Scott Nelson has told the story often enough that, 17 years later, it sounds like he's reading a script.

He's about to do it again.

Of all those people connected to the University of Wisconsin football program, it's hard to imagine anyone spinning a better Rose Bowl tale than Nelson.

Moments after helping the Badgers win the biggest game in school history — a 21-16 victory over UCLA on New Year's Day in 1994 — the Sun Prairie resident made some of his own history by proposing marriage to his girlfriend, kneeling at the 40-yard line.

"She said yes," Nelson said of his wife, the former Becky Kliefoth, "and the rest from there is history."

Scott, the human resources manager for Hallman Lindsay Paints, and Becky live in Sun Prairie and have two children: son Cooper, 9, and daughter Landry, 8.

Nelson, 39, recounts the details leading up to that day like it happened last week.

How he used a diamond from his late grandmother's wedding ring to create his own and went into his senior season with a creative framework for popping the question.

How he let John Chadima, a good friend who was the administrative assistant to UW coach Barry Alvarez at the time, talk him into proposing in the midst of a bowl trip.

How the three-year starter at free safety brought the ring from Madison, then handed it to Father Mike Burke, a Catholic priest who was on the trip, for safekeeping.

"Once I gave the ring to him, I did not think about that at all the rest of the time because there was obviously so much going on and I was so focused on the game," Nelson said.

The postgame memories are just as clear, just as touching, just as romantic.

How a member of the UW security detail went into the stands, found Becky and brought her to the field.

How Becky assumed she was being summoned because Scott suffered a knee injury earlier in the game and needed her assistance.

How Scott turned away from several reporters on the field during the frenzied postgame celebration and felt his heart beat "a million times a minute" when he saw Becky.

"I walk up to her and give her a big hug and kiss," Nelson said. "As I'm doing that, Father Mike walks behind me and hands me the box with the ring in it."

That's when reality set in. One big moment was flowing into another.

Scott: "I've got something I need to ask you if that's OK."

Becky: "What is it?"

Scott dropped to one knee, opened the box and saw her jaw plummet.

"I'd be honored if you'd be my wife," he said.

Almost 17 years later, you can still hear the glee in Scott Nelson's voice. His experience is relevant because the Badgers are again headed for the Rose Bowl, where they'll hook up with TCU on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif.

The Nelsons will watch the game in the comfort of their home, no doubt smiling at the unique memories they have of that special setting.

"Our own intimate moment at the 40-yard line," Scott said.

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