Clearly, this was not how Barry Alvarez envisioned it when he decided to return to the sidelines.
The overwhelming favorite Stanford Cardinal looked, at first, as if they would run away with the 99th Rose Bowl.
But the Wisconsin Badgers proved to be a more worthy adversary after all.
With Kevin Hogan running the high-octane offense, Stanford scored on its first two possessions and came away with a 20-14 nail-biter of a win.
It was the third straight loss in the Granddaddy of them all for UW in as many tries.
The Cardinal carved up the Wisconsin defense at first, giving credence to the criticism that this Big 10 opponent didn‘t deserve to be in the game.
But deserving they proved to be in the end.
The UW offense that shredded Nebraska to earn the spot in this New Year’s Day spotlight was nowhere to be seen in Pasadena on Tuesday afternoon.
Forget about yards being hard-earned.
The yards that the Badgers were used to racking up by the bushel were shrunk down to inches by a stingy Cardinal ‘D’ which includes one-time Wisconsin walk-on wannabe, Ben Gardner.
Gardner stuffed the run on a fourth and goal, snuffing out the first, best chance for Wisconsin to score.
Stanford won the toss and drove right down the field.
Kelsey Young ran the final 16 for the initial, rose-colored points.
After forcing the Badgers to the sidelines, Hogan ran it a bit and then connected for 43 yards with Zach Ertz.
Offensive Player of the Game Stepfan Taylor took it the final three yards for the score and it was 14-0 with 6:35 to go in the first quarter.
Wisconsin’s first score came well into the second after a sustained drive.
Jacob Pedersen had taken a pass from Curt Phillips and stretched across the plane for an apparent touchdown.
The ruling was overturned when it showed that his knee touched the ground just prior to that.
After a penalty, Badger back Montee Ball got things rolling with a 10-yard high-stepping burst with 9:05 to go in the half.
The defenses on both teams tightened.
Stanford blinked first and Phillips drew his team to within spitting distance when he found red-shirt freshman Jordan Frederick with 19 ticks left.
The Badgers were down 17-14 at that point.
The third quarter saw no scoring as field position became a chess match and the teams traded punts like Grandmasters swap pawns.
Jared Abrederis, Melvin Gordon and Phillips had to fill in the offensive cracks as the prolific scoring machine that is Ball was virtually neutralized.
Stanford added a field goal for a 20-14 lead with 4:23 to play.
A Phillips missive on the drive to win the game was tipped and ultimately intercepted, extinguishing the Badgers’ final hope.
Alvarez heads back to his AD chair and Gary Andersen takes over a team that is in good shape for the next Big 10 campaign.
Utah State’s Gary Andersen took the reins on December 20 and has been left a pretty full stable of players.
UW will lose Marcus Cromartie from the secondary and Ball and Phillips from the backfield, but there is more than enough left in the pantry.
The quarterback shelf has Joel Stave, Danny O’Brien and Chase Knox with eligibility to burn.
The bad taste in the collective mouths of Badger Nation left by the loss and the Bret Bielema departure will fade in time.
Everyone is looking forward to rocking Camp Randall again and will spend the winter months practicing “Jump Around” and readying for the next “5th Quarter.”