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Wisconsin football heading to the desert for its bowl game

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The University of Wisconsin football team will face an opponent it’s never seen before in its bowl matchup.

The Badgers (6-6) will play Oklahoma State (7-5) in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl at 9:15 p.m. Dec. 27 at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. The game will be televised on ESPN.

UW’s season ending in a bowl for the 21st consecutive season was in doubt until the home stretch. A 2-3 start, the firing of former coach Paul Chryst on Oct. 2 and losses at Michigan State and Iowa had UW needing one win in its last two games to become bowl eligible.

A last-minute touchdown finished a comeback at Nebraska to secure a bowl trip, but a loss to Minnesota in the regular-season finale left the Badgers as the only six-win Big Ten team.

UW hasn't yet announced who will coach the bowl came. Luke Fickell was hired as the team's new coach a week ago, but former interim coach Jim Leonhard and his assistants could take the lead for the bowl game. 

"I'm really excited for this opportunity for our players," Fickell said in a release. "Oklahoma State is a great program and I have tremendous respect for coach (Mike) Gundy and his staff. Bowl games are great rewards for players and staff and I can't wait to start our preparation."

UW is 18-15 in bowl games, with a 7-1 mark since 2015. UW Athletics donors and football season ticket holders have an exclusive window to request tickets until noon Monday. Requests are to be made online or by calling UW's ticket office. Student season ticket holders can buy tickets online from 7-9 p.m. Monday, or until supplies last. All other ticket purchases open Tuesday. 

The Badgers have never had an official bowl opt-out, but a couple of regular rotation players are already known to not be available against the Cowboys. Senior cornerback Justin Clark was injured on a tackle against Nebraska and ruled out for the season before the Minnesota game, and senior offensive lineman Tyler Beach has begun training for his attempt to play in the NFL. Beach has been used primarily as a blocking tight end in six-offensive-linemen packages the second half of the season after opening the season as the starting left guard.

Gundy, Oklahoma State's 18-year coach, and the Cowboys had high aspirations this season, peaking at seventh in the AP Top 25 poll. But four losses over the final five weeks of the regular season sunk the team hopes of a return trip to the New Year Six bowls.

The Big Ten is in its second year of once again having a tie-in with the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, which 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.

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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Key stats from Luke Fickell's career.

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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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