The Big Ten finally joins the postseason party Tuesday as Wisconsin gets the first crack at repairing the league's national reputation. The 25th-ranked Badgers head back to Orlando to face No. 15 Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET).
Here's a quick look at the game:
WHO TO WATCH: John Clay. The Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Year could be the difference maker in this game. The ACC has some good running backs, but few possess the size-power-speed combination of the 6-1, 248-pound Clay. When Clay stays on the field and holds onto the football, Wisconsin is extremely tough to beat. Running behind a typically huge offensive line, Clay has racked up 100 rushing yards or more in each of his last five games. He has scored three touchdowns in three separate games but faces a stout Miami defense ranked 28th nationally against the run. Clay needs 104 rush yards in the bowl to become just the second sophomore in team history to reach 1,500 rush yards.
WHAT TO WATCH: Wisconsin defensive end O'Brien Schofield facing Miami left tackle Orlando Franklin. No one has consistently slowed down Schofield, who is tied for second nationally in tackles for loss (22.5) to go along with 10 sacks. Franklin is filling in for team MVP Jason Fox, and while the junior has all the tools to transition well, he could struggle to contain Schofield's speed. Schofield is your standard speed rusher, and his ability to pressure Hurricanes quarterback Jacory Harris will set the tone for the Badgers' defense.
WHY TO WATCH: As Big Ten fans, you've waited longer than anyone else for the bowl season to begin. Also, it's a chance to see how much Wisconsin has improved in a year. The Badgers stumbled over themselves in an ugly loss to Florida State in the 2008 Champs Sports Bowl. Players and coaches insist this is a different team, and the improved record (9-3) bears that out. Still, Wisconsin lacks a signature win and could gain a huge boost for 2010 by beating Miami.
PREDICTION: Miami's team speed will be a challenge, but Wisconsin should be able to generate pressure with Schofield and J.J. Watt. The Badgers strike a balance on offense with Clay's power running and the play-action passing game, and rally in the second half for the upset. Wisconsin wins, 27-24.