Monday, January 2, 2017

That's a wrap on the 81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

It's all over but the cleaning up!
   The confetti is being swept up and the post game press conferences are winding down. It's been another successful Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. What a way to cap off a terrific 2016 football season.
   Congratulations to the victorious Wisconsin Badgers who never panicked and made the big plays needed to win. And congrats to Western Michigan on a remarkable season and representing the its fans and conference proudly.
   Safe travels home to our friends from Madison and Kalamazoo. Happy New Year!

...and Corey Davis' amazing catch

Fumagalli's amazing catch...

Final Stats

Fumagalli, Edwards named Outstanding Players

   Wisconsin tight end Troy Fumagalli was voted the recipient of the Sanford Trophy as the Goodyear Cotton Bowl's Outstanding Offensive Player. Fumagalli, a senior from Aurora, Illinois, led the Badgers with six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown.
   Wisconsin inside linebacker T.J. Edwards was voted the McKnight Trophy as the Outstanding Defensive Player. Edwards, a junior from Lake Villa, Illinois, was Wisconsin's leading tackler with 10 total stops (four unassisted) and came up with a key interception.

Wisconsin closes out 81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl

   Wisconsin was able to run out the final 3:27 to keep the ball out of Western Michigan's hands and avoid the upset.
   A crowd of 59,615 saw Wisconsin quarterbacks Bart Houston (11 of 12) and Alex Hornibrook (2 of 2) combine to complete 13 of 14 passes for a .928 completion percentage. That percentage ranks as second in Cotton Bowl history behind Texas' .929 (13 of 14) against Missouri in the 1946 Classic.

It's a final: Wisconsin holds off Western Michigan

Amazing catch keeps Western Michigan in it

   Facing 4th-and-4 from the Wisconsin 11 with under four minutes to go, Western Michigan receiver Corey Davis came up with a big-time catch to make it a one-possession game.
   On the fourth down play, WMU quarterback Zach Terrell rolled to his right and couldn't find anyone open. After buying some time, Terrell heaved a pass to back of the end zone and the ball somehow found Davis for the TD.
   The catch, following a missed extra point, cut Wisconsin's lead to 24-16 with 3:27 remaining. Western Michigan has two timeouts left and needs a defensive stop to keep its hopes alive.

Wisconsin converts turnover into touchdown

   After being stymied most of the half, Wisconsin's offense got the break it needed when T.J. Edwards intercepted a Western Michigan pass at the Broncos' 12 yard line.
   Three plays later, Alex Hornibrook tossed an eight-yard pass to tight end Troy Fumagalli in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.
   The score gave Wisconsin a 24-10 lead and a some much-needed breathing room with 12:26 to play in the game.

Crazy play nets five yards for Western Michigan

Western Michigan opens second half with scoring drive

   Western Michigan put together another nice possession as the Broncos opened the second half with an 11-pay scoring drive.
   Butch Hampton knocked in a 27-yard field goal with 10 minutes left in the third quarter to trim Wisconsin's lead to 17-10.

Halftime stats

Wisconsin pushes lead to 17-7 just before half

   The Badgers put together a nine-play drive to reclaim a double-digit lead with 18 seconds left until halftime.
   Andrew Endicott booted a 30-yard field goal after the Badgers threatened to find the end zone a third time.

Broncos get on the scoreboard with lengthy drive

   Western Michigan gave Wisconsin a little of its own medicine with a time-consuming scoring drive.
   The Broncos took 8:45 off the clock with a 16-play drive that covered 65 yards. Quarterback Zach Terrell finished it off by scoring on a naked bootleg from two yards out.
   The Western Michigan drive featured a clutch catch by Corey Davis on fourth-and-five. Also a fumble on the next play that was overturned by replay to keep the drive alive.
   The bottom line: We've got a game with Wisconsin's lead cut in half, 14-7, with 5:27 until halftime.

First quarter was all Badgers

  The statistics from the first quarter tell a tale of Wisconsin dominance even more than the 14-0 score.
   Wisconsin has outgained Western Michigan 166 yards to 46. The Badgers are particularly effective rushing the ball, with 104 yards on the ground to just four for Western Michigan.
   Time of possession is heavily tilted toward Wisconsin. The Badgers had 11:11 of possession time to 3:49 for the Broncos.
   Western Michigan star receiver Corey Davis had one catch for 22 yards. Wisconsin standout T.J. Watt had a sack.

Badgers find the end zone a second time

It's 14-0 Wisconsin with 3:23 left in the first quarter as Western Michigan has yet to gain any traction. Wisconsin just finished off an eight-play, 88-yard scoring drive. This time Dare Ogunbowale took the honor with a one-yard TD plunge.

Eagle eye

Even Challenger the Bald Eagle doesn't like @dannykanell #cottonbowl

A photo posted by Joey Galloway (@joey_galloway) on

Wisconsin strikes first

   Wisconsin showed its strength from the start. The Badgers took the opening kickoff and marched 75 yards in 11 plays, taking 6:08 off the clock. Corey Clement capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown run.
   Now it's Western Michigan's turn to answer.


   The anthem at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic is always an inspiring moment. This time it was particularly thrilling as the bald eagle "Challenger" made a majestic flight around the stadium during the song.
Here's a shot of Challenger completing an earlier trip around the stadium, courtesy of USA Today.

Wisconsin Band

Western Michigan Band

Getting warmed up

Rays of sunlight hit the AT&T Stadium field as the first warmups begin for the 81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.

   It's Game Day! The AT&T Stadium parking lots are full of tailgaters while inside final preparations are being made for the 81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
   Western Michigan (13-0) vs. Wisconsin (10-3) will kick off at 12:01 pm (Central) and will be televised on ESPN as well as ESPN Deportes.
   This is the 13th time the Cotton Bowl Classic has been played on Jan. 2 instead of the traditional New Year's Day. The last time the game was played on Jan. 2, Mississippi and Oklahoma State met in the 2010 game that was the first to be played in AT&T Stadium.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

AT&T Stadium Bag Policy will be enforced Monday

   If you got a huge Badgers or Broncos tote bag for Christmas and you're dying to show it off at the game, sorry. The AT&T Stadium bag policy will be in effect Monday for the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
   The chart above has all the details (click on it for a larger version). Basically, only small, see-through bags are permitted into the stadium.
   The policy is to help ensure everyone's safety. Besides, you don't want to get nacho cheese sauce on that brand-new tote bag.

Battle of the Bands

Final Words: Head coaches' press conference means game is near

Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck (left) and Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst speak to the media one last time the day before squaring off in the 81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. Photo: Melissa Macatee/CBAA
   After a week of fun and practices, almost everyone involved in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic is itching to take the field. One sure sign that it's getting close to kickoff time is the annual combined press conference with the competing coaches.
   Both Wisconsin's Paul Chryst and Western Michigan's P.J. Fleck said Sunday morning that their teams are ready for the challenge that awaits them.
   "This week has been life changing for a lot of our players, I will say that," Fleck said. "We're very humble to be here. We're very humble to be able to represent the Group of 5, the Mid-American Conference, and obviously the elite institution that Western Michigan is.
   "We play an incredible opponent. Coach Chryst and the Wisconsin Badgers have done a tremendous job all year. They're very, very deserving of where they're at. We have got our hands full for tomorrow."
   Wisconsin's Chryst was also appreciative of the Cotton Bowl's famed hospitality and the opportunities provided to his team.
   "And now tomorrow we get to play the game," Chryst said. "I think that's the way that we as a team get to pay back. It's our thank you to the Cotton Bowl and everything they've done, is to play well.
   "And we're going to need to play well, obviously. I think you don't go undefeated in a season without being a really good team and not just good players and good coaching, but I think Western has got something going that grabbed the attention of our players early in the preparation."

Rangerettes keep kickin' up fun at the Cotton Bowl

Members of the Kilgore College Rangerettes served as hostesses at Wisconsin's team visit to Main Event.
   Monday's game will mark the 67th consecutive appearance of the famed Kilgore College Rangerettes at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
   The Rangerettes, the original dance/drill team, have become a part of the Cotton Bowl experience beyond pregame and halftime performances. The Rangerettes serve as ambassadors for the Cotton Bowl throughout game week, such as serving as greeters and hostesses for many events.
   Every sophomore member of the Rangerettes receives a commemorative watch from the Cotton Bowl as thanks for their service.