At the close of September, the nation essentially had written off the Badgers for a Big Ten contender. Seven straight victories later, they land back in Pasadena for their second consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl. In addition, tailback Ron Dayne made history by eclipsing the national rushing record and winning the Heisman Trophy.
Stanford seemed to do just the bare minimum in order to represent the Pac Ten. Being one of the lowest ranked teams to grace the Rose Bowl grounds didn’t affect the hoards of Cardinal fans that helped cram the stadium for Stanford’s first trip here since 1972.
The matchup was classic Big Ten versus Pac Ten. Stanford is a preppy wine and cheese crowd while Wisconsin is more of a fraternity beer and brats crowd. Stanford offers a more aerial attack in their style of play while Wisconsin plays the role of an infantry-like ground game. Even the bands displayed a striking contrast. Stanford’s band is wild and liberal with individual outfits and more freestyle as opposed to marching. Wisconsin marches in with a high step and strictly uniformed.
However, the Rose Bowl itself remained constant offering the perfect college football setting with views of mountains and traditional atmosphere. The weather, however, was far from California-esque. Wisconsin fans might have felt more at home wearing sweatshirts with temperatures in the low sixties and overcast skies. Mother Nature hardly dampened spirits as the old stadium filled with red from both participants.
The pregame involved the national anthem performed by Stanford’s band accompanied by the flyover and fireworks. The fireworks continued in the stands as the Badger student section and Stanford student section were pressed next to one another. The vulgarities that were bellowed in unison by Badger students had the preppy Stanford crowd picking up their jaw from the ground. Stanford celebrity, Chelsea Clinton, was somewhere in attendance and the merciless Badger students had a few inappropriate chants for her, as well. Wisconsin fans found anything they could to tag the Cardinal partisans – even poking fun at their mascot, which is dressed in what looks like a homemade tree costume.
As far as the game was concerned, prognosticators had the Badgers destroying Stanford. Yet, the Cardinal played valiantly and led at halftime 9-3. Ron Dayne turned it on in the second half and barreled for a 64 yard run setting up his own 4 yard score. Similar to the Iowa game where Dayne broke the record, the Badger students shouted his name in unison each time he ran. Stanford students fought back by adding “SUCKS” each time “RON DAYNE” was shouted. Badger fans retorted by screaming “HEISMAN” sporadically.
Wisconsin led 10-9 after Dayne’s first touchdown and Bollinger added another later in the contest finishing the scoring at 17-9. Wisconsin fans celebrated the Badgers’ third Rose Bowl victory in the nineties and the Badgers became the first Big Ten team to win two consecutive Rose Bowls. Ron Dayne won his second Rose Bowl MVP with his 200-yard performance and praised Stanford’s play after the game over the PA system. His recognition of the opponent’s performance was a classic example of Dayne’s respect and I hope it eased some of the mocking that the Badger fans smothered over Stanford. Wisconsin completed another phenomenal season and I was proud to be a part of all the history made.