Pasadena, Calif. • Shayne Skov and Zach Ertz believe every game in Stanford's improbable football renaissance led the Cardinal to midfield at the Rose Bowl.
That's where Usua Amanam made the interception that stopped Wisconsin's final drive with 2:30 to play in a grind-it-out game. That's where Kevin Hogan grinned broadly as he took the final snap on Stanford's first Rose Bowl victory in 40 years.
And it's the spot where the once-struggling team from a school better known for brains than brawn raised the West Coast's most coveted trophy after a 20-14 victory over the Badgers on Tuesday.
"There's a sense of accomplishment, because we got somewhere we hadn't been yet," said Skov, who made eight tackles while leading Stanford's second-half shutout. "If you looked at our goals at the beginning of the season, this was on top of the list, and we got it done. We're extremely satisfied."
Stepfan Taylor rushed for 89 yards and an early touchdown, and Hogan passed for 123 yards, but Stanford (12-2) won the 99th Rose Bowl with a shutdown effort by its defense. Although Stanford didn't score many style points against the Badgers, the Cardinal could celebrate because they didn't let Wisconsin score any points at all after halftime, holding the Badgers to 82 yards.
After winning the Orange Bowl two years ago and losing the Fiesta Bowl in overtime last season, Stanford earned its first conference title and its first trip to the Granddaddy of Them All in 13 years.
"We've been in BCS games the past two years, but neither of those mean as much as this one did," said Ertz, the tight end who had three catches for 61 yards. "This is the one we play for every year. It shows Stanford is here to stay."
The Cardinal finished with 12 victories for just the second time in school history and the second time in the last three years during this surge begun by Andrew Luck and coach Jim Harbaugh. Many Pac-12 observers expected a sharp decline at Stanford this season, but coach David Shaw and Hogan achieved something even Harbaugh and Luck couldn't manage.
"We knew this was going to be a battle, and we wouldn't expect it any other way," Shaw said. "We know it's going to be tight, it's going to be close, and we're going to find a way to win. That's the way it's been all year."
Stanford clamped down on the Big Ten champion Badgers (8-6), who lost the Rose Bowl in heartbreaking fashion for the third consecutive season. Montee Ball rushed for 100 yards and his FBS-record 83rd touchdown, but Wisconsin managed only four first downs in that scoreless second half. With impressive defense of its own, Wisconsin still stayed in position for an upset in the one-game return of Hall of Fame coach Barry Alvarez, who was back on the Badgers' sideline in his red sweater-vest seven years after hanging up his whistle.
"This group of kids has been through a lot, and they competed extremely hard against a very high-quality team," said Alvarez, who nearly pulled off a stunner while bridging the gap between coaches Bret Bielema and Gary Andersen.
No. 8 Stanford 20, Wisconsin 14
Wisconsin 0 14 0 0 14
Stanford 14 3 0 3 20
Stan • Young 16 run (Williamson kick), 11:24.
Stan • Taylor 3 run (Williamson kick), 6:35.
Wis • M.Ball 11 run (Russell kick), 9:05.
Stan • FG Williamson 47, 6:19.
Wis • Fredrick 4 pass from Phillips (Russell kick), :19.
Stan • FG Williamson 22, 4:23.
Attendance • 93,359.
First downs 17 17
Rushes-yards 45-218 35-187
Passing 83 157
Comp-Att-Int 10-17-1 13-20-0
Return Yards 7 1
Punts-Avg. 7-44.6 6-45.5
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-40 6-48
Time of Possession 29:52 30:08
Rushing • Wisconsin, M.Ball 24-100, Phillips 5-64, Gordon 9-51, White 6-4, Doe 1-(minus 1). Stanford, Taylor 20-88, Hogan 7-54,
Wilkerson 5-31, Young 1-16, Hewitt 1-0, Team 1-(minus 2).
Passing • Wisconsin, Phillips 10-16-1-83, Stave 0-1-0-0. Stanford, Hogan 12-19-0-123, Terrell 1-1-0-34.
Receiving • Wisconsin, Abbrederis 3-44, White 2-5, Arneson 1-9, Pedersen 1-9, M.Ball 1-7, Doe 1-5, Fredrick 1-4. Stanford, Ertz 3-61,
Montgomery 3-26, Taylor 3-17, Terrell 2-20, Patterson 1-34, Wilkerson 1-(minus 1).