Though Badgers fans hoped for a playoff run or Rose Bowl berth, the Wisconsin Badgers have headed to Arlington, Texas to play undefeated Western Michigan in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. Head coach Paul Chryst, however, looks with pride on the football program’s recognition in this January 2nd bowl game.
“It’s historically been a big bowl,” Chryst said. “Any time you get a chance to play in a bowl game that’s assigned by a committee, then when you find out you’re playing one of two undefeated teams, it was exciting to me, and I know to our kids, too.”
This year’s bowl game marks the Badgers’ 15th straight bowl bid, and their first time in the Cotton Bowl.
Traditionally, the Cotton Bowl, which dates back to 1937, hosted the Southwest Conference champions and another high-ranked team, many times from the Southeastern Conference. Since 2014, the Cotton Bowl has been one of six College Football Playoff bowl games (The “New Year’s Six”) along with the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl.
In the past ten years, Wisconsin has made appearances in CFP bowls three times from 2011 to 2013. All three were losses in the Rose Bowl. And in the past 14 bowl games which the Badgers have played in, they post a lackluster 6 -8 record.
The numbers mean little to Chryst and his Big Ten West Champion team. The Big Ten Head Coach of the Year boasts a 1-0 record in bowl games after the Badgers beat the USC Trojans 23-21 in the Holiday Bowl in 2015. And his team of offensive leaders in Corey Clement, Jazz Peavy and Troy Fumagalli and defensive powerhouses in Vince Biegel, T.J. Watt and Sojourn Shelton hope to push towards an even bowl game record for the Badgers.
The Western Michigan Broncos of the Mid-American Conference bring something new to the Badgers’ bowl game legacy. The Broncos have played in eight total bowl games, six in the past ten years. They have a 1-7 bowl record, with their only win being in 2015 in the Bahamas Bowl against Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.
The Broncos are, however, only one of two teams going into bowl season undefeated—the other being Alabama. Head coach P.J. Fleck and his high-strung offense hope to go to Arlington, Texas and maintain their record against the 10-3 Wisconsin Badgers.
The Goodyear Cotton Bowl will be broadcast on ESPN at 12:00 p.m. on Mon. January 2, 2017.