Stanford last appeared in the Rose Bowl in 2000, losing to Wisconsin, 17-9. It was Stanford coach David Shaw's first Rose Bowl victory and the teams first Rose Bowl victory since 1972.
Wisconsin Badgers' quarterback Curt Phillips threw an interception with two minutes left in the game, which spelled the end for the Badgers. It was the only turnover between both teams but it proved to be a costly one for Wisconsin.
Stanford leapt out to an early 14-0 lead after the first quarter and it seemed like the Cardinal were going to run away with the Rose Bowl. But Wisconsin's defense clamped down in the second quarter and cut the Cardinal lead to three as Stanford led 17-14 at half.
It was a real defensive battle as both teams struggled to get anything going in the second half. Stanford and Wisconsin each only mustered one first down in the third quarter, and just when it seemed that Stanford was going to roll towards a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Wisconsin forced the Cardinal to settle for a field goal.
Both teams rely heavily on the run and the running backs on each side had to fight hard for the yardage they got. Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor led Stanford with 75 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. The senior running back averaged nearly 111 rushing yards a game this year.
Badgers running back Montee Ball averaged 133 yards a game but the Cardinal defense shut him down, holding him to 100 yards.