Wisconsin Badgers safety D'Cota Dixon (14) and others, including linebacker Jack Cichy (not in uniform at right), celebrate an interception during the fourth quarter of the Cotton Bowl game against the Western Michigan Broncos at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. M.P. KING, STATE JOURNAL


Offense: B

Troy Fumagalli was UW's security blanket all day. Four of his six catches converted third downs, including the touchdown grab. Corey Clement got UW off to a fast start and ran hard despite facing eight- and nine-man boxes. Bart Houston and Alex Hornibrook had one incompletion in 14 passes and that was a drop.

Defense: B-plus

UW held Western Michigan 27 points below its scoring average. On a scale of 1 to 10, T.J. Edwards' interception was a 12. It was a great play at just the right time. Other than the final touchdown, all-American Corey Davis did little when Sojourn Shelton was covering him. Can anyone here fall on a fumble?

Special teams: B-plus

The untold story of Edwards' game-turning interception at the 12 was that punter Anthony Lotti had pinned the Broncos at the 3. UW's coverage units held dangerous Darius Phillips to 1 yard on one punt return and 15 yards on one kickoff return. P.J. Rosowski had four touchbacks on five kickoffs. He's a weapon.

Coaching: B

Figuring the Broncos would jam up the middle, Paul Chryst hit them on the edges as UW went 75 and 88 yards for two quick touchdowns. The game-clinching run by Austin Ramesh fooled everyone. Putting Shelton on Davis when he lined up wide was a wise move, expecting a safety to cover Davis in the slot wasn't.

Overall: B-plus

With the Penn State defeat still fresh in their minds, the Badgers came out highly motivated, jumped to a 14-0 lead and made Western Michigan play catch-up all day. The Broncos had enough weapons to stay within striking distance, but UW, as it did throughout this special season, had an answer every time.


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