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2013 Rose Bowl: Stanford's Barry Sanders Jr. replicates Montee Ball in practice

In the lead-up to this year's Rose Bowl, Stanford freshman running back Barry Sanders Jr. has played the role of Wisconsin's Montee Ball in practice. Last year Ball tied the record of Sanders' father, Barry Sanders, with 39 touchdown scores.

US PRESSWIRE

In preparation for their Rose Bowl match-up with Wisconsin, Stanford has used true freshman Barry Sanders Jr. to replicate Badgers' star running back Montee Ball in practice. Sanders Jr. is the son of famed Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders.

Here was Ball's reaction to the news on Sunday, with his quotes coming via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

"Barry Sanders’ kid is here?. Really? Really? Seriously?

The news has special meaning for Ball, who struck up a relationship with the elder Sanders during his All-American junior year in 2011. At the time, Ball tied Sanders' single-season record of 39 touchdowns, and in the process finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Ball returned for his senior season this fall, but hasn't had nearly the same impact as his junior year, with just 1,733 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns in 2012. However Ball did break the FBS career rushing touchdown record with 79 earlier this season.

Meanwhile, Sanders Jr. is currently red-shirting as a freshman at Stanford, after arriving at the school as a highly-touted running back recruit last fall.

Stanford and Wisconsin will play in this year's Rose Bowl on Tuesday, at 2:00 PT on ESPN.