Stanford's Run For The Roses

DB Usua Amanam after his late-game interception

It's a great time to be a Stanford fan. Though I've been blessed to grow up in an era of Cardinal success, all longtime supporters of Stanford have experienced firsthand the darker, pre-Jim Harbaugh days. However, despite our recent advances under Harbaugh and now David Shaw, the Grandaddy of Them All had proven elusive.

After a 13-year hiatus from the Rose Bowl and without a Rose Bowl victory since 1972, and given Oregon's recent Pac-10/12 Championship three-peat, it seemed somewhat farfetched for Stanford to get a chance to smell the roses. Until now.

In Pasadena, the Cardinal started off with a bang, and Coach Shaw showed some uncharacteristic trickery on the first drive. A wildcat-reverse-pass by Drew Terrell set up a 16-yard Kelsey Young jet sweep touchdown run. I certainly give the coaching staff full credit for scripting some brilliant plays and putting us on the scoreboard early, but Terrell's 34-yard spiral and Patterson's acrobatic catch wowed me more than anything else. Looks like Drew could have beaten out Nunes for the starting quarterback spot! On our next possession, a 43-yard Hogan-to-Ertz bomb (both Hogan and Ertz's best play of the game) allowed Stephan Taylor to run it in from the three.

However, Montee Ball and the Wisconsin Badgers efficiently marched down the field and found themselves at the one-yard line eight minutes later. Then, on fourth down, the Stanford defense rallied back, just as they did against Oregon, to come up with a huge goal-line stop.

Despite this, Wisconsin showed that they came to play, as they scored after a stop deep in our own territory. The Cardinal responded, and Jordan Williamson (who has come up big as of late with clutch field goals against Oregon and in the Pac-12 Championship) punched in a 47-yarder. But near the end of the half, Wisconsin and their "jump around" fanbase gained the momentum with a touchdown pass that cut our lead to 17-14.

The third quarter was a battle for field position, and both punters saw a lot of action, with seven punts between the two of them in the third quarter alone. Meanwhile, with only three third-quarter first downs to mark, the chain-moving crew rested. Finally, in the fourth quarter Stanford put together the first real drive of the half, chewing up six-and-a-half minutes en route to another Williamson field goal. Wisconsin, though, with a chance to orchestrate a game-winning drive, looked poised to give interim coach and Rose Bowl legend Barry Alvarez one last win in Pasadena. But it was not to be.

With two minutes left, Usua Amanam crushed the Badgers' Rose Bowl hopes with a timely interception. Following in the footsteps of Richard Sherman, another offense-to-defense convert, Usua came full circle in his transition from running back to defensive back. Three plays later, Stepfan Taylor's five-yard rush for a first down sealed the deal. After leading Stanford to a hard-earned 12-win season, David Shaw could finally sit back, relax, and smell the roses.

About the Author: Justin Muchnick is a ninth grade student-athlete at Philips Academy Andover in Massachusetts. In addition to being an avid Stanford sports fan, he is extremely passionate about soccer, wrestling, reading and history. He still remains our youngest Bootleg journalist and has recently co-authored his first book, which just came out in stores, "Straight-A Study Skills." Check it out! (He even references The Bootleg in his bio on the back cover of the book.)


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