Brent Yarina, BTN.com Senior Editor, January 2, 2017
Wisconsin faced a lose-lose situation vs. Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl.
Win, and the Badgers, the Big Ten West champs, beat a team they were supposed to; lose, and it would have been embarrassed by a Group of 5 team.
At the end of the day, Wisconsin avoided any embarrassment, while also giving the Big Ten a much-needed bowl victory in a 24-16 decision Monday.
BEST OF THE COTTON BOWL
Best play: Troy Fumagalli's one-handed grab. Not only was it a ridiculous one-hander, the Wisconsin tight end did it on a 3rd-and-13 to set up the team's first touchdown, and with his hand that only has four fingers, the result of having his left index finger amputated.
Best player: Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin. The tight end caught six passes for 83 yards and a touchdown, several of them on third down to extend drives. The only mistake he made was a drop on a would-be touchdown catch.
Best moment: Wisconsin LB T.J. Edwards' interception. A former Western Michigan commit, Edwards received more than his share of jokes from his teammates entering the game. His interception in a one-score game gave the Badgers possession in the red zone, and set up the touchdown that made it a two-score game. You know joking only will continue after Edwards' big pick.
Best stat: 11-of-12, Bart Houston's completions and attempts, good enough for a 92 percent completion percentage.
Offense: B+. The unit didn't blow Western Michigan away, by any means, but it was balanced (184 passing yards, 178 receiving yards) and it didn't turn the ball over. Bart Houston was efficient through the air, completing 11-of-12 passes for 159 yards.
Defense: A-. Wisconsin surrendered just 280 total yards and forced five fumbles. Amazingly, the Badgers were unable to recover any of the balls on the turf. Also of note, the Badgers limited all-world receiver Corey Davis to six receptions, 73 yards and one touchdown, a beautiful highlight that kept the game alive late in the fourth quarter.
Special teams: B+. There wasn't much from the unit on this day, however Andrew Endicott drilled his lone field goal (30 yards), and Anthony Lotti booted three punts for 125 yards, including one inside the 20.