Notebook: Fellow finalists offer Ball tips

Montee Ball (USA Today Sports)

Rose Bowl notebook - Quarterback Joel Stave (broken collarbone) has been cleared to play, but will serve as Curt Phillips' backup.

LOS ANGELES – When it came time to get the scouting report on the Stanford run defense, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball went right to the source. He turned to fellow Doak Walker Award finalists Kenjon Barner of Oregon and Johnathan Franklin of UCLA during the presentation in Orlando.

"I've asked a few questions about how they play," Ball said. "They said they're a lot faster than people think and they'll shock you at times because they're great athletes."

Hopefully Ball took home more than the trophy from their time together, as the Cardinal was able to keep Barner under wraps. The nation's fifth-leading rusher was held to less than his season average, with 66 yards on 21 carries in the 17-14 overtime win by Stanford.

Franklin ran for 65 yards on 21 carries in the regular season finale, but fared better in the Pac-12 championship game with 194 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, one of only three running backs to top the century mark against the third-best run defense in the FBS.

Stanford allowed 87 yards rushing per game on just 2.84 yards per carry, one of six teams to surrender less than three yards per attempt.

That stands in stark contrast to the Wisconsin ground game, which averaged 237.8 yards per game and leads the nation in runs of 50-plus yards with nine.

Both sides praised the other's physicality, which will place a greater emphasis on tackling. Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason has tried to maintain some physicality in practice, but there are limits to try and avoid injury.

For Ball, he will look to exploit those restrictions early on.

"I just want to say the focus we've had leading up to this game was to start fast like we did in the championship game," Ball said. "We're going to bring that same intensity and level of focus to this game."

Fifth Year, Fifth Start
If Curt Phillips guides Wisconsin to its first Rose Bowl win in 13 years, it would make the redshirt senior perhaps the most unlikely winning starting quarterback in the game's 99-year history.

Phillips opened the season behind Maryland transfer Danny O'Brien and competing for backup duties. Now he will be making his fifth career start on one of the grandest stages in the game.

Whatever the result, Phillips is thrilled to see his dedication pay off and knows he will have a heck of a story to tell one day.

"Knowing that I put the work in, knowing if I did get a chance, I was prepared to make the most of it, I didn't want to look back," Phillips said.

Stave Available
Quarterback Joel Stave will be available to play and serve as the backup to Phillips, Canada said.

"Joel is cleared to play," Canada said. "There's a chance you'll see him out there at times."

Stave, a redshirt freshman from Greenfield (Wis.) Whitnall, broke his collarbone against Michigan State and missed the final four games of the regular season. He started six games and played in a seventh, completing 59.3 percent of his passes for 1,104 yards and six touchdowns against three interceptions.

Dan Greenspan writes about the Pac-12 for Fox Sports Next. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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