No. 41 — Ron Vander Kelen, Football
If you think what Melvin Gordon did against Nebraska this past season will live on in infamy, let us share with you the most legendary game ever played by anyone in a Badgers football uniform. That game, more aptly, that final quarter, was the 1963 Rose Bowl Game between the No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers and the No. 1 USC Trojans.
Quarterbacking that team was the reigning Silver Football award winner (Big Ten MVP award at the time), Ron Vander Kelen. With the Badgers down 35-14 heading in to the final quarter, Vander Kelen lead his team to 23 fourth quarter points, but just came up short in a 42-37 loss to No. 1 USC.
That game would’ve been important to college football history thanks to the first-ever meeting between No. 1 and No. 2 in a bowl game, but the record-setting performance of Vander Kelen and the crazy finish make it great on its own. Vander Kelen finished the day 33 of 48 for 401 yards, while being named co-MVP of the game despite the loss.
It capped off one of the best single seasons by any quarterback in Badgers history. His 1,009 yards passing and 1,237 total offensive yards led the Big Ten and were 12th nationally.
While those numbers don’t seem impressive for today’s standards, back in that era of the Big Ten and college football in general he was one of the best that final season. What holds him back is that it was the only season he recorded stats according to sports-reference.com.
No doubt about it, Vander Kelen had one of the all-time great games and great seasons in Badgers football history, and that should earn him a spot on our list.
Full 50 Greatest Badgers List:
No. 50 – Randy Jablonic
No. 49 – Alex Rigsby
No. 48 — Michael Lihrman
No. 47 — Howard “Cub” Buck
No. 46 — Don Davey
No. 45 — Pat O’Dea
No. 44 — Curtis Joseph
No. 43 — Dean Anderson
No. 42 — Ivy Martin