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This play is a keeper _ but not for Dayne

After the game, Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez praised beleaguered quarterback Mike Samuel for his efforts this season and throughout his career, touting his unselfish play.

But the one time Samuel was selfish may have cost Ron Dayne a Rose Bowl record.

With less than two minutes remaining, Wisconsin faced third and 3. Dayne needed 1 yard to tie Charles White's record of 247 yards rushing in a Rose Bowl. On the option, Samuel kept the ball, was stopped for no gain and the Badgers punted.

Alvarez said after the game he didn't know how many yards Dayne needed, but when told, he quipped: "Mike was supposed to pitch the ball."

PART CHAMPS?: Does Wisconsin have a legitimate claim to part of the national championship if FSU beats Tennessee on Monday night?

Bob Toledo thinks so. Kind of. The UCLA coach has said all week that the winner of the Rose Bowl could _ and if UCLA had won would _ rightfully claim its share of the championship because it would have only one loss, the same as FSU (if it beats Tennessee), Tennessee and Ohio State after the Buckeyes' Sugar Bowl victory.

His statement was tempered after the loss: "If they (the Badgers) are 11-1 and Tennessee loses, then yes, maybe Wisconsin could share some of that," Toledo said.

Alvarez disagreed with Toledo all week, saying that the Fiesta Bowl is rightfully the national championship game. But after his team beat UCLA, Alvarez just smiled.

"I'm not disagreeing with Bob anymore," Alvarez said.

WIN RECORD: Both teams were trying to become the first in their school histories to win 11 games in a season.

BIG TEN BIG: The Big Ten's win was the conference's sixth in the past seven Rose Bowls. The blemish: USC's 41-32 win over Northwestern in 1996.

The Big Ten leads the series 27-26.

BIG NUMBERS: The teams combined for 1,035 yards, smashing the record of 931 set in 1995 (Oregon vs. Penn State) and 1980 (USC vs. Ohio State). UCLA's 538 yards broke USC's record of 519 set in that 1980 game.

OUCH: UCLA free safety Larry Atkins, a second-team All-American, left in the second quarter and did not return. Atkins sprained his right MCL.

ATTENDANCE: Due to a lack of interest, UCLA reportedly had to return 6,300 tickets, one-fifth of its allotment.

The crowd of 93,872 was the first sub-100,000 crowd since 1993 and the lowest since 1955 (93,000).

_ JOHN C. COTEY

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