up on quarterback Curt Phillips.
The only second half scoring was a Stanford field goal in the fourth quarter, making it 20-14. Wisconsin managed one last drive, moving the ball into Stanford territory as time was running down. However, Usua Amanam stepped in front of a Phillips aerial to put a cap on a Stanford return to Rose Bowl glory. It was a long time coming and even sweeter because it was so unexpected. Experts figured with all the lost talent that coach David Shaw had some rebuilding work to do. So much for that line of thinking, as the Cardinal won the Pac-12 title and the Grandaddy of all bowl games in one season.
Learn more about this author, John Atchison.
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