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Wisconsin Badgers defensive end Garrett Rand (93), linebacker Chris Orr (50), and defensive end Chikwe Obasih (34) hoist the Field Scovell Trophy while celebrating their win over the Western Michigan Broncos in the Cotton Bowl game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. At far right is Wisconsin Badgers defensive end Conor Sheehy (94). M.P. KING, STATE JOURNAL

M.P. KING, STATE JOURNAL

Jan. 2, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas

Record: 11-3

ARLINGTON, Texas — The venue wasn’t the Rose Bowl. The stakes weren’t on par with the College Football Playoff.

Still, the University of Wisconsin sunk the boat on one season Monday while validating its own. Coming off a crushing loss to Penn State in last month’s Big Ten Championship game in which the Badgers blew a 21-point lead, eighth-ranked UW finished off an overachieving year with the type of dominant defensive performance one has come to expect from this program.

The 24-16 win over previously-undefeated Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium was UW’s first BCS or New Year’s Six Bowl victory since winning the Rose Bowl to end the 1999 season.

"We just wanted to get back out there and prove ourselves again,” UW inside linebacker T.J. Edwards said. “I think it kind of left a bad taste in our mouth after the Big Ten Championship game. … It was just time to prove ourselves, so I’m glad we could do that."

Edwards, the game’s defensive MVP, made arguably the biggest play of the day when he intercepted quarterback Zach Terrell deep in Western Michigan territory early in the fourth quarter. That set up an eight-yard touchdown from Alex Hornibrook to tight end Troy Fumagalli, giving UW a 24-10 lead.

It was only Terrell’s fourth interception and the Broncos’ eighth turnover of the season, and even with a late touchdown pass to star wide receiver Corey Davis, Western Michigan’s prolific offense set a new season low for points.

"We went out and we made a statement,” UW cornerback Derrick Tindal said. "We lost the Penn State game, but we’re a great team and we know how to come back from that, and that’s what we showed."

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