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Badger Bits: Underclassmen look ahead to 2011

Well, saying that game hurt would be an understatement. Not exactly the way I thought the Badgers would ring in the new year, but the show must go on. Anyway, here are the first Badger Bits of 2011!

Despite the disappointing 21-19 loss to TCU in the Rose Bowl, several players on the Wisconsin football team are looking ahead to next year, according to Mike Lucas of UWBadgers.com. With several key play-makers and senior leaders having played their final game at Wisconsin, it's clear that younger players will need to step up next season.

Offensive lineman Ricky Wagner is one player that is expected to take on extra responsibility. With Outland Trophy winner Gabe Carimi headed to the NFL, Wagner is expected to move over to the left side and try to fill Carimi's large shoes. Wide receiver Nick Toon confirmed on his Twitter page that he will return for his senior season, and junior safety Aaron Henry spoke with Lucas about learning from Saturday's loss.

"I know the guys who are leaving are upset, and mad and frustrated. We’ve got guys coming back, like myself, who are just anxious to learn from that loss. I’m definitely looking forward to next season and being the leader they expect me to be ... Our seniors this year did a tremendous job. I know the shoes are going to be big, but I  look forward to wearing them. Hopefully we can put ourselves in a great position again next year."

More Badger Bits after the jump!

I know it may be hard to stomach, but here are some recaps of the Rose Bowl:

Tom Mulhern of Madison.com writes that the Badgers' late touchdown drive was too little too late in the Rose Bowl.

Andy Baggot of Madison.com comments that the success of the Wisconsin running backs was mostly hollow on Saturday.

Mulhern also asks the inevitable question: was a running play a better option during the two-point conversion?

Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel opines that the Rose Bowl left the team with more questions than answers.

Here's a video of JJ Watt and Bret Bielema after the Rose Bowl. Be careful, though. The video is a tear-jerker.

Mulhern also says that Bielema needs to bid farewell to a special recruiting class.

And in case you weren't aware, there were other Badger sports going on this weekend. The men's hockey team completed a sweep of the UMass Minutemen on Friday. Also, Madison.com has a brief re-cap of the Badgers' 69-61 loss to Illinois in men's basketball.

I hope everyone had a great New Years despite the loss on Saturday- make sure to keep coming back to Bucky's 5th Quarter in 2011!