Thousands of University of Wisconsin students, alumni and fans made the trek to the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, to cheer on the Badgers in their third straight Rose Bowl performance.

Justin Doherty, UW associate athletic director, said the UW Athletic Department used around 16,500 Rose Bowl tickets for the January 1 game which ended with a 20-14 loss for the Badgers. He said the number of Rose Bowl tickets the Athletic Department uses has been steadily declining over the past three years.

The Athletic Department used around 25,000 tickets in last year’s 2012 Rose Bowl, which was a drop from the 35,000 tickets the Athletic Department used in the 2011 Rose Bowl game, Doherty said.

Doherty said he did not know the exact amount of students who purchased Rose Bowl tickets through the Athletic Department this year but he knew the turnout was solid.

“I know we had good student response,” Doherty said.

Many UW students expressed their excitement and willingness to make the trip to the Rose Bowl, with some students attending the game for the third year in a row.

Mark Funke, a senior at UW and a native of New Berlin said he was excited to make Tuesday’s game his third straight Rose Bowl. Funke, along with six of his friends, dressed up as penguins for the game, carrying on a tradition they started at this year’s Big 10 Championship game.

“I was planning to go all year, assuming that Penn State and Ohio State weren’t going to be able to go,” Funke said. “It was pretty much a guarantee. We just had to beat Nebraska, and we rocked them.”

Funke and his friends took five different flights out, but were able to meet up in the Los Angeles International Airport within an hour. He said they plan to stop at Las Vegas on the way home.

Tuesday’s game was a once in a lifetime opportunity for many other Badgers.

UW student Corinne Lake, a freshman from Bethesda, Maryland, made the decision to buy a ticket and fly across the country shorty before the tickets went on sale. She said despite the long journey, she did not want to miss such a unique opportunity.

“This doesn’t happen every year,” Lake said. “The chances of us going next year are very slim.”

Other Badgers faced a much shorter trek to support their team in Pasadena. Many from Southern California are only a comparatively quick drive away from Rose Bowl stadium.

Freshman Brad Miller from Pewaukee was part of a group students from Witte Hall who stayed with fellow Badger Josh Levin at Levin’s home in California. Levin, also a freshman, lives in Calabasa, a town outside of Los Angeles.

The trip was worth it even with a Badger loss, Miller said. He said the whole experience, including a fun New Years Eve, led him to have a good time.

Levin said he was able to attend the Rose Bowl because of its proximity to his home, and added he was unsure if he would make the trip to a game that would require him to travel far. 

“It’s exciting to be playing a team close to home for me,” Levin said. “They’re somewhat local, and that makes them a rival in my heart.”

Levin said hosting five of his friends from Witte, including Miller, had been a little rough, but they both enjoyed the Badger camaraderie.

“There were lots of Badgers on the plane,” Miller said. “Everyone just came up to me and just started talking. We’re like one big family.”