A Trip Back to Memory Lane

The Rose Bowl and its meaning to Wisconsin natives is off the charts, which will be indicated by the sea of red that will engulf Pasadena this afternoon when No.4 Wisconsin takes on No.3 TCU. But to two Wisconsin players, the Rose Bowl means something much different ... it's a sign they're back home.

PASADENA, Calif. – Getting a chance to visit the Rose Bowl Stadium after landing Saturday, members of Wisconsin's football team got a chance to take pictures, run around on the historic field and marvel at the magnitude and breathtaking backdrop the surrounding provide.

For junior cornerback Devin Smith and freshman defensive end Tyler Dippel, a couple of southern California transplants, the opportunity were their official homecoming moment.

"Everyone comes out here and says how nice it is or they are shocked by how nice LA is but I just feel so comfortable here," said Dippel. "I am really glad we got to come here. I wish we can come here every year and that's the plan from here on out."

Smith's uncle and grandfather have lived in Pasadena for a number of years and Smith got the opportunity to move out to the southern California city for a couple months during his third-grade summer.

Working out with his uncle, a fitness buff, Smith, who played high school football in Coppell, Texas, would get up at 6 a.m. during the summer and make the three-mile run with his uncle around the stadium, even going so far as to do jump ropes in the parking lot.

"He told me that one day, I might be playing there," said Smith, who had traveled to Pasadena every summer until he enrolled at Wisconsin. "I didn't really believe him at the time because I didn't expect myself to go up north to play football. When it became a reality, it became a very special time for me."

After losing his starting job to senior Niles Brinkley and junior Antonio Fenelus, Smith has come on late to be a key asset when the Badgers face a spread offense. Playing the nickel slot, Smith has registerered 29 tackles, including a season-high eight in the win over Northwestern.

"That spread package the last quarter of the season, he was critical in all our stuff," Defensive Coordinator Dave Doeren said. "The fact that he came on, we wouldn't have done what we did without him. He was huge."

Dippel can appreciate both sides of the Rose Bowl equation. Growing up in nearby Yorba Linda and moving to Hartford, Wis., when he was 13, Dippel has seen how much the game means from both the California and Wisconsin perspective.

"In Wisconsin, the Rose Bowl is something special," Dippel said. "The tradition in Wisconsin is going to the Rose Bowls and winning Rose Bowls, so it's a big thing for the state, for this program and for me to play in this game. A lot of my family hasn't even seen me in pads, so it means a lot for them to come see me play and on such a big stage like the Rose Bowl."

While Dippel hasn't been as involved as Smith, the production of the redshirt freshman is no less important. One of the eight men to rotate in on Defensive Line Coach Charlie Partridge's line, Dippel converted to defensive line from linebacker and after spending his redshirt season rehabbing a knee injury, has played in 10 games and registered 11 tackles, two TFLs and one sack.

Dippel expects upwards of 15-20 people to be in the stands while Smith will have his uncle and five other family members in attendance. For Smith, it'll be a run down memory lane with a lot of familiar memories, except the reason for the visit.

"A security guard let me in once because I had never seen the stadium before, so it was definitely a special moment when we pulled up (on Saturday) because everything was familiar," Smith said. "It was special because I just wasn't coming to hang out. I was coming to play a football game."

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