Rose Bowl notes: Abbrederis' monster day tarnished by late fumble

2012-01-03T06:35:00Z 2012-01-04T05:41:44Z Rose Bowl notes: Abbrederis' monster day tarnished by late fumbleADAM MERTZ | Wisconsin State Journal | | 608-252-6474 | Twitter: @Adam_Mertz

PASADENA, Calif. — Statistically, it was not just the best game of Jared Abbrederis' career, but among the best in University of Wisconsin football history.

But of course, that's not what the sophomore receiver and return specialist will remember about Monday's Rose Bowl.

With the Badgers driving toward a potential game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter against Oregon, Abbrederis hauled in a 29-yard catch down the left sidelines.

But instead of letting momentum take him out of bounds, he made a slight turn upfield and ran into Ducks cornerback Terrence Mitchell, who popped the ball free and then grabbed Abbrederis' arm and pinned him down to keep him from recovering it.

The ball sat less than 2 feet from the boundary for what seemed like an eternity before Oregon linebacker Michael Clay dove on top of it and secured the ball, giving the Ducks possession at their own 27-yard line with 4 minutes, 6 seconds left and allowing them to control the clock for all but the final 16 seconds of their 45-38 victory over the Badgers.

"I was fighting for more yards, and they made a good play on it," Abbrederis said. "I've just got to maintain possession of the football. That's our No. 1 job on offense."

In all other aspects, Abbrederis had a substantial and positive impact for the Badgers. His 346 all-purpose yards were the most ever by a Wisconsin player in a bowl game and just one short of the school record set by Ron Dayne against Hawaii in 1996.

In addition to amassing a UW bowl-record 201 yards on kickoff returns in the shootout — including a career-best 60-yarder in the third quarter after Oregon had taken its first lead — Abbrederis caught four passes for a team-high 119 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown reception on the opening drive of the game.

"Everybody's going to have a time when they don't do something right," Badgers left guard Travis Frederick said. "That might have been his one mistake for the game. I know I had more than one mistake. So it's hard to put any pressure on somebody else when you know that you weren't perfect."

Abbrederis said he received a lot of encouragement when he returned to the sidelines after the fumble.

"All my players, we're a band of brothers in here," he said. "You come to the sideline and it's, 'We've got you; come on, let's go. We'll get another opportunity; let's just go out there.' And that's just how our team has been all year. We're a tight group of guys and I'm going to miss them all. I love them all."

Nzegwu finds end zone

With a big assist from Mike Taylor, Badgers senior defensive end Louis Nzegwu scored his first touchdown since his days as a running back at Platteville High School.

Late in the second quarter, Taylor came through clean on a blitz and hit the arm of Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas just as he was about to deliver a throw. The ball popped free and took a perfect bounce into the arms of Nzegwu, who ran 33 yards for a touchdown.

"If I knew that was going to be my first touchdown since my days as a running back at Platteville, what better stage to do it?" Nzegwu said. "But I'll trade that any day for a win."

The Badgers' defense forced two turnovers in the game, including Aaron Henry's fourth-quarter interception deep in Wisconsin territory, giving them 25 in their last 11 games — a far cry from the one turnover they gathered in their first three games of the year.

Points galore

Not unexpectedly, the teams set the Rose Bowl record for most points in a game (83), eclipsing the mark of 80 set in 1991 when Iowa lost to Washington 46-34 — a game in which Badgers coach Bret Bielema played as a defensive lineman for the Hawkeyes.

The teams also set Rose Bowl records for most points in the first quarter (28) and in any half (56), in this case the first.

Notably, the Badgers had been a part of both those standards. They trailed TCU 14-10 after the first quarter in 2011 (24) and were leading UCLA 24-21 at halftime of the 1999 game (55).

The teams fell one yard short of the mark for total offensive yards, amassing 1,129 yards. Texas and USC combined for 1,130 yards in the Rose Bowl in 2006, when it served as the national title game.

One individual Rose Bowl mark was set: The 91-yard touchdown run by Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas broke the mark held by Michigan's Tyrone Wheatley, who scored on an 88-yard dash against Washington in 1988.

More records

UW players set two NCAA single-season marks as well. Montee Ball matched Barry Sanders' touchdown record with one score for 39 on the season, while quarterback Russell Wilson claimed the passing efficiency mark at 191.78, edging the record of 186.0 set by Hawaii's Colt Brennan in 2006.

Wilson extended his NCAA mark for consecutive games with a touchdown pass to 39. With 296 passing yards, he extended his single-season school record to 3,175, and he tossed two touchdowns to extend his passing touchdowns mark to 33 — second-best in Big Ten history to the 39 by Purdue's Drew Brees in 1998.

Poor timing

The Oregon crowd wasn't pleased with the timing of Badgers' fans attempt to start the wave in the third quarter, at the same time Ducks left guard Carson York was being tended to during an expansive injury break. York sustained a broken right leg.

Wisconsin's Aaron Henry, Montee Ball and Nick Toon all approached him before he was wheeled off the field on a stretcher. York was sitting upright as he was taken to the tunnel, and held his helmet aloft to salute the Oregon fans who gave him a loud standing ovation.

Konz mum on plans

Badgers junior center Peter Konz, who started in the Rose Bowl after missing about six weeks of practice time and three games following a dislocated left ankle, was mum about his interest in entering the NFL draft a year early.

Konz has filed paperwork with the NFL asking for an evaluation of his draft prospects. He is regarded as a possible first-round pick, although the injury may set back his stock.

"I'm not really thinking about that right now. I'd hate to be that selfish," he said. "I'm just thinking that I'll probably never play with these guys again. That's been a big part of my life these last four years. They mean a lot to me. that's why it's so emotional right now."

Extra points

Former UW All-American running back Ron Dayne, a two-time MVP in Pasadena who was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame on Saturday, was introduced on the field prior to the start of the second quarter, to a loud ovation. ... The Badgers won the opening coin toss and elected to receive, consistent with Bielema's approach to put the ball in the hands of his high-powered offense. ... The temperature at kickoff was 82 degrees, the sixth-warmest in history. ... A B-2 stealth bomber did a flyover during the closing line of the National Anthem, which was performed by Oregon's band.

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