Former Badgers safety Scott Nelson reflects on his own Rose Bowl, 26 years ago

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PASADENA, CA (WMTV) -- Ahead of the Wisconsin Badgers’ big game against Oregon in the Rose Bowl, former Badgers safety Scott Nelson reflected on his own Rose Bowl 26 years ago.

Former Badgers safety Scott Nelson with his parents.

To be there playing was a shock enough, but a 21-16 win over UCLA would be just the beginning to a lifetime of memories.

That Rose Bowl win capped off a 10-and-1 season and sparked what is Wisconsin football is today.

“So we were hungry. We tired of being kicked around, so we were ready to go,” says Scott Nelson.

“We did something that's never been done before," Scott says. "Teams have been out to the Rose Bowl but we hadn't won, and we got over that hump. When you start thinking back about what that all was, at how special it was to us as players, and then to people that waited a lifetime to see this happen - to have it come true was pretty special.”

For the senior that witnessed just 11 wins through his previous three seasons, ending his Badger career with a Rose Bowl victory, was only the beginning.

A three-hour battle against the Bruins was behind him, but then Scott quickly had to shift his focus to his girlfriend Becky.

“After the game, you celebrate with your teammates, we're doing some interviews and I have about four or five around me finish up the interview and I see her [Becky] there. Holy cow I got to regroup again,” Scott says.

“She just came over, and I had been hurt earlier in the game, she thought it was along the lines of that I said no I’m fine, just gave her a hug. As I give her a hug, this good friend of mine walks by and hands me the ring.”

“You're excited, your tears from winning the game, and to be able to pop the question, drop down on a knee. We got a great picture of her with her mouth wide open, shocked. And thankfully she said yes,” Scott says.

The Rose Bowl has meant so much to the Nelsons and now a quarter century later, Scott and Becky look forward to be back: This time as parents of Badgers walk-on wide receiver Cooper Nelson. Adding the next chapter to the families story that spans from Madison, to Pasadena, CA.

As Monday was media day for the Badgers, NBC15 Sports got to talk with Cooper, on that same field where his dad proposed to his mom and ask him what it was like to be there, 25 years later.

It's kind of surreal for me, I didn't really realize how special place it is and can be and then when I got here pretty special place for our family. My dad's final game as a Badger, where my parents first started their future together and I get to play here as my first bowl game so that's pretty exciting," said Cooper.

The advice Scott had for Cooper has been the same since the redshirt freshman stepped on campus: just soak it all in, because there's nothing as good as running out of that Camp Randall tunnel, except maybe Pasadena.


Former Badgers safety Scott Nelson, far right.
Badger Cooper Nelson, Scott's son.