Wisconsin and its fans can stop reminiscing about past Rose Bowl failures.
The ninth-ranked Badgers, behind junior tailback Brent Moss and capitalizing on six UCLA turnovers, defeated the 14th-ranked Bruins, 21-16, Saturday in the 80th Rose Bowl game.
It was the Badgers’ first Rose Bowl victory in four attempts and their first appearance in the game since 1963.
Moss, the nation’s third-leading rusher, carried 36 times for 158 yards and two touchdowns. He scored on runs of three yards and one yard in the first half and was voted the game’s most valuable player.
After a 31-year absence from the Rose Bowl, Wisconsin was hungry for a New Year’s Day victory and came to party in Pasadena. A crowd of 101,237 fans, most dressed in Wisconsin colors of red and white, saw the Badgers improve to 10-1-1 and set a school-record for most wins in a season.
UCLA (8-4) suffered its first loss after three Rose Bowl victories under Coach Terry Donahue.
The loss also spoiled an impressive performance by Bruin receiver J.J. Stokes, who had 14 catches for 176 yards, both Rose Bowl records.
UCLA quarterback Wayne Cook, who missed three practices because of flu, completed 28 of 43 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown with one interception.
Cook tried to rally the Bruins on a final drive, completing four of five passes for 39 yards and rushing twice for 13 yards. But with 15 seconds to play, the Bruins out of timeouts and the ball on Wisconsin’s 15-yard line, he scrambled instead of throwing the ball away and time ran out.
The Bruins pulled to within five, 21-16, when Mike Nguyen caught a five-yard scoring pass from Cook with 3:38 left in the game.
Wisconsin took a 21-10 lead when sophomore quarterback Darrell Bevell scrambled away from two UCLA defenders and scored on a 21-yard run with 10:52 left in the game. Bevell completed 10 of 20 passes for 96 yards with an interception.
UCLA cut its deficit to 14-10 on Ricky Davis’ 12-yard scoring run with 14:08 left in the fourth quarter.
The Bruins led the nation in turnover margin, but they had five fumbles Saturday, a Rose Bowl record. Two Cook fumbles ended potential Bruin scoring drives in the third quarter.
The Bruins took the second-half kickoff and drove 72 yards to the Wisconsin eight. On first and eight, Cook fumbled while being tackled by Carlos Fowler and defensive tackle Mike Thompson recovered at Wisconsin’s 12.
Terrell Fletcher, Wisconsin’s other talented running back, carried 33 yards on the first play after the fumble. He had three more carries for 24 yards as the Badgers moved inside the UCLA 20. But Moss was tackled for a one-yard loss on fourth and one at the UCLA nine and a fight broke out.
Two players from each team were ejected. UCLA safeties Marvin Goodwin and Donovan Gallatin were thrown out, along with fullback Mark Montgomery and wide receiver Lee DeRamus from Wisconsin.
UCLA regained its composure and began a drive on its 10. The Bruins went 57 yards in 12 plays to the Badger 33. But on first down from the Wisconsin 33, Cook fumbled again and linebacker Pete Diatelevi recovered the fumble at the Wisconsin 37.
UCLA opened the scoring with a 27-yard field goal by All-American Bjorn Merten in the first quarter.
Moss scored his first of two first-half touchdown on a three-yard run to give Wisconsin a 7-3 lead with 11 seconds left in the first quarter. Moss carried five times for 28 yards during the 10-play, 78-yard drive.
Moss scored his second touchdown on a one-yard run to give the Badgers a 14-3 halftime lead. Moss rushed 23 times for 93 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
Wisconsin won a combined six games in three years before Barry Alvarez became coach in 1990.
After a 1-10 mark his first year, Alvarez guided the team to consecutive 5-6 seasons. In his fourth season, Alvarez led the Badgers to their first winning season since 1984 and a Big Ten championship.
Before Alvarez’s arrival, the Badgers had lost five of their previous six bowl games. In their other three Rose Bowl appearances, they lost twice to USC (in 1953 and 1963) and once to Washington (1960).
In the 1963 game, Wisconsin trailed, 42-14, but closed to within five points before time ran out in a 42-37 loss to the national champion Trojans. Wisconsin Athletic Director Pat Richter was a star end for the Badgers in that game.
Wisconsin’s only previous postseason victory came in the 1982 Independence Bowl, when the Badgers beat Kansas State, 14-3.
This was the Bruins’ 12th bowl appearance and fourth in the Rose Bowl during Terry Donahue’s 18 years as UCLA coach.
It was the first meeting between the two schools in a bowl game. The teams have played eight times during the regular season with UCLA winning the last seven.
Although UCLA has used the Rose Bowl as its regular-season home field since 1982, the Bruins wore their white uniforms and used the visitors’ locker room.