Old-School Badgers, Newfangled Ducks In Rose Bowl

The Rose Bowl is a living archive of football tradition. Every year, teams participate in the same oceanside pep rallies, Disneyland visits and Hollywood beef-eating extravaganzas before those flowered parade floats glide down Colorado Boulevard right before the game.

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All that history suits No. 9 Wisconsin perfectly. Coach Bret Bielema has built a Midwest powerhouse by largely adhering to traditional styles and schemes, determined to win Rose Bowls with unapologetically old-fashioned football.

Although No. 6 Oregon usually seems to be visiting our planet from the near future, the Ducks also love every bit of the history they see out of their mirrored helmets.

The last two losers of the Rose Bowl will return Monday for a chance at redemption in the 98th edition of the Granddaddy of Them All.

Wisconsin is making its eighth appearance in the Rose Bowl, but its Wisconsin’s 5th trip since 1994. Most of these current players grew up watching the Badgers in the Rose Bowl.

Players on this year’s team would like to keep that tradition alive.

“I remember growing up and that is what I am familiar with as a kid was the ’94 Rose Bowl,” said senior defensive tackle Patrick Butrym. “The 1999, 2000 Rose Bowl and now to be a part of this. Some kids watching in Wisconsin will grow up and play here and talk about our teams, and to leave a legacy like that will be very special.”

Wisconsin fell short last year, and they say the feeling walking off the field last year is not something they want to repeat. The senior class won back to back Big Ten titles for just the second time in school history. For a lot of Wisconsin guys on the roster, a Rose Bowl win would add to the legacy.

“Wisconsin is a crazy crazy state of football,” said senior defensive back Aaron Henry. “People love football down there and if we can bring home a Rose Bowl, it is going to be vital to our legacy.”

Oregon’s coach Chip Kelly said this week he thinks it’s funny when people talk about the legacy of 20 year olds, saying it too much pressure. They are just kids. But the Badger players seem like they are just fine with that pressure and they know what’s a stake.