After being overshadowed by Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne during the regular season, Wisconsin quarterback Brooks Bollinger made the late plays today that allowed the fourth-ranked Badgers to defeat No. 22 Stanford, 17-9, and become the first Big Ten Conference team to win two consecutive Rose Bowls.
Stanford had the services of injured standouts Troy Walters and Willie Howard, but the Cardinal's chances of upsetting the Badgers ended because its usually high-powered offense had its worst performance of the season. Quarterback Todd Husak frequently overthrew receivers, and Stanford rushed for a Rose Bowl record-low of minus-five yards in a 17-9 loss before 93,731 at the Rose Bowl.
"We didn't make the plays we made all year," said Husak, who completed 17 of 34 passes for 258 yards. "There were at least five plays where if I made the play, we would have at least moved the chains."
The Cardinal made it inside the Badgers' 10-yard line three times and came up short twice, including a blocked punt when John Sande's high snap allowed Mike Echols to block Mike Biselli's 23-yard field goal try.
Despite its offensive shortcomings, Stanford (8-4), which came in averaging 37.2 points and 467 yards per game, trailed only 10-9 late in the fourth quarter, when Bollinger ran one yard for a touchdown with 7 minutes 22 seconds to play.
Stanford was forced to punt after three plays on its ensuing possession. It still had a chance to tie and send the game into overtime with a touchdown and two-point conversion on its final possession, which began on its 20-yard line with 2:19 left after Vitaly Pisetsky missed a 34-yard field goal attempt.
Husak completed 20- and 11-yard passes to Tafiti Uso, putting the ball on the Wisconsin 44. Two false-start penalties and a sack for a two-yard loss moved the ball back to the Cardinal 46. Husak hit DeRonnie Pitts for a 15-yard gain, setting up fourth and seven at the Badgers 44. Husak then threw an incomplete pass.
However, referee Dennis Hennigan ruled the 25-second play clock had expired before the play, giving Stanford one more shot. But Husak was not able to get off a pass, slipping to the ground after taking the snap.
Wisconsin, which got a 200-yard rushing performance from Dayne, then began celebrating its back-to-back Rose Bowl victories.
"When we found out we had a chance to be the first Big Ten team to do that, we made that one of our goals for the season," said Badgers Coach Barry Alvarez, who coached from the sideline for the first time since undergoing knee replacement surgery Nov. 16. "There's nothing like doing something no one else has done. You don't get many opportunities to do that in life."
After losing 16 of 18 games between 1970 and 1987, the Big Ten leads the series against the Pacific-10 Conference, 28-26, including victories in seven of the last eight games.
Dayne was selected as the game's most valuable player for the second consecutive year, carrying the ball 34 times, including a four-yard third-quarter touchdown run that put the Badgers (10-2) ahead to stay. The score came two plays after Dayne burst up the middle for a 64-yard gain.
"We had a talk at halftime and everyone came out motivated," Dayne said. "I saw a hole, and I ran through it."
The leading rusher in NCAA Division I-A history, Dayne concluded his collegiate career by setting one Rose Bowl record and tying another. Dayne's touchdown gave him the Rose Bowl record for points scored with 30 and tied Neal Snow's Rose Bowl career record with five touchdowns.
Travis Hanson, who kicked for Washington in the 1991, 1992 and 1993 games, and Snow shared the previous scoring record with 25 points. Snow had run for five touchdowns in Michigan's 49-0 victory over Stanford in the Rose Bowl in 1902, when touchdowns were worth five points. Dayne had rushed for four touchdowns and 246 yards in Wisconsin's 38-31 victory over UCLA in the 1999 Rose Bowl.
Dayne joined Washington quarterback Bob Scholredt (1960-61) and Southern California running back Charles White (1979-80) as the only other two-time players of the game.
Both Walters, who won the Biletnikoff Award as college football's best wide receiver, and Howard, the Morris Trophy recipient as the Pac-10's top defensive lineman, had been expected to miss the game.
Walters dislocated his right wrist when he landed awkwardly while trying to catch an errant pass during Tuesday's practice. Howard had been listed by Coach Tyrone Willingham as "extremely doubtful" Tuesday because of a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee suffered in the regular season finale against Notre Dame.
Walters caught three passes for 52 yards, all in the first half. His receptions proved crucial to both of Stanford's first-half scores. His 28-yard reception moved the Cardinal from its 3 to its 31 on a 10-play, 87-yard drive culminated with Biselli's 28-yard second-quarter field goal. Walters set up the first half's only touchdown, Kerry Carter's one-yard run, 2:03 before halftime, with a diving catch of Husak's 19-yard pass at the 3-yard line.
Big Day for Dayne
Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne capped his career at Wisconsin with 200 yards on 34 carries, including a four-yard touchdown. The effort put the NCAA career rushing leader over the 7,000-yard mark.