Frogs and Badgers in Pasadena

It was an announcement 11 years in the making, which made it hard to wait even another week. After beating Northwestern to earn a share of the conference championship, No.4 Wisconsin can finally celebrate a trip to Pasadena to face No.3 TCU.

MADISON – It was the worst kept secret in the state of Wisconsin. Just over a week after No.4 Wisconsin throttled Northwestern to win a share of the Big Ten Conference championship, the Badgers and their fans had to wait patiently until Sunday night to officially start smelling the roses. They certainly enjoyed the wait.

Just a couple hours after the Badgers were officially invited to play in the 97th Rose Bowl on January 1, donors and season ticket holders bought out their allotment and Wisconsin's students bought all of its tickets in just 19 minutes.

"We've been anticipating this announcement, (but) it's a tremendous opportunity," said UW Coach Bret Bielema. "To be able to take these guys out there and experience everything that goes into the Rose Bowl, one of the most prestigious places in all of college football, will be very, very unique."

Wisconsin's first Rose Bowl appearance in 11 years won't be an easy one, as the Badgers (11-1) will face off against TCU, one of three undefeated teams left, the champion of the Mountain West Conference.

It's the first Rose Bowl berth for the Horned Frogs (12-0) compared to the seventh for the Badgers, but the second straight year TCU will be playing in a BCS bowl, after losing to Boise State 17-10 in the Fiesta Bowl last season. Wisconsin hasn't played in a BCS bowl since beating Stanford, 17-9, in Pasadena in 2000.

Even with the youth of its opponent on the grand stage, Wisconsin opens as an early three-point underdog.

"I've never really used the underdog," Bielema said. "I think this is a way for our program to get a lot of respect. I think to go out and win a BCS game. As much as I love the seniors we have a lot of good players coming back. Hopefully it's a great way to send momentum into 2011."

Statistically, the Horned Frogs provide the best defensive challenge Wisconsin will have faced this season. TCU is No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense (11.42 ppg) and total defense (21.42 ypg) and No. 3 against the run (89.17 ypg).

The Horned Frogs have held seven foes to single digits in points, the best mark in the nation, and are trying to finish first in total defense for the third consecutive season.

It will certainly be a test for the Badgers, who won its final seven regular-season games by averaging 48.3 points of offense during the streak and combining for 201 points in its final three games.

"I know a lot of people are going to say, 'TCU should maybe be in that championship game.' The way it all works, they're not," Bielema said. "So now we get to play them. It's our own little championship game."

The teams only common opponent is Nevada Las Vegas, which got beat by UW, 41-21, in Week 1 and TCU, 48-6, on Oct. 30.

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