Wisconsin vs. Stanford: Postgame Grades for the Cardinal's 2013 Rose Bowl Win

Matt Smith@MattSmithCFBCorrespondent IIIJanuary 1, 2013

Wisconsin vs. Stanford: Postgame Grades for the Cardinal's 2013 Rose Bowl Win

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    41 years of disappointment have ended, as Stanford has won the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1972, defeating a feisty Wisconsin team, 20-14. The Cardinal defense was outstanding again, as it held the Badgers scoreless for the entire second half.

    Stanford finishes the year 12-2, and has now won 35 games in the past three season, tying Boise State for the most of any FBS team in that stretch.

    We've graded each unit on their performance in one of the biggest wins in the storied history of Stanford football. Let's take a look.

Quarterback: B-

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    The numbers weren't exactly pretty for Kevin Hogan, who completed just 12 passes for 123 yards, but the statistic that tells the story is that Hogan did not turn the ball over.

    Hogan struggled under heavy pressure for much of the day and misfired on most of his downfield throws, including missing Levine Toilolo for what would have been the game-clinching touchdown.

    It wasn't a sterling performance by any stretch. For a first-year quarterback, however, going 5-0 and defeating Oregon, Wisconsin and UCLA twice is still a remarkable accomplishment.

Running Backs: B

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    It was a hard-hitting game, so yards were hard to come by, but senior Stepfan Taylor came through when the team needed him most. Taylor picked up multiple key first downs in the fourth quarter to help seal the victory.

    Taylor finished with just 89 yards, but was helped by not only Hogan, but Anthony Wilkerson as well. Wilkerson had four carries for 30 yards, including a key run for a first down to set up a late field goal.

Wide Receivers: B-

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    While the Stanford wideouts combined for just six catches and 80 yards, but a few big plays helped the Cardinal take an early lead that they never relinquished.

    Drew Terrell through a beautiful pass on a reverse to Jamal-Rashad Patterson who made a leaping catch to set up Stanford's first touchdown.

    The unit as a whole struggled all day to get separation from the Wisconsin defensive backs, but Stanford has won all year without much of a downfield passing attack.

Tight Ends: B

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    Perhaps no team in the country utilizes their tight ends more than Stanford. However, Wisconsin limited the combination of Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo to just three catches, all by Ertz.

    Ertz did come up with a big43-yard catch that led to the team's second touchdown of the first quarter, and also picked up a late first down with his final reception.

    Wisconsin kept them in check as much as they could, but Ertz proved why he was named to most All-American first teams earlier this month.

Offensive Line: B

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    Much like Taylor, the offensive line's performance was defined by the first and fourth quarters.

    Wisconsin made some necessary adjustments after getting punched in the mouth early, but the physical unit stood tall in the final quarter to help Stanford hold on to a narrow lead.

    Guard Kevin Danser was penalized for an unnecessary block in the black in the fourth quarter, but Stanford was able to overcome it and continue its drive.

Defensive Line: A-

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    Montee Ball is one of the best running backs in the country, so allowing a 100-yard rusher is more acceptable today than against most other opponents.

    The Cardinal three-man front was still very disruptive and helped the defense pitch a shutout in the second half. David Perry stuffed Ball on third down in the fourth quarter to force a punt and Josh Mauro deflected two passes in the second half.

Linebackers: B+

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    It was a steady performance from one of the best linebacking corps in college football, as Shayne Skov, Chase Thomas and Trent Murphy kept Wisconsin's offense from finding any rhythm in the second half.

    The unit did not force any turnovers, but played a fundamentally sound game against a Wisconsin game plan that incorporated frequent motions and misdirections.

    The signature play was Skov making an open field tackle on a well-designed third down screen pass that could've gone for a long a gain had Skov not made the play.

Defensive Backs: A

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    The Stanford secondary has been the weakest link of the defense this season, but it was at its best on the grandest stage, holding Wisconsin to just 83 yards through the air.

    Usua Amanam's interception ended the Badgers' last chance to take the lead with two minutes remaining. Jordan Richards broke up a long pass in the third quarter with a hard, but legal hit to force a drop from Chase Hammond.

Special Teams: B+

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    Jordan Williamson's two field goals were the difference in the game, a bit of irony after Williamson missed two late field goals in last year's Fiesta Bowl loss to Oklahoma State.

    The return game was quiet, but kick coverage was sound throughout the game. The Cardinal dodged a major bullet when they roughed the punter but were only given a five-yard running into the kicker penalty, which was not enough for a Wisconsin first down.

Coaching: B

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    It looked early on as if the Cardinal had the perfect game plan to combat the Badgers' similar style of play, but the second quarter tsaw their offense falter and their defense get pushed around.

    Wisconsin had a large number of wrinkles offensively for a team that doesn't run many gadget plays, but Stanford defended them well. Derek Mason's defense has now held six of its past eight opponents to less than 20 points.

    David Shaw proved once again that he's not just the beneficiary of what Jiim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck had built in Palo Alto. Shaw is now 23-4 as a head coach, and the Cardinal program appears to still be on the rise, as long as an NFL team doesn't come along and pluck Shaw out of the Bay Area.