Cotton Bowl Classic: Western Michigan Broncos vs. Wisconsin Badgers

Can Western Michigan make it close against Wisconsin? (2:00)

Danny Kanell, Mark May and Todd McShay share their expectations for when Wisconsin faces Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl. (2:00)

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Western Michigan Broncos vs. Wisconsin Badgers

Date: Jan. 2, 1 p.m. ET on ESPN

Location: AT&T Stadium | Arlington, Texas

Western Michigan

Best moment: Despite the 11-0 start and the College GameDay visit, beating Toledo to punch its ticket to the MAC Championship was no sure thing for Western Michigan. A pick-six from Asantay Brown on the first play of the season finale had Waldo Stadium rocking and got P.J. Fleck’s team off to the full-throttle start it needed to finish an unbeaten regular season.

Lowest moment: Not much shakes the incessant positivity of Fleck and his team, but the closest to a down moment this season probably came when Kent State returned a fumble for a touchdown and opened up a 14-0 lead over the Broncos in early November. They bounced back, scoring the final 16 points of the game and securing the first 10-win season in school history.

Key player: No player in FBS history has more receiving yards that Western Michigan wideout Corey Davis. The future NFL pass-catcher is a focal point for the Broncos’ air attack. He is also part of a senior class that bought into Fleck’s unorthodox leadership style and helped build the unique culture that launched a mediocre Group of 5 program into a team that's capable of challenging college football’s traditional powers.

Motivation level: High. Fleck’s energy could get most folks fired up about filing taxes while visiting the dentist, but that probably won’t be necessary this month. A third win against a Power 5 team -- the Broncos beat two Big Ten teams in September -- will make this a team to remember for a long time to come. -- Dan Murphy


Best moment: There are so many games from which to choose, but Wisconsin's 23-17 overtime victory against Nebraska on Oct. 29 was huge. It represented the Badgers' third win against a top-10 team this season and gave them a chance to win the Big Ten West. It also helped soothe the team after Wisconsin lost an overtime game two weeks earlier to Ohio State.

Lowest moment: Losing 30-23 at home in overtime to Ohio State on Oct. 15 was difficult for Badgers players to accept. They had largely outplayed the Buckeyes and led the game in the fourth quarter. It marked Wisconsin's second consecutive loss and dropped the Badgers to 1-2 in Big Ten play.

Key player: Running back Corey Clement has been a workhorse and leads the team in rushing yards and touchdowns. Although his yards-per-carry average is down from earlier in his career, he has willingly taken the load for tough yards to keep the chains moving. Defensively, linebacker T.J. Watt has wreaked havoc on opponents and paces the Badgers in sacks and tackles for loss.

Motivation level: High. Wisconsin has put together a season few pundits, if anybody, saw coming. The Badgers were picked to finish third in the Big Ten West, and a 7-5 season didn't seem unreasonable given such a tough schedule. The more Wisconsin wins, the more special the season becomes. -- Jesse Temple