The Wisconsin Badgers aren’t going where they’d hoped. But on the bright side, Mad City, they’re heading somewhere they’ve never been.
After hours of speculation, coach Paul Chryst’s squad found out its postseason fate on Sunday afternoon, being selected for a berth in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas, against Western Michigan.
The Badgers (10-3), ranked eighth in the Associated Press Top-25 poll released Sunday morning, fell to No. 5 Penn State (11-2), 38-31, in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis.
“This (loss) is going to sting for a while,” Vince Biegel, the Badgers’ senior linebacker, told Land of 10 after Wisconsin saw a 28-14 halftime lead slip away. “We’re going to (attack) the preparations once we figure out what the bowl game is. We’re cool with whatever.
“Obviously, you want to go to a nice bowl game — and not just for the players, but also for the coaches, their families (who) go out there and have a nice bowl game to cap off a great season.”
Wisconsin can stake a claim as the best three-loss team in the Football Bowl Subdivision with wins over AP No. 19 LSU (16-14), No. 21 Iowa (17-9) and No. 24 Nebraska (23-17, OT) on its ledger, with the victories over the Tigers and Hawkeyes coming away from Camp Randall Stadium.
The Badgers’ three losses were to all to teams ranked among the top six in the AP, each by seven points. Wisconsin fell at No. 6 Michigan, 14-7, on Oct. 1; vs. No. 2 Ohio State, 30-23 in overtime at Madison on Oct. 15; and vs. No. 5 Penn State this past Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Badgers have never played in the Cotton Bowl and haven’t played in a Texas-based bowl since the 2002 Alamo in San Antonio.
Wisconsin is 2-0 all-time in postseason games at the Lone Star State, with a 21-20 win over UCLA in the 2000 Sun Bowl and a 31-28 victory over Colorado in the aforementioned Alamo.
The Badgers have yet to face a “Group of Five” program in a bowl game. Wisconsin has faced the Broncos (13-0) four times since 1963, winning three of the matchups. The Badgers last played Western Michigan in 2000, topping the Broncos 19-7 on Aug. 31, 2000 in Madison.
“The Big Ten Championship Game, this doesn’t diminish a great season, a great journey,” Biegel said. “I was proud of leading these young men all season, but the season isn’t over yet. We’ve got one more chapter.”