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INDIANAPOLIS – After a brutal schedule that saw them play six teams ranked in the top 10, the University of Wisconsin will take solace in the fact that its resume has earned them a spot in one of the New Year’s Six bowl games.
Winners of the Big Ten West Division and extending the longest active bowl streak in the Big Ten to 15 seasons, in part by knocking off three top-10 teams, the Badgers will play Western Michigan in the 81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
The game will be played on January 2, 2017 at noon CT in Arlington, Texas.
"We're going to attack it full strength," senior linebacker Vince Biegel said. "Most importantly it'll be the next chapter, the senior's last game, kind of getting the bad taste out of our mouth. These are the games your come back for. The journey isn't done for this team, but I'm proud of the ups and downs we've gone through."
Wisconsin (10-3) is 13-14 in bowl games but has never matched up with a MAC conference school.
The Badgers are 3-1 all-time against Western Michigan, with all the meetings coming in Madison. Wisconsin has played the Broncos since a 19-7 victory to kick off the 2000 season and are 31-2 all-time against teams currently in the Mid-American, including a 54-10 win over Akron in week two. The Broncos beat the Zips, 41-0, on the road in October.
“I’m excited for our players to have the opportunity to be a part of a game with the long and storied history like the Cotton Bowl has," head coach Paul Chryst said. “This game has featured a number of great programs and great players throughout the years and we are proud to now have a chance to be a part of that history. I appreciate what our players have done to earn the right to play in this game. Western Michigan has had a tremendous year and will present a terrific challenge for us."
No.13 Western Michigan beat Ohio, 29-23, in Detroit Friday to wrap up the program's first conference championship since 1988 with a percent 13-0 record (8-0 in Mid-American Conference).
The offense is potent, scoring 43.5 points per game to rank eighth nationally. The Broncos have a 3,000-yard passer (Zach Terrell), a 1,000-yard rusher (Jarvion Franklin) and a 1,000-yard receiver (Corey Davis), who is the FBS leader in yards receiving with 1,427 (91 catches, 18 touchdowns).
The Broncos defense is holding team to 19.5 points per game and beat two Big Ten teams (Northwestern and Illinois) on the road in nonconference play.
The Broncos and Alabama are the only two undefeated teams in FBS football.
“We deserve to be in the gosh darn Cotton Bowl,” head coach P.J. Flech said post game. “Period. Write it down.”
It will be the first appearance for the Badgers in the Cotton Bowl and serve as an opportunity to shake off Saturday’s stinging 38-31 loss to No.8 Penn State. In the last three season, Wisconsin is 7-1 following a loss, including 4-1 under Chryst.
“I’m confident that they’ll turn the page,” Chryst said. “Thankfully in a game like (Penn State), you feel really fortunate you get one more game we can play together. This is a neat team.”