Pasadena, CA (WQOW) -- The 99th edition of the Rose Bowl kicks off Tuesday. Wisconsin is the first-ever five loss team to make the Rose Bowl.
Wisconsin has heard the criticism from the outside about being the worst Rose Bowl team ever. But neither Stanford head coach David Shaw, or Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez, is buying it.
"This is a group of young players that probably have persevered and are more resilient than any group I've ever been around. They've gone through an offensive line coaching change. They've lost three overtime games. They've lost two games where they've had a chance in the last possession to win, yet they came out the next week and played well. They lost their head coach. First time ever a coach has won the opportunity to come to a Rose Bowl and not coached in a Rose Bowl. Yet they come back to practice. They come back," says Alvarez. "If you deal with adversity in a positive way, you get stronger, and that's exactly what they've done. So, if you just look at our - how many losses we have, it's very misleading. I'm hoping Stanford's looking at that because we're a much better team, much better football team than a five loss team."
Adds Shaw: "The games Wisconsin lost, I mean, they were shoe string, shoe strings away from big plays. Everything came together in that Nebraska game. Nebraska's a good team, a good defense, and they were aptly ranked at the time, and Wisconsin took it to them. You saw a great team game from those guys. If anything else, it got our attention. There is no question about it. You watch the film, and this is a really good football team. A physical football team that knows what they're doing. For us, this is going to be a great challenge of two physical teams and we can't wait to get it going."
The Stanford head coach says the key to stopping Wisconsin is shutting down Montee Ball, something the Cardinal has spent extra time working on in practice.
"He's got great vision, great balance. He waits for the blocks and to happen and then he explodes. You never see him get in body position. He doesn't turn the ball over. He doesn't sacrifice the good play to try to make the big play. He makes the plays he's supposed to make and then makes more. So for me, he's just one of those complete running backs that we have a lot of respect for," says Shaw.
Playing the role of Montee Ball on the Stanford scout team has been freshman running back Barry Sanders, the son of the NFL hall of famer.
"They told me that Montee likes to spin, so I've tried to implement that into my runs, but other than that, it's been pretty normal out there, hit the holes, and try to find openings," says Sanders.
For Wisconsin's seniors, including Ball, Tuesday will be the final time they wear the Wisconsin jersey.
"I'm cherishing every single minute with my teammates. Every single minute. In the game room, I'm rooming with James and everything. This is the last time that I'll see everyone together. So I'm making sure that I'm soaking it all in and cherishing every single opportunity that I'm going to have with each player," says Ball.
WQOW-News 18's Bob Bradovich will have a live post game report from Pasadena following the Rose Bowl.
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