Sometimes, quarterbacks are just decorative attachments to games. Kevin Hogan only needed to keep his turnovers at 0. The rest was up to the Stanford defense and running attack, led by Stepfan Taylor, on their way to winning the Rose Bowl for the first time in 40 years.
Wisconsin? A similar team to Stanford, just with an inferior quarterback and an inferior defense. When two teams play the same kind of smash-mouth football, it’s pretty clear that the team with the talent edge and the ability to do a little bit of change up is going to come out on top.
It wasn’t easy stopping Montee Ball and the Wisconsin rushing attack. Ball ran for 100 yards, scoring a touchdown. Wisconsin gained 218 yards on the ground. But the difference was when. The Badgers had a huge second quarter, scoring two touchdowns to make it 14-17 at the half. Stanford allowed a season-high 119 rush yards inside of the tackles in the first half against Wisconsin, including 76 yards by Montee Ball.
The second half was a different story, as the hits got bigger, and Stanford’s defense got a lot tighter. Wisconsin averaged 1.4 yards per rush inside the tackles and Montee Ball had a season-low eight yards on those runs. Ball was averaging 47.9 yards per game and 5 yards per rush inside of the tackles in the second half.
On the other end, Stepfan Taylor rose to the occasion in the second half. He finished with 88 yards on 20 carries, but gained 50 of them after contact, as the Wisconsin defense just couldn’t get him down without two or three tacklers during the second half. He was even better in the fourth quarter, gaining 32 of his 39 yards on Stanford’s two drives in the fourth quarter.
Kevin Hogan ends his first season undefeated as a starter. He didn’t do anything too impressive, finishing with 12-19 and 123 yards. But unlike Wisconsin’s Curt Phillips, he didn’t turn the ball over. In a game this tight, as predicted, one turnover here and there was going to be the deciding factor more likely than not.
This was a special year for Stanford, something not a lot of people saw coming. After two consecutive BCS bowls, people thought the departure of Andrew Luck was going to set this team back a step or two. Instead, they finished with 12 wins while winning the Pac-12 for the first time in its 12 team format and making the Rose Bowl for the first time in over a decade.
We’ve been in BCS games the past two years, but neither of those mean as much as this one did. 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 for a second time since the rising movement began under Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck. David Shaw achieved something both of them couldn’t.
We knew this was going to be a battle, and we wouldn’t expect it any other way. 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.