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01/01/2013 10:38 PM EST
Stanford holds off Wisconsin 20-14 in Rose Bowl
STANFORD 20, WISCONSIN 14

By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- Shayne Skov and Zach Ertz believe every
game in Stanford's improbable football renaissance led the
Cardinal to midfield at the Rose Bowl.



That's where Usua Amanam made the interception that stopped
Wisconsin's final drive with 2:30 to play in a grind-it-out
game. That's where Kevin Hogan grinned broadly as he took the
final snap on Stanford's first Rose Bowl victory in 40 years.



And it's the spot where the once-struggling team from a school
better known for brains than brawn raised the West Coast's most
coveted trophy after a 20-14 victory over the Badgers on Tuesday
night.



"There's a sense of accomplishment, because we got somewhere we
hadn't been yet," said Skov, who made eight tackles while
leading Stanford's second-half shutout. "If you looked at our
goals at the beginning of the season, this was on top of the
list, and we got it done. We're extremely satisfied."



Stepfan Taylor rushed for 89 yards and an early touchdown, while
Hogan passed for 123 yards, but Stanford (12-2) won the 99th
Rose Bowl with a shutdown effort by its defense. Although
Stanford didn't score many style points against the Badgers, the
Cardinal could celebrate because they didn't let Wisconsin score
any points at all after halftime, holding the Badgers to 82
yards.



After winning the Orange Bowl two years ago and losing the
Fiesta Bowl in overtime last season, Stanford earned its first
conference title and its first trip to the Granddaddy of Them
All in 13 years, which is what most Pac-12 players really want.



"We've been in BCS games the past two years, but neither of
those mean as much as this one did," said Ertz, the tight end
who had three catches for 61 yards. "This is the one we play for
every year. It shows Stanford is here to stay."



The Cardinal finished with 12 victories for just the second time
in school history - and the second time in the last three years
during this surge begun by Andrew Luck and coach Jim Harbaugh.
Many Pac-12 observers expected a sharp decline at Stanford this
season, but coach David Shaw and Hogan achieved something even
Harbaugh and Luck couldn't manage.



"We knew this was going to be a battle, and we wouldn't expect
it any other way," Shaw said. "We know it's going to be tight,
it's going to be close, and we're going to find a way to win.
That's the way it's been all year."



Stanford clamped down on the Big Ten champion Badgers (8-6), who
lost the Rose Bowl in heartbreaking fashion for the third
consecutive season. Montee Ball rushed for 100 yards and his
FBS-record 83rd touchdown, but Wisconsin managed only four first
downs in that scoreless second half.



With impressive defense of its own, Wisconsin still stayed in
position for an upset in the one-game return of Hall of Fame
coach Barry Alvarez, who was back on the Badgers' sideline in
his red sweater-vest seven years after hanging up his whistle.



"This group of kids has been through a lot, and they competed
extremely hard against a very high-quality team," said Alvarez,
who nearly pulled off a stunner while bridging the gap between
coaches Bret Bielema and Gary Andersen. "We've played three very
good football games (at the Rose Bowl). These guys played hard.
In fact, most people would like to get here once. But we just
didn't get it done."



Kelsey Young took his only carry 16 yards for a score on
Stanford's opening possession, and Taylor scored on the second
drive after a big catch by Ertz. Wisconsin kept the Cardinal out
of the end zone for the final 51 minutes, holding them to three
points in the second half, but Stanford's defense didn't need
any more help in the Cardinal's eighth straight victory.



When Bielema abruptly left Wisconsin for Arkansas after winning
the Big Ten title game, Alvarez agreed to coach his fourth Rose
Bowl before handing off his program to Andersen, who met with
Alvarez on the field before the game. But the Badgers' third
consecutive January in Pasadena ended in much the same way as
the last two: With the offense failing to get the late score the
Badgers desperately needed.



"This stings just as much, because we fell extremely short when
we had the opportunity to win," Ball said. "We had numerous
opportunities to capitalize on big plays, and we fell short. ...
This is not the way we want to be remembered. Speaking for the
entire senior group, this is not the way we wanted to go out."



Curt Phillips went 10 for 16 for 83 yards passing and that
crucial interception for Wisconsin, doing more with 64 yards on
the ground. Jordan Fredrick caught his first career TD pass
right before halftime, but no Badgers receiver had more than
Jared Abbrederis' three catches.



And though Ball became the first player to score touchdowns in
three Rose Bowls, the powerful back fell short of Ron Dayne's
career Rose Bowl rushing record, swarmed under by waves of
tacklers from one of the toughest defenses in the nation - a
defense that shut down the top-ranked Ducks in mid-November to
pave Stanford's path to Pasadena.



"They're a good football team, but we have a very good defense,"
Ertz said. "They stopped Oregon when no one said it could be
done. That shows the unity we have on this team. We're never
going to quit."



Wisconsin was the first five-loss team to make it to Pasadena,
losing three overtime games and making the Big Ten title game
only because Ohio State and Penn State were ineligible. The
Badgers then steamrolled Nebraska to become the first Big Ten
team in three straight Rose Bowls since Michigan in the late
1970s.



With the Rose Bowl filled with fans wearing the schools'
near-identical cardinal-and-white gear, Stanford went up 14-0 on
Taylor's 3-yard TD run just 8 1/2 minutes in. Wisconsin briefly
got rolling behind Ball, who rushed for 296 yards in his first
two Rose Bowls.



Stanford stopped James White inside the 1 on fourth down early
in the second quarter after a touchdown run by Ball was wiped
out by a holding penalty, but Ball scored on the next drive. The
Badgers then mounted an 85-yard drive in the waning 2 1/2
minutes of the first half, with Phillips' 38-yard run setting up
Fredrick's short TD catch to trim Stanford's halftime lead to
17-14.



After halftime adjustments, both defenses dominated the
scoreless third quarter, allowing just three combined first
downs.



Wisconsin's personal foul on a fair-catch punt return finally
sparked the Cardinal early in the fourth quarter. Stanford got
inside the Wisconsin 5 before stalling, and Jordan Williamson's
short field goal put the Cardinal up by six points with 4:23 to
go.



The Badgers got to midfield, but Phillips threw behind Jacob
Pedersen, and Amanam easily made the pick.



"I just happened to be at the right place at the right time,"
Amanam said. "We were able to kind of seal the game on that
one."

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