The Stanford Cardinal are preparing for their first Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio since 2000 against the Wisconsin Badgers, the champions of the Big Ten. Stanford won the Pac 12 Championship game thanks to an elite defense, which they will count on to slow down the rushing attack of Wisconsin. However, they will have to do it without starting defensive tackle Terrence Stephens, who has been suspended by the team.
According to the school, Stephens is being suspended for a secondary violation of NCAA rules regarding his rental of off-campus housing. The big defensive lineman missed the regular season finale and the Pac 12 Championship game against the UCLA Bruins for what the school had previously called an unspecified “personal problem.”
No. 99 is not a huge contributor on the stat sheet, recording just 10 tackles on the season with two sacks and a forced fumble, but he’s a huge part of the defense. The 6-foot-2, 305-pound Stephens acts as the anchor of the defensive line and routinely consumes blockers in double and triple teams to free up his defensive teammates to make plays.
He has helped the Cardinal boast the No. 3 rushing defense in the country this season, allowing just 87.69 yards per game. They will be tested against the Badgers and touchdown-king Montee Ball, who bring the No. 12 rushing attack to Pasadena averaging 237.77 yards per game on the ground.
In for Stephens will be David Parry, who filled in at defensive tackle for the last two games that Stephens missed. In the first game against UCLA in the regular season finale, Parry had five solo tackles, a sack and knocked down a pass. He followed that up with one tacking in the Pac 12 Championship.
As Stanford attempts to bring the Rose Bowl trophy to Palo Alto, they’ll be short-handed in their front seven without the space-eater Terrance Stephens. Will they be able to overcome his absence or will Wisconsin roll on to victory and finally bring the Rose Bowl title to Madison on their third try?