An invitation would mark the Badgers’ first trip to the elite New Year’s Day Bowl since beating Stanford 17-9 in the 2000 Rose Bowl. Ironically enough, the Badgers may face off with #6 Stanford who appear to be a legitimate at-large option for a BCS bowl this season.
By: Nick Grays
Here’s what Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema had to say about whether he had any doubts on the team’s bowl destination:
“Not really. I think we played well enough today that we’ll continue to stay where we’re at, maybe move up. I really believe that right now, the way we’re playing, we’re playing as good as anybody in the country. Over the last couple days, you were able to watch people play all around this country, different leagues playing, rivalry games and stuff like that. As a football coach, I can sit back and say that we can play with anybody and play with confidence and keep moving forward,” said Bielema.
“Wherever it is, this is going to be a special bowl-prep, and our kids will enjoy every day of it. Wherever we end of being and whoever we end up playing, it will be fun,” added Bielema.
In addition to the prospective Rose Bowl bid, the Badgers have earned a share of their 12th Big Ten title in school history and their first since 1999. Wisconsin shares the Big Ten Championship with Ohio State and Michigan State who also ended the season with 11-1 records.
The Badgers have been downright dominant at home this season as they’ve averaged a ridiculous 48.9 points per game. They also went 7-0 from the friendly confines of Camp Randall for the fourth time in school history.
Fourteen seniors said farewell in their final games in Madison, but it was two underclassman who stole the show in the impressive win over the Wildcats.
Feature back and sophomore Montee Ball continued to prove his value with 180 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Ball becomes the second Badger ever to record four-touchdown games in back-to-back weeks (Ron Dayne did the same in1996).
“From the first time we met him, I remember him coming in my office and the smile that he has. He’s playing with such confidence. He’s faster than he’s ever looked. He’s strong, breaking tackles. He’s a very patient runner in our scheme in how he allows plays to develop in front of him. He’s playing very, very well,” said Bielema.
On the other side of the ball, junior defensive end J.J. Watt (pictured above with the rose in his mouth) could not be stopped. Watt recorded seven tackles (three for a loss), two forced fumbles, a sack and a blocked extra point.
“He’s a good football player. He’s a great football player. Like I said, I know how you want me to expand on some superlatives, but he’s a tremendous football player,” said Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald on the subject of Watt.
Watt really knows how to show up on the national stage and is a serious threat to Purdue’s DE Ryan Kerrigan and the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. On the season Watt has 21.0 TFLs, 7.0 sacks, three forced fumbles, three blocked kicks, two fumble recoveries and an interception.