With a 9-2 record and a No. 16 ranking, though, Wisconsin still earned the right to play No. 8 Georgia (9-2) in today's Outback Bowl.
What does this game mean to the Badgers?
Head coach Barry Alvarez:
"Ten wins is very difficult to get. There are a handful of programs in the country, Georgia being one of them, that consistently are able to compete for 10 wins, and that's very impressive. I'll tell you how hard it is, in the history of our school, I believe we've had three 10-win seasons. That tells you how difficult it is to get to 10. To reach that level, you're playing very good football, both in conference and against very competitive leagues. It's very meaningful when you reach that level."
"We always talk to our seniors about their legacy and our guys have given of us very good attention and prepared well. They've practiced hard."
"I don't think there's much thought about those last two games. We certainly have our work cut out for us with Georgia."
Defensive end Erasmus James:
"Very important. 10 wins man. That's what we're looking forward to. We went 9-0 and they we lost the last two games. We want to… show these younger guys what it means to have hard work and get that tenth win because it means a lot to the whole team, especially the seniors."
Wide receivers coach Henry Mason:
"No. 1 it gives you a tenth game [to win]. Every game is important….It's an important game. It's a reward for our kids. Our kids played well all year. We've parlayed that into a Jan. 1 bowl game. When you play on Jan. 1, No. 1, you've got to be a pretty good football team. No. 2, you are going to play a pretty good football team.
"There's not a conference championship on the line. It's just two good football teams, going out, playing on Jan. 1 and getting after each other. This is a fun game as far as I'm concerned.
"I like the fact that we're playing on Jan. 1, we're playing against a good football team, we've got a chance to showcase our program."
Successful year either way?
"Absolutely. You win nine games in a year, that's pretty. good. You win 10, that's really good."
Receiver Brandon Williams:
"I think it's very important to us as a team and as a program, getting back to that Jan. 1 bowl. We haven't been there in a couple years. And getting that 10-win season, there's not an opportunity to do that every year. That's very important to us too. And just getting a bowl victory, keeping the legacy going."
Successful either way?
"It's successful. We started off 9-0. But it would still be a disappointment if we don't get a victory in that bowl game."
How tough to get past end of season?
"It really hurt. To have two chances to make it to the Rose Bowl and not make it on either one, it really hurt. But what's done is done, it's in the past. We have to look forward to Georgia. We are looking forward to this game."
Quarterback John Stocco:
Assessment of the season to-date:
"I felt like we did a lot of good things as a team. We had a very good season. We've got a chance to win 10 games. It's a great challenge for us. We've had a great season. Obviously the way it ended was not the way we would have liked but we still had a great season and we still have a lot to play for."
How tough was it to get over the last two games?
"We just wanted to keep it to a couple days and let it go.
"We just need to continue to do the things that we've done well over the year and feel a little bit better for this final game."