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Western Michigan's dream season ends with Cotton Bowl loss to Wisconsin

03 January 2017

Once Western Michigan had finally grabbed the momentum in the fourth quarter of the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, it was a trio of non-senior Badgers who prevented P.J. Fleck's crew from completing the comeback and finishing the season undefeated.

Western Michigan's defense tightened up thereafter, and the Broncos (13-1) slowly began chipping away at the deficit.

Western Michigan: WR Corey Davis, 91 catches, 1,427 yards, 18 TDs receiving; QB Zach Terrell, 3,376 yards, 32 TDs passing, three interceptions; 236 yards, six TDs rushing.

The Broncos made their living this season on turnover margin, and in the end, it was one of their turnovers that ruined the day.

The Broncos couldn't get another stop and Wisconsin ran out the clock.

The Big Ten's best victory of the bowl season - pending the result of Monday's tilt between Penn State and Southern California in the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual - didn't come easy against the previously unbeaten MAC champion Broncos, who featured the dynamic duo of Terrell and consensus All-American wide receiver Corey Davis. Wisconsin threw the ball just 14 times compared to 38 runs, and when it did, the junior tight end was making plays all over the field.

Western Michigan's dream season ends with Cotton Bowl loss to Wisconsin

Fumagalli, who had a finger amputated days after birth because of a medical condition, made a key one-handed catch on Wisconsin's first scoring drive.

During its opening, two-touchdown onslaught, Wisconsin averaged 7.6 yards a carry rushing, though Western Michigan tightened rushing lanes by sending a defensive back up to the line. Running back Dare Ogunbowale had a 20-yard run that set himself up for a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Badgers a 14-0 lead with 3:23 to play in the first quarter.

The Badgers went 75 yards on 11 plays in 6 minutes, 13 seconds, doing whatever it wanted in the run game.

Wisconsin worked its way into WMU territory on the ensuing drive, but was held to a field goal, making it 17-7 at halftime. Watt stuffed the stat line with four tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, one pass breakup, one quarterback hurry and one forced fumble. That pass was picked off by Badgers linebacker T.J. Edwards (a former WMU commit), giving UW great field position. Three plays later, Hornibrook found Fumagalli in the back of the endzone for an 8-yard touchdown pass to push Wisconsin's lead to 24-10. But there was little the Broncos could do about the athletic 6-foot-6 tight end.

Western Michigan rowed the boat all the way to the Cotton Bowl, but once they arrived, their boat hit some solid rocks.

Having to sit around almost a month following the bitter loss in the Big Ten championship game, Wisconsin's players weren't anxious about matching the motivation and intensity of the MAC champions trying to prove they belonged.

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Western Michigan's dream season ends with Cotton Bowl loss to Wisconsin