Forewarning: While I have zero affiliation with either team in this year’s Cotton Bowl Classic, I would be lying if I said I was unbiased. I grew up in Ohio in an Ohio State family. While I no longer root for the Buckeyes, some of my emotions and opinions about Michigan certain Big Ten football teams remain. While we always despised the “Team Up North” we also, to a degree, respected them. We did not, however, in any way shape or form, respect the Wisconsin Badgers and, especially their fan base. Also, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want to see P.J. Fleck and the Western Michigan Broncos row the boat over any and every Power 5 opponent. That being said, I’m going to keep this as diplomatic and unbiased as I possibly can manage.
Whilst I was holding out for an in-state matchup between the two best Michigan teams (sorry MSU) in this year’s Cotton Bowl, I was pleased with the Wisconsin Badgers vs. Western Michigan Broncos draw. If I’m going to be honest, I believe that this game could actually be close. Granted, WMU needs to play at its top possible level, but I believe that the Broncos have a legitimate shot at beating Wisconsin. Zach Terrell has made very few mistakes this season, throwing only 3 interceptions. However, he did that with very little pressure, only being sacked 14 times over the 13-game season. Wisconsin, which probably has a top-10 defense, will definitely look to disrupt and hit Terrell early and often to force mistakes. The key for Terrell will be to suck it up, take the hits, and not change his progression whatsoever. If he does so, the Broncos should be able to dent the Badger defense.
Many people, myself included, will focus on the matchup between the Broncos offense and the Badgers defense. However, the other side of the football offers an interesting storyline. Coming into the Cotton Bowl, the Badgers have the 86th ranked offense, directly behind the Rice Owls. There is a chance that the Badgers could seriously struggle offensively, which could turn the game into either a Western Michigan blowout or a defensive struggle.
In the end, I see this game being a defensive struggle. While both offenses may put up a good chunk of points, the winner of the Cotton Bowl will be determined by which defense steps up in the fourth quarter. I think this game will stay tight, but the Wisconsin pressure will be too much late, and the Broncos will be unable (unfortunately) to score the winning touchdown at the end of the game.
Final Score: Wisconsin Badgers 31, Western Michigan Broncos 28
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