Wisconsin is going for win No. 11 for the fourth time in seven years Monday in the Cotton Bowl. But an undefeated team is standing in the way.
The No. 8 Badgers (10-3) battled a brutal schedule to win the Big Ten West and a spot in the Big Ten championship game. Though Wisconsin lost to Penn State, the Badgers’ season included wins against LSU, Iowa and Nebraska and close losses to powers Ohio State and Michigan.
But No. 15 Western Michigan (13-0) will be a different type of challenge. The Broncos are the undefeated champions of the Mid-American Conference. Though it’s from a Group of 5 league, Western Michigan already has beaten two Big Ten teams on the road this season, Northwestern and Illinois.
Wisconsin vs. Western Michigan game time, details
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Date: Monday, Jan. 2
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Tex.
Weather: AT&T Stadium has a retractable roof. For Arlington, Weather.com predicts a high of 71 degrees with 80 percent chance of rain, especially early in the day. There will be sunny skies by the afternoon.
The line: Wisconsin is an 8-point favorite.
Which TV channel broadcasts Wisconsin-Western Michigan?
It will be televised nationally by ESPN.
How can I watch Wisconsin-Western Michigan online?
WatchESPN will stream the game.
How can I listen to Wisconsin-Western Michigan on the radio?
If you’re in Madison, Wis., you can listen to the game on 1310-AM and 101.5-FM. You can find Badger Radio Network stations here. ESPN Radio’s Brad Sham, Rod Gilmore and Quint Kessenich are calling the game.
Who is calling the game on TV for ESPN?
Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard and Allison Williams will call the game on TV.
Wisconsin vs. Western Michigan keys to the game
1. Wisconsin can’t underestimate the Broncos
Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst and the players know Western Michigan must be taken seriously. Not only are the Broncos unbeaten, but seven of their 13 wins have been by at least 20 points. Wisconsin may also have been a little disappointed after the heartbreaking loss to Penn State in the Big Ten title game, so it must hope there are no lingering doubts in Texas.
On paper, Western Michigan may seem to have more to play for with a perfect record on the line and a chance to upset a Big Ten team.
But Badgers LB T.J. Watt seems to understand how important this game is for both teams.
T.J. Watt: "We're going in there trying to wreck their season. They would love to finish undefeated and I'd love to make sure they don't."
— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) December 30, 2016
2. Wisconsin must make Western Michigan one-dimensional
The Broncos average more than 40 points per game, often flying past helpless MAC foes during the season. Western Michigan rushes for 237 yards per game and passes for almost 260 more. So Wisconsin must take away as many options as possible. RBs Jarvion Franklin and Jamauri Bogan combine for more than 2,100 yards and WR Corey Davis has 1,427 yards, but it all starts with QB Zach Terrell. The senior has 3,376 passing yards to go with his 32 TDs with only 3 interceptions.
However, two of those interceptions came in the MAC title game against Ohio. The Broncos survived that one, 29-23. Badgers LBs T.J. Edwards and Watt will be ready. The Badgers didn’t finish No. 7 for total defense (303 yards per game) by accident.
3. Wisconsin’s two-QB system
Alex Hornibrook is healthy again. So he and senior Bart Houston are expected to both get snaps against the Broncos. With Wisconsin’s style under coach Paul Chryst, RB Corey Clement (1,304 rushing yards, 14 TDs) and the running game will get plenty of touches. But the Badgers prefer to use two quarterbacks in games — they haven’t lost when both see significant action. Western Michigan hopes that changes in the Cotton Bowl.
Here are the quarterback’s statistics for the year:
- Alex Hornibrook: 104-for-179, 1,243 passing yards, 8 TDs, 7 INTs
- Bart Houston: 85-for-129, 1,086 passing yards, 5 TDs, 3 INTs