Wisconsin, UCLA paint new day with fresh hue

January 01, 1994|By Art Thompson III | Art Thompson III,Orange County Register

PASADENA, Calif. -- UCLA and Wisconsin. Finally, a change of pace.

Local college football fans weren't the only ones who had grown tired of seeing the same teams play in the Rose Bowl in recent years.

Consider the plight of the Rose Bowl groundskeepers whose job it is to turn the field into the traditional colorful display that millions of television viewers see.

Yo, Mac, pass me those cans of blue and maize paint.

You mean the blue and gold?

Yeah. The Michigan stuff.

You want the purple paint, too?

Of course.

Between them, Michigan and Washington had played in the past five Rose Bowls. The teams played each other the past two years, which was a big reason both schools returned thousands of unused tickets last year and why the attendance of 94,236 at the 1993 Rose Bowl was the first time the granddaddy of all bowl games attracted less than 100,000 fans since 1964.

But more than 100,000 fans will squeeze into the stadium today and the field will be adorned in red and white, and blue and gold, colors not seen in this New Year's Day game in years.

Wisconsin has not been to Pasadena since the 1963 Rose Bowl. And even though UCLA has used the Rose Bowl as its regular-season home field since 1982, the Bruins have not played in the Rose Bowl since 1986.

According to local ticket brokers, the demand for tickets to this game is hotter than even 1986, when Iowa played UCLA.

The fact that ninth-ranked Wisconsin (9-1-1) and 13th-ranked UCLA (8-3) are the Rose Bowl participants is one of the best stories in college football this season.

Before winning nine games for the first time since 1901, Wisconsin had eight consecutive losing seasons going into 1993. But when coach Barry Alvarez was hired from Notre Dame in December 1989, he told recruits that if they came to Wisconsin they would have the opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl.

"Man, they'll tell you anything when they recruit you," said junior wide receiver Lee DeRamus, the Badgers' leading receiver with 54 catches for 920 yards and six touchdowns. "It so happened in my case, I believed [Alvarez]."

UCLA began the season 0-2 after being picked to finish fifth at the preseason Pac-10 luncheon.

But UCLA earned a co-conference championship with USC and beat the Trojans, 27-21, to earn the Rose Bowl bid. UCLA is a six-point favorite to extend coach Terry Donahue's bowl winning streak to nine games.

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