Wisconsin Badgers: Their History Playing in the Rose Bowl

Wisconsin Rose Bowl Logo

On January 1, 2020…the Wisconsin Badgers will be appearing in their 10th Rose Bowl when they face the Oregon Ducks.

Going into the game, Wisconsin has a 3-6 record in the nine games they have played in Pasadena.

This will be the second time the Badgers have faced the Ducks in this iconic game. Wisconsin has also faced USC, UCLA and Stanford twice in the Rose Bowl.

Here is a quick rundown of the previous Rose Bowl games.

  • 1953 Rose Bowl: USC 7, Wisconsin 0
  • 1960 Rose Bowl: Washington 44, Wisconsin 8
  • 1963 Rose Bowl: USC 42, Wisconsin 37
  • 1994 Rose Bowl: Wisconsin 21, UCLA 16
  • 1999 Rose Bowl: Wisconsin 38, UCLA 31
  • 2000 Rose Bowl: Wisconsin 17, Stanford 9
  • 2011 Rose Bowl: TCU 21, Wisconsin 19
  • 2012 Rose Bowl: Oregon 45, Wisconsin 38
  • 2013 Rose Bowl: Stanford 20, Wisconsin 14

Yes, the history of playing in Pasadena started in 1953 for Wisconsin. That was also the first bowl game the Badgers ever played in, even though they had some very successful teams previous to that point. But back then, only the Big Ten conference champion was allowed to play in the Rose Bowl, or any bowl for that matter.

The Badgers were 6-3-1 during the 1952 season and were 4-1-1 in the Big Ten conference. That mark gave the Badgers the Big Ten title.

The Badgers were coached by Ivy Williamson in 1952. In seven years as head coach of the Badgers, Williamson had a sparkling 41-19-4 record.

When the Badgers took on the Trojans in the 1953 Rose Bowl, they would be facing the No. 1 defense in the country.

The Badgers knew a little bit about playing defense back then, as their 1951 team had the “Hard Rocks” defense, which was also ranked No. 1 in the country.

On offense, the Badgers had a sophomore running back by the name of Alan Ameche, who led the Big Ten in rushing that year with 721 yards. No. 35 would later go on to win the Heisman Trophy in 1954.

Alan Ameche

Alan Ameche of the Wisconsin Badgers with the Heisman Trophy.

As a whole, the Badgers offense was very good. The Badgers led the Big Ten conference in total offense (415.5 yards per game), rushing offense (256.3 yards per game) and scoring offense (26.3 points per game).

In the actual Rose Bowl, with 101,500 fans in attendance, the Badgers had 353 total yards, including 133 rushing yards by Ameche.

The Badgers were dominant on the ground during the game, as Wisconsin had 211 yards rushing compared to just 48 for USC.

But the Badgers were never able to score versus the Trojans, as they were shut out 7-0. The Badgers had two terrific opportunities to score, but a turnover ended one drive inside the red zone, while another was stopped on fake field goal attempt at the two-yard line of the Trojans.

Rose Bowl MVP Rudy Bukich of USC threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to future Green Bay Packer Al Carmichael for the winning score in the third quarter.

In the 1960 Rose Bowl, the 7-2 Badgers faced the 9-1 Washington Huskies. The Badgers were coached by Milt Bruhn, while the Huskies were coached by Jim Owens.

Going into the game, the Badgers were ranked No. 6 in both the AP poll and the Coaches poll, while the Huskies were ranked No. 8 and No. 7 respectively.

The Badgers were led that season by quarterback Dale Hackbart, who ran more than he threw and was named All-Big Ten by UPI (United Press International). Hackbart rushed for 387 yards, which led the team, and also scored six touchdowns.

The leading rusher in the Big Ten in 1959 would be future Green Bay Packer Bob Jeter of Iowa, who rushed for 609 yards, while another future Packer, Herb Adderley of Michigan State, finished fourth in the conference in rushing, as he toted the rock for 419 yards.

Both Jeter and Adderley would become excellent cornerbacks in the NFL, with Adderley being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Hackbart was joined on the All-Big Ten team by guard Jerry Stalcup (AP & UPI) and offensive tackle Dan Lanphear (AP & UPI).

The outcome of the game was never in doubt, as Washington had a 17-0 lead after the first quarter. The Huskies never looked back, as they crushed the Badgers 44-8.

Washington was led by quarterback Bob Schloredt and halfback George Fleming, as they were named co-Players of the Game.

Wisconsin scored it’s lone touchdown on a 4-yard run by halfback Tom Wiesner and that was followed up by a two-point conversion on a Hackbart pass to Allan Schoonover.

In the 1963 Rose Bowl game, the Badgers would face the Trojans again.

That epic contest between the Badgers and Trojans is one of the most famous bowl games ever played.

In the 1962 regular season, the Badgers were 8-1, which included being 6-1 in the Big Ten. Besides winning the Big Ten title that year, the Badgers also beat Notre Dame 17-8 that year at Camp Randall Stadium.

Like in the 1960 Rose Bowl, Wisconsin was coached by Milt Bruhn in this “Granddaddy of Them All” game. Bruhn had a rocky start and finish in his tenure as head coach of the Badgers, but overall his teams were a respectable 52-45-6, which included the two Rose Bowl appearances.

The Badgers had a prolific offense in 1962, which was led by quarterback Ron Vander Kelen and tight end Pat Richter.

Vander Kelen led the Big Ten in passing and total offense that season. Richter led the Big Ten in receiving yardage for the second straight season in 1962.

Going into the 1963 Rose Bowl, the Badgers were ranked No. 2 in the country, while the Trojans were ranked No. 1. There were 98,696 fans there to witness this classic contest.

USC got off to quick start led by quarterback Pete Beathard and the Trojans were up 21-7 at halftime. USC increased that lead by 42-14 early in the fourth quarter.

That’s when things got real interesting.

Pat Richter

Pat Richter running downfield after catching a pass in the 1963 Rose Bowl game.

Vander Kelen led a stirring comeback for the Badgers. Wisconsin scored 23 straight points to pull within 42-37, but time ran out for Bucky in a thrilling fourth quarter.

Vander Kelen completed 17-of-21 passes in just the fourth quarter alone. For the game, Vander Kelen ended up completing 33 of 48 throws for 401 yards, while Pat Richter finished with 11 receptions for 163 yards and a touchdown.

Vander Kelen was co-MVP for the game, along with Beathard.

It would be 31 long years before the Badgers returned to Pasadena to face the UCLA Bruins on their home field on January 1, 1994.

That trip to SoCal was due to the hiring of Barry Alvarez in 1990 as head coach by athletic director and star of the 1963 Rose Bowl, Pat Richter, as well as chancellor Donna Shalala.

It was not an easy process for Alvarez and his coaching staff to turn things around for the Badgers, as Wisconsin had not had a winning season since 1984 and was just 1-5 in bowl games overall in their history.

One of the coaches on the staff of Alvarez was Kevin Cosgrove, who initially was inside linebackers coach, but later became the defensive coordinator for nine years under Barry.

When I talked with Cosgrove, he mentioned the plan that Alvarez had getting the football program up to speed.

“As with everything Barry always did, he had a plan,” said Cosgrove. “When he got that job, he pretty much knew who he was going to hire. Barry put together a strong staff, and then the first couple of years he fined tuned it, and turned it into a great staff.”

But it still wasn’t easy. But the hard work by the coaches and players catapulted the Badgers to being co- champions (along with Ohio State) of the Big Ten and also the 1994 Rose Bowl.

“It was amazing just seeing where the program was when he took over. Attendance was down. Interest in the Badgers was nil,” Cosgrove said. “I think the Badgers averaged 30,000 fans a game the year before we got there. But we gradually pumped it up until it became sell out after sell out. But naturally that first Rose Bowl was something special. The thrill of getting there, when you consider all the things we had to do to build that program.”

Alvarez was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1993, while the team itself was led by running back Brent Moss, who was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Moss rushed for 1,637 yards and scored 16 touchdowns.

At the Rose Bowl, there were 101,237 in attendance and the stadium looked to be filled with 70 percent Wisconsin fans.

Moss rushed for 158 yards and scored two touchdowns, while quarterback Darrell Bevell shocked the crowd by scampering for a 21-yard touchdown run.

On defense, the Badgers allowed 500 total yards to the Bruins, but also forced a whopping six turnovers and that was the difference in the game, as the Badgers won 21-16 in their first ever victory in Pasadena.

Brent Moss

No. 33 Brent Moss of Wisconsin runs through a tackle in the 1994 Rose Bowl game.

Moss earned the Rose Bowl Most Valuable Player Award.

It took another five years before the Badgers returned to Pasadena and this time it was against the Bruins of UCLA again.

Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State were all co-champions of the Big Ten in 1998, but the Badgers were the team that went to the Rose Bowl because they had gone the longest period of time without an invitation to Pasadena.

Both the Badgers and the Bruins were 10-1 going into the game.

The Badger offense was led by running back Ron Dayne, who rushed for 1,525 yards and 15 touchdowns, while Cosgrove had assembled one of the best defenses in the country.

In the 1998 season, the Badgers were ranked fourth in the nation in total defense and first in scoring defense.

That defense would be going up against an explosive offense led by quarterback Cade McNown.

In the game, the defense of UCLA just could not stop the running game of the Badgers, as Dayne rushed for 246 yards and four touchdowns. The Bruins did have 538 total yards in the game, but the Badgers did force two key turnovers, including a 46 yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Jamar Fletcher.

The Badgers were leading 38-31 when the Bruins were trying to score the game-tying touchdown. But that all ended on a fourth down sack of McNown by defensive tackle Wendel Bryant.

Both Fletcher and Bryant were freshmen and both were recruited out of St. Louis by Cosgrove.

The bottom line, the Badgers had their second straight Rose Bowl win, with both victories coming against UCLA.

Dayne earned the Rose Bowl MVP Award.

Ron Dayne

No. 33 Ron Dayne of Wisconsin runs down the field in the 1999 Rose Bowl game.

The Badgers would be going to Pasadena the very next year as well, as they would face the Stanford Cardinal in the 2000 Rose Bowl game.

The 1999 Badgers started out 2-2 and it looked like the team had no chance to win the conference or to get to the Rose Bowl again. But behind the play of Dayne, who ended up winning the Heisman Trophy (and the Doak Walker Award) and also the steady performance of freshman quarterback Brooks Bollinger, the offense started clicking.

Dayne rushed for 2,034 yards and scored 20 touchdowns, while Bollinger threw eight touchdown passes versus just two interceptions. Bollinger also rushed for 454 yards and six touchdowns.

The big threat at receiver for the Badgers was Chris Chambers, who had 41 receptions for 578 yards and four scores.

Cosgrove put together another outstanding defense, as the D was ranked 15th in the country in total defense and fifth in scoring defense.

It led to the Badgers winning their second straight Big Ten title and this time outright.

In the 2000 Rose Bowl, the Badgers looked like they were sleep-walking early in the game and were trailing 9-3 at halftime. Alvarez, who had to watch the game in the press box due to a knee infection, something he had done for a number of weeks, hobbled down to the locker room and went on a tirade as he yelled at his team.

That fiery speech woke the Badgers up and Wisconsin outscored Stanford 14-0 in the second half and Bucky and the boys prevailed 17-9.

Dayne once again was fantastic, as he rushed for 200 yards on 34 carries and also scored a touchdown, which once again earned him the Rose Bowl MVP award.

Bollinger added a score with a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Ron Dayne II

No. 33 Ron Dayne of Wisconsin rushes for yardage in the 2000 Rose Bowl game.

When it was all said and done, the Badgers had won back-to-back Rose Bowls under Alvarez, as well as their third Rose Bowl win in seven years.

It would be over a decade before the Badgers returned to Pasadena.

In 2010, the Badgers under head coach Bret Bielema, were co-champions of the Big Ten along with Ohio State and Michigan State. The Badgers once again earned the trip to the Rose Bowl because they had gone the longest period without an invitation.

In the 2011 Rose Bowl, the 11-1 Badgers would be facing a team not in the Pac-10 conference for the first time, as the Oregon Ducks were going to be playing in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game. That meant that the next top-rated BCS team would play the Badgers in Pasadena.

That team turned out to be the 12-0 TCU Horned Frogs.

The Badgers had a number of players make All-Big Ten in 2010. On the first team there were guard John Moffitt, tackle Gabe Carimi and defensive end J.J. Watt. The second team had quarterback Scott Tolzien, running back John Clay and defensive back Aaron Henry.

Carimi was named Offensive Lineman of the Year in the Big Ten, while running back James White was named Freshman of the Year.

In the Rose Bowl game itself, the contest was very tight in terms of the score. The Badgers led 3-0 on a Phillip Welch 30-yard field goal. TCU came back to take the lead 7-3 on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to Bart Johnson.

The Badgers re-took the lead 10-7 on a one-yard touchdown run by Clay. But that was the last time Wisconsin had the lead. Dalton scored on a 4-yard touchdown scamper, while Welch kicked another field goal for the Badgers and TCU led 14-13 at halftime.

TCU went up 21-13 in the third quarter and Wisconsin finally was able to score with 2:00 left in the game on a Montee Ball 4-yard touchdown run which made the score 21-19.

Ball rushed for 132 yards in the game.

The Badgers went for a two-point conversion with an empty backfeld, which made no sense to me. Wisconsin had gashed TCU on this drive due to their running game and you at least want to show the threat of a running play on the conversion.

Clay had rushed for 59 of his 76 rushing yards on this drive alone.

Montee Ball

No. 28 Montee Ball scores a touchdown in the 2011 Rose Bowl game.

But in the end, Scott Tolzien had his pass broken up in the end zone on the two-point try, as TCU hung on and won 21-19.

Bielema and his 10-2 Badgers made it back to the Rose Bowl again in 2012 after beating Michigan State in the first ever Big Ten Championship Game, 42-39.

The Badgers were led on offense all season long by quarterback Russell Wilson, who had off the chart stats. Wilson threw 33 touchdown passes compared to just four picks for 3,175 yards.

No. 16 also ran for 338 yards and six scores, plus caught a touchdown pass from Ball.

Ball put up Heisman-type numbers, as he rushed for 1,923 yards and 33 touchdowns, plus caught 24 passes for 306 yards and six more scores.

Wilson was named the Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year in the Big Ten, while Ball was named the Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year in the Big Ten.

The Badgers had a number of other players receive honors in 2011, which included Wilson, Ball, guard Kevin Zeitler, tackle Josh Oglesby, linebacker Chris Borland and defensive back Aaron Henry being named to the Coaches first team.

All of those players except Henry were on the Media first team

Linebacker Mike Taylor and defensive back Antonio Fenelus joined them on that first team.

Ball finished fourth in the Heisman voting, while Wilson finished ninth.

In the Rose Bowl, the Badgers would be facing the 10-2 Oregon Ducks, who were one of the highest scoring teams in the nation under Chip Kelly.

The game was like watching the Indianapolis 500, as the action was fast. Wisconsin had 508 total yards, while Oregon had a whopping 621 total yards.

The Badgers scored first on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to wide receiver Jared Abbrederis. Oregon quickly the game at 7-7 on a LaMichael James one-yard run.

Wisconsin re-took the lead on a 4-yard run by Wilson, but Oregon quickly tied it up again at 14 apiece when De’Anthony Thomas scored on a 91-yard run.

Ball put the Badgers up 21-14 on a 3-yard run, but the game was quickly tied again at 21-21 on a 54-yard touchdown pass from Darron Thomas to Kenjon Barner.

Wisconsin went up again 28-21 on a Louis Nzegwu 33-yardd fumble return, but once again Oregon tied the game again on a 3-yard pass from (Darron) Thomas to Lavasier Tuinei.

The score at halftime remained 28-28.

Oregon scored early in the third quarter to go up 35-28 on a (De’Anthony) Thomas 64-yard touchdown run. Phillip Welch got the Badgers to within four points at 35-31 when he hit a 29-yard field goal.

Wisconsin then took a 38-35 lead on a 18-yard touchdown pass by Wilson to wide receiver Nick Toon.

Wisconsin was driving to add to their lead when Wilson threw a costly pick which turned the momentum back to Oregon. The Ducks scored the last 10 points of the game to win 45-38.

Russell Wilson Rose Bowl

No. 16 Russell Wilson of Wisconsin about to throw a pass in the 2012 Rose Bowl game.

Wilson threw for 296 yards and two touchdowns, but also tossed that unlikely interception based on the way he performed all year.

Ball ran for 164 yards and a touchdown in the game. Abbrederis (4-119-1) and Toon (9-104-1) both had big games.

But Oregon was just unstoppable in the game, led by James and (De’Anthony) Thomas, who rushed for a combined 314 yards and three touchdowns.

The 8-5 Badgers went to their third straight Rose Bowl game in 2013, as they defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 70-31 in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Wisconsin was in that game even though they finished third in the Leader Division. That was because both Ohio State and Penn State were ineligible due to NCAA sanctions.

However, after the Big Ten title game, Bielema shocked Badger Nation by accepting the head coaching job at Arkansas prior to the Rose Bowl.

That meant that the now athletic director Alvarez would be be interim coach for the game against the 11-2 Stanford Cardinal, coached by David Shaw.

The Badgers were led offensively by Ball, who rushed for 1,830 yards and 22 touchdowns. No. 28 was also All-Big Ten, All-American and also won the Doak Walker Award as the best running back in the country.

The Badgers had a great multi-talented ground game, because besides Ball, Wisconsin also had James White (806 yards and 12 touchdowns) and Melvin Gordon (621 yards and three touchdowns).

The quarterback situation was a different story. The season started with Danny O’Brien (a transfer from Maryland) behind center, but that didn’t work out. Joel Stave took over and had the Badgers playing much better in the passing game, but he broke a collarbone.

Curt Phillips then took over at quarterback and it was he who started behind center in the 2013 Rose Bowl.

Defensively, the Badgers were led once again by linebackers Chris Borland and Mike Taylor.

In terms of being named All-Big Ten by the Coaches, Ball was joined by wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, tackle Rick Wagner, tight end Jacob Pedersen and Borland at linebacker.

The Media first team had Ball, Abbrederis, center Travis Frederick, Wagner and Mike Taylor at linebacker.

In the actual 2013 Rose Bowl, Stanford had an early 14-0 lead after the first quarter. But the Badgers pulled to within 17-14 at halftime on a Ball 11-yard touchdown run and also a 4-yard pass from Phillips to Jordan Fredrick.

But those were the last points of the game for the Badgers as they lost 20-14.

The Badgers ran for 218 yards in the game, including 100 by Ball, but could not get much of a passing game going, as Phillips only threw for 83 yards.

That loss, the third setback in a row for the Badgers, put Wisconsin’s Rose Bowl record at 3-6 going into the 2020 Rose Bowl game against Oregon.

Overall, the Badgers are now 16-14 in bowl games, while current head coach Paul Chryst is a perfect 4-0 in bowl games, which includes wins in both the Cotton Bowl and the Orange Bowl.

Chryst is also now 4-1 versus the Minnesota Golden Gophers, including a big 38-17 victory this season, which basically set the table for the Badgers going to the Rose Bowl.

Jonathan Taylor 2020 Rose Bowl Jersey

Jonathan Taylor of the Wisconsin Badger before the 2020 Rose Bowl game.

And like they have in previous Rose Bowl games (with Dayne and Ball), the Badgers will have a Doak Walker Award winner on the field with Jonathan Taylor running the football. Taylor has actually won that award now two years in a row.

Taylor has rushed for 6,080 yards in his three-year career at Wisconsin and has scored 50 touchdowns. No. 23 has also caught 40 passes for 364 yards and three more scores.

Anyway, we will soon find out how the 10-3 Badgers do against the 11-2 Ducks (led by quarterback Justin Herbert), but it should be a dandy.

If the game anything like the high-scoring 2012 Rose Bowl between these two teams, look out!

Somehow I don’t believe that will be the case, as the Badgers are ranked No. 8 in total defense, while the Ducks are ranked No. 23 in total defense.

No matter, it’s always fun to watch “The Granddady of Them All” on New Year’s Day.

This will be the 10th time for Badger Nation.

2 thoughts on “Wisconsin Badgers: Their History Playing in the Rose Bowl

  1. Pingback: All-Time Rushing Leaders in Wisconsin Badgers Football History | Bob Fox

  2. Pingback: Green Bay Packers: Why Drafting Jonathan Taylor with Pick No. 30 is a Possibility | Bob Fox

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