LOS ANGELES Wisconsin offensive lineman Travis Frederick knew that the pressure to perform this week would rest squarely on his shoulders. Er, make that stomach.
Competition tends to bring out the best in Frederick anyway, and the fact that anyone from the University of Oregon might threaten to take his title only fueled his desire to one-up his achievement from a year ago.
No, we're not talking Rose Bowl. We're talking Beef Bowl.
Frederick, the Badgers' bulky sophomore and steak-eater extraordinaire, entered the annual Lawry's Beef Bowl eating competition as the defending champion. He left the restaurant Thursday night with a full stomach and a smile, defending his title much to the delight or horror of teammates.
Frederick ate eight 13-ounce cuts of prime rib steak more than 5 12 pounds of meat to walk away (or waddle away) as the champion of the annual Lawry's Beef Bowl, held at Lawry's Restaurant in Beverly Hills between players on both Rose Bowl teams.
"It was a little bit of pressure. I couldn't just go in there and eat one steak," Frederick said. "Everyone would have thought I was a Sally or something."
Frederick, a 6-foot-4, 330-pounder from Sharon, Wis., ate seven prime rib steaks last year.
"It's probably not the healthiest thing," Frederick said. "But my body is more suited to it than Jeff Duckworth."
Duckworth is a 6-foot, 215-pound wide receiver for the Badgers.
There was more good news for Wisconsin's football team on Thursday night. The Badgers blew away their competition by eating 723 pounds of prime rib as a team. Oregon, which participated in the event on Wednesday, ate just 612 pounds of prime rib.
The victory could bode well for Monday's Rose Bowl matchup. Seventy-one percent of the teams that win the Beef Bowl go on to win the Rose Bowl.
Last year, Wisconsin lost the Beef Bowl 670 pounds to 650 pounds against TCU. A few days later, the Badgers lost the Rose Bowl 21-19 to the Horned Frogs.
Oregon's trip on Wednesday to Lawry's will be most remembered for Ducks offensive lineman Mark Asper performing the Heimlich maneuver on a man choking on a piece of meat. Asper, a 6-foot-7, 325-pound senior, was an Eagle Scout.
Frederick admitted that his objective Thursday was to break the Lawry's Beef Bowl record for steaks consumed, although he wasn't sure of the actual record.
"I don't know about the whole world record," Frederick said. "Last year, I was told the record was eight. This year, I heard it was eight and then someone else told me it was nine. So I think they're just teasing me. I don't know."
Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland said he ate just one prime rib steak during the allotted time frame, and so did many of the Badgers players.
"Eating eight is one feat, but doing it in probably 45 minutes to an hour is another," Borland said. "I can't believe that."
Badgers cornerback Marcus Cromartie called the idea of eating eight cuts of prime rib unbelievable, too. Until anyone watches the way Frederick eats.
"When you see him, maybe it's a little more believable," Cromartie said. "He's a big guy."
According to Wisconsin offensive lineman Josh Oglesby, Dallas Lewallen finished second to Frederick, eating "six or seven" cuts of prime rib. Lewallen is a 6-6, 320-pound redshirt freshman.
"I didn't carry my weight at all," Oglesby said. "I only did one and a half. But then I was thinking like midway through, I was like, If I ate that many, I wouldn't be right for three or four days.' "
Should Wisconsin somehow manage a third straight Rose Bowl appearance next season, don't expect Frederick to defend his title again. He plans on going out on a high note.
"I think after this year I'm going to shut it down," Frederick said. "If we get another chance to come out here, I don't think I'm going to do eight again."
He might sing a different tune the next time a free prime rib dinner is dropped on a plate in front of him.
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