PASADENA, Calif. -- The new year brought old-style football to the Rose Bowl, the pound 'em, ground 'em game of an earlier era. And Stanford -- contrary to its image as a school that relies on passing -- grounded and pounded relentlessly and effectively.
The Cardinal -- living up to the promise of coach David Shaw, who insisted in a pregame media session: "We're going go run the ball. That's what we do" -- ran it well enough.
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Combined with a defense that stopped Wisconsin when that was required, Stanford defeated the frustrated Badgers, 20-14, Tuesday in the 99th Rose Bowl. Wisconsin became the first team to lose the game three consecutive years since California (1949-51).
"For us, it's not the why," Shaw said. "It's about us being us.
"I tell these guys a lot about a conversation I had with Joe Montana, and we talked about the Super Bowl wins and how Bill Walsh would go back to day-one installation," said Shaw, who played for Walsh at Stanford. "We say what we're going to do is go back to what we do."
Not that they didn't mix in a trick play early, a halfback pass and a couple of other passes, taking a 14-0 lead on touchdown runs by Kelsey Young (16 yards) and Stepfan Taylor (3 yards) in the opening 8:25.
Stanford (12-2) had 344 yards of total offense, 187 rushing. Wisconsin (8-6) gained 218 yards rushing and only 83 in the air.
Wisconsin got the ball at its own 25 with 4:23 left in the game. The Badgers moved to the Stanford 49, a bit of drama for the 93,359 spectators. But then Stanford's Usua Amanam intercepted Curt Phillips' pass at the 42-yard line.
"Every season stands on its own merit," Alvarez said when asked about the school dropping three Rose Bowls in consecutive years. "We played three very good football teams." In order, Texas, Oregon and Stanford, which in November held previously unbeaten and high-scoring Oregon to two touchdowns.
"Most people like to get here once," Alvarez said. "But we didn't get it done."
Asked why Stanford was able to slow Wisconsin's potent running game -- although Montee Ball did get 100 yards -- Alvarez said: "[Stanford] was doing some different things on the perimeter. They were doing stunts we had trouble with."
Now with Kevin Hogan, who replaced Josh Nunes earlier in the season, Stanford succeeded.
"Andrew Luck got and deserved a lot of credit," Shaw said. "But the thing we knew is that we had a good team."
We kept talking about him. Nobody was talking about our running game. Nobody was talking about our offensive line. Nobody was talking about our front seven.
"Our guys knew if we played smart and played hard, we'd give ourselves a chance to be right here."