BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. They came. They ate. They conquered. Again.
For the second consecutive year, Wisconsin's football team devoured its opponent not literally, thankfully on Friday night at the Lawry's Beef Bowl, an annual tradition between the two teams competing in the Rose Bowl. Much like years past, the carnivore carnage was colossal.
According to official scorers, Wisconsin's bulky bunch belied up and ate 619 pounds of prime rib as a team to edge Stanford, which ate 602 pounds of meat. Unlike the odds for this year's Rose Bowl, Wisconsin entered the Beef Bowl at Lawry's Prime Rib Restaurant as a considerable favorite.
Last year, Wisconsin put away Oregon by eating 723 pounds of prime rib compared to the Ducks' 612 pounds. In 2010, TCU edged Wisconsin 670-650.
You can call Wisconsin the princes of prime rib or the masters of meat. But recent history suggests the Badgers' reign may not necessarily translate to a victory on the football field.
In the past two years, Wisconsin has lost 21-19 against TCU and 45-38 to Oregon in the Rose Bowl. For what it's worth, the mythical Beef Bowl champion has gone on to win the Rose Bowl 39 times in the past 56 years (.696 winning percentage).
Wisconsin interim coach Barry Alvarez, who has coached the Badgers in three other Rose Bowls (and Beef Bowls), noted he didn't put a limit on the amount of prime rib his players could eat.
"I didn't tell them anything," Alvarez said. "I was going to say something, but these guys are smart enough. Especially the starters. If we want somebody to eat a lot of beef to set a record, they've got to be a scout squad guy. Somebody that's not going to play in the game."
Unofficially, the always-eventful race for individual eating champion ended in a tie.
Stanford's athletic website reported that freshman offensive guard Joshua Garnett, a 6-foot-5, 325-pounder, ate seven of the 24-ounce cuts of prime rib during the Cardinal's turn Thursday night. No other Stanford players were believed to have eaten more than four cuts of meat.
"He wasn't even phased at the end," Cardinal tight end Zach Ertz told the team website. "He said he could have eaten at least three more pieces. He said it could have easily been 10, but he ran out of time."
Wisconsin's sports information department, meanwhile, reported that redshirt sophomore Dallas Lewallen, a 6-6, 309-pound offensive lineman, also ate seven prime rib cuts, usurping the crown from Badgers center Travis Frederick, the two-time defending individual eating champion.
Frederick, the Badgers' 6-4, 338-pound starting center, said he used his knowledge to help Lewallen "train" for the event.
"The training has to do with the eating regimen the week before," Frederick said. "He's always been a big eater. You've got to be careful the night before. You've got to stretch out your stomach. You've got to eat a lot. Last year I went to a restaurant and had a lot of wings and did what I could to stretch it out and took the day of fasting to get myself ready. I think he's followed that same plan."
Frederick, who consumed eight prime rib cuts last year and seven the year before, purposely dialed down his appetite on Friday and didn't chase the all-time record. That record is believed to be held by Michigan's Ed Muransky, who ate 10 prime rib cuts in 1978.
"This year the focus for me is really on the game," Frederick said before the event. "I think sometimes events like this can be a little bit distracting. I do love the food here. It's really delicious. I'll definitely eat my fill, but hopefully not eight this year."
Alvarez, for one, was grateful Frederick didn't try.
"I want to make sure that he can bend over the ball," Alvarez said. "We have a lot of big guys that I'm sure can put away a lot of beef. He doesn't have to try to impress anybody."
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