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Which bowl games are most likely for Wisconsin football?

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A few key questions have to be answered before the University of Wisconsin football team plays in a bowl game for the 21st consecutive season.

The Badgers (6-6) don’t know who’s coaching them. Luke Fickell was hired Sunday to take over the program, but he is in talks with UW interim coach Jim Leonhard about how the team will proceed the next month as they prepare for the game. Fickell said at his news conference Monday he will be involved in coaching the team in some capacity, but he and Leonhard are working out how that looks.

UW doesn’t know who its assistant coaches will be for the bowl game. UW posted job listings for offensive and defensive coordinator, assistant coach and two strength coaching positions. A clause in UW assistants’ contracts state their agreements with the school end 60 days following the firing of the head coach — former coach Paul Chryst was fired Oct. 2 and that 60-day window ends Thursday.

Some of those questions will have answers before this weekend, but the Badgers will learn their bowl draw and opponent in the early afternoon Sunday.

UW is the Big Ten’s only six-win team, so it’s looking at the bottom of the barrel of the conference’s tie-in games. Here’s a look at the three most likely bowl games the Badgers could play in.

Guaranteed Rate Bowl

Time, date, location: 9:15 p.m. Dec. 27, Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona. Home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Big Ten is in its second year of once again having a tie-in with what originated as the Copper Bowl. UW won the last Copper Bowl in 1996, when freshman running back Ron Dayne exploded for 246 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a 38-10 victory over Utah. The Badgers led 31-3 at halftime.

This bowl has a tie-in with the Big 12 as well, which could produce some brand-name matchups for UW. Baylor, Kansas and Oklahoma all finished 6-6 in that league. Matching up with Dave Aranda and the Bears or Lance Leipold and the Jayhawks after each were in consideration for the UW job would add some intrigue to an otherwise afterthought bowl.

One downside would be a late Central time zone kickoff for the second straight bowl for the Badgers.

ESPN, The Athletic, and The Action Network all project UW to play in the desert.

Pinstripe Bowl

Time, date, location: 1 p.m. Dec. 29, Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York. Home of the New York Yankees.

How about this for recent history repeating itself?

The Badgers played in the Pinstripe Bowl back in 2018 after a regular season full of injuries and littered with disappointing losses after starting the year ranked fourth in the AP Top 25. UW smashed Miami 35-3, with sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor posting a 205-yard performance that pushed him over 2,000 yards for the season. Taylor was the Doak Walker Award winner that year.

That disappointing season led to a dedicated offseason and team leaders using it as fuel going into 2019. UW won the Big Ten West Division and came up just short of winning the Rose Bowl that season. With Fickell now in charge, UW’s looking for an upswing, and perhaps it’ll start again in New York.

CBS, Athlon Sports and 247Sports all project the Badgers to make a return to the house that replaced the house that Babe Ruth built.

Quick Lane Bowl

Time, date, location: 1:30 p.m. Dec. 26, Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan. Home of the Detroit Lions.

How strange that UW’s possible bowls played in a baseball stadium outnumber ones in a football stadium?

UW hasn’t been projected to the Quick Lane Bowl by any of the major outlets, but that could be because no Big Ten team plays in it despite the conference’s tie-in with the game. Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State are all projected to play in New Year’s Six bowls, so that takes away three of the conference’s eight bowl-eligible teams from the early bowls.

The league has tie-ins with seven non-NY6 bowls and only five teams to fill them. That math will likely lead to the Quick Lane Bowl taking a Group of Five program with a better record than UW’s or a 5-7 fill-in that’s deemed eligible.

A look back at the day Wisconsin football hired Luke Fickell

Wisconsin athletic director Chris McIntosh hired Luke Fickell to be the 31st coach of the football program.

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Luke Fickell, who made history at Cincinnati, said he believes in the Wisconsin job and alignment with the administration in his first public comments as Badgers coach.

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Chris McIntosh hiring Luke Fickell as Badgers football coach is another stunning move but a potentially great one for Wisconsin.

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BadgerExtra columnist Jim Polzin offers his thoughts on the Wisconsin Badgers deciding to hire Luke Fickell as their next football coach.

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Wisconsin has its next leader, and Luke Fickell needs to upgrade the roster, among several things he needs to prioritize.

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Luke Fickell was raised on Big Ten football as a player and coach. Here's what he brings as the Badgers' next coach.

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New Wisconsin Badgers football coach Luke Fickell arrives in Madison early Sunday evening.

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Luke Fickell was approved as Wisconsin football coach around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, and athletic director Chris McIntosh "couldn't be happier."

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The Badgers pick up a new football coach but lose a verbal commitment from a four-star recruit.

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A versatile defensive lineman decommitted from Wisconsin on Sunday. He was the second recruit to do so since the Badgers announced Luke Fickell's hiring.

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Chris McIntosh's decision to hire Luke Fickell as the next Wisconsin football coach came with mixed reactions from former and current Badgers.

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University of Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell will be the 31st coach of the Wisconsin football program. Columnist Jim Polzin took the pulse of B…

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Wisconsin football is finalizing a contract to hire Luke Fickell as its 31st football coach in program history. Here's a look back at Fickell'…

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Calling it a "home-run hire", the former Badgers AD confirmed Sunday that Luke Fickell will lead UW's football program.

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Key stats from Luke Fickell's career.

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