Both the Cardinal and the Badgers' run-heavy offenses were balanced by tough defenses that were known for holding even some of the most efficient opposing offenses. The 20-14 decision of the 99th Rose Bowl in favor of Stanford didn't disappoint.
Overall, the Badgers only allowed the Cardinal 344 total offensive yards, split between 187 rushing yards and 157 passing yards — holding right around their season average of 322.6 per game.
But before UW could settle into its own, Stanford posted two touchdowns on its first two drives of the game — its only two of the first quarter.
"Their first two scores they came out and they did some trick stuff, some reverses … I think they caught us by surprise with those plays, but from there we adjusted on the sidelines and we just all came together as a defense," junior defensive tackle Beau Allen said. "We just said, ‘we're not going to let them score again.' I thought we did a good job from there."
From that point, Stanford wouldn't touch the end zone again — but it did find a way to score.
On the next drive the Badgers forced a three-and-out, which then led to a UW touchdown on the following drive. Prior to half time Wisconsin forced another Stanford three-and-out, but not before it scored a field goal to take a 17-14 lead into the half. The defense was just getting started.
Through four drives in the third quarter the Badger defense forced four punts — two of which were the result of a three-and-out.
"Quite frankly I thought our defense played very, very well in the second half," head coach Barry Alvarez said. "Give them a couple of field goals. Both defenses picked it up, made adjustments and picked it up."
The Badgers defense became increasingly suffocating through out the second half, until the fourth quarter when it bent too far. Starting on its own 29, the Cardinal used eight rushes — seven from senior running back Stepfan Taylor, one from freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan — and only three passes to work their way down to the Wisconsin five yard line. While the Badgers held them out of the end zone, Stanford notched its second field of the game for the 20-14 lead.
Taylor managed 88 yards and a touchdown on 20 touches but was a force to be reckoned with as the Badgers struggled to stop him as the game wore on.
But Taylor wasn't the only play-making rusher the Badgers had to worry about. Hogan amassed the second-most rushing yards for the Cardinal on the night with 54 yards on seven carries.
"You've got to be aware as a pass rusher, where the QB is in the pocket," Allen said. "You just have to get him down at all costs."
One of Hogan's most important rushes of the day came on Stanford's first drive of the game. Facing third and three from his own 27, Hogan ran for four yards to keep the drive alive. Four plays later the Cardinal took a 7-0 lead.
"It was one of those things where we weren't playing the things that we were taught to play," junior safety Dezmen Southward said of the Badgers first quarter play. "We practice those same things a million times and we didn't play them the right way. I think after that we really focused in and really started to do everything we were taught and it showed."
While Wisconsin's defensive break downs in the first quarter shouldn't stand as the reason the Badgers lost in their third consecutive trip to Pasadena, it does end up posing as the difference-maker.
Either way, Wisconsin ended just one touchdown short of victory.
"Obviously those two scores we gave up in the beginning, they didn't help — they only won by six points," Allen said. "I think if we could have come out a little stronger on defense and stopped some of those trick plays we would have been in better shape in the fourth quarter, that's for sure."