A Rich Tradition: Wisconsin’s Rose Bowl History

Author: Wade Flavion

PASADENA- There is no better color to be associated with the Rose Bowl than the Cardinal Red of Wisconsin Football. Their participation as the second-place Big Ten team has become something expected out of the consistent excellence of Wisconsin. 

Wisconsin played in the very first Rose Bowl in 1953 against the USC Trojans where a very talented Trojans team beat the Badgers 7-0. In their next Rose Bowl in 1960, the Badgers were blown out by the Washington Huskies. 

This losing trend continued until the Badgers, lead by Alvarez, beat UCLA to win their first Rose Bowl in 1994. In 1999, Wisconsin beat UCLA again 38-31, and thus started the tradition of Wisconsin excellence in this prestigious game. Lead by Ron Dayne Wisconsin won against Stanford 17-9 in 2000. 

After the era of Alvarez, the Rose Bowls of 2011, 2012, and 2013 were tough loses in a program that was dealing with high amounts of coaching turnover from Brett Bielema to Gary Anderson. Although there was a ton of talent on these teams with Melvin Gordon, Russell Wilson, JJ Watt, and Joe Schobert, there was a missing team element. They struggled because they didn’t play with Wisconsin’s character.  

Paul Chryst has brought back the Wisconsin attitude, of strength, power, and fundamentals. This alongside the return to power football has given this team an actual identity, more than with previous coaches. Wisconsin is back, and recruits can see it. The Badgers have the 8th best-recruiting class in the country in 2021. This level of talent has never been seen at Wisconsin and could lead the team to finally reach the upper echelon of College Football like Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Ohio State, and Oklahoma. Their development with this great talent will allow Wisconsin to get their first National Championship very soon. 

This year’s Rose Bowl will be the third meeting between Wisconsin and Oregon in the Rose Bowl, but these programs were very different in their last meetings. This game is one Wisconsin needs to win to reconcile the first two losses in this rivalry, and the win would propel either team into elite college football program status.