In mere hours, the Wisconsin Badgers (9-3, 6-2) will learn their bowl destination as well as their last opponent of the 2015 season on Sunday.
Under the first year of head coach Paul Chryst, injuries to junior running back Corey Clement and an already inexperienced offensive line hampered its stereotypical physical running game, but a defense that leads the nation in scoring defense kept the Badgers in each game outside of the season-opening loss to Alabama.
Their strength of schedule inside the Big Ten Conference was not impressive, especially with Nebraska going into a tailspin under first-year head coach Mike Riley and no Ohio State, Michigan or Michigan State in 2015 (that's next year). Despite the injuries to key contributors and working through an at-times anemic offense, the Badgers rolled to nine wins, with being one goal line fumble and an interpretation of what is or is not a catch away from being being a one-loss team.
Here's where many predict the Badgers will land in the 2015 bowl season:
B5Q writers believe Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30
From our roundtable last Sunday, four of our writers believe San Diego, Calif., will be the destination against a Pac-12 school:
Neal Olson: Nearly all signs point to Wisconsin heading west to the Holiday Bowl against a Pac 12 team. Honestly, it's a nice change from playing a SEC team in Tampa/Orlando and the tired story line of plodding Big Ten versus powerhouse SEC. Playing a traditional blue blood like USC or UCLA is always fun. Or it would be fun to see how defensive coordinator Dave Aranda does with this defense against the Air Raid offense in Washington State. Clearly, I am ready for some non-SEC bowl matchups.
Maxwell Brusky: The "loss" against Northwestern (yep, still pissed) may have taken the Badgers out of contention for a New Year's Six bowl game, but that was probably still a long shot. Even if Jazz Peavy's touchdown stood, it was highly unlikely that the Big Ten would send Wisconsin back to Florida for a third straight year. With the Badgers and Michigan at 9-3, and four conference teams at 10-2 or better, the Citrus or Outback are now certainly out of the picture, leaving the Holiday in San Diego as a virtual lock. Again agreeing with Neal, a Pac-12 matchup is intriguing and should be fun to watch. Not only should there be no shame in the assignment, the game and the circumstances may turn out to be better anyway, in much the same way the Champs Sports in 2009 turned out to be.
Kyle Vos: The others have handled this one pretty well; all signs point to the Holiday Bowl. This might seem lackluster, and, let's face it, it kind of is, but the Pac-12 has a lot of very fun options, as Neal pointed out. It sounds like the two likely options are Utah and Washington State, both of which should provide the Badgers with a good test.
Owen Riese: Everyone else has said it, the Holiday Bowl is the likely destination. It'll be a nice change of pace to go to San Diego rather than Tampa, Orlando, or Pasadena (not like I'm complaining). The Pac-12 is usually an interesting conference, with some non-traditional matchups. Washington State would be a very intriguing matchup, as would Utah, despite their polar opposite offensive philosophies.
SBNation.com -- Holiday Bowl vs. Washington State, Dec. 30
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's defense, which has held opponents to 13.1 points per game and 169.2 yards per game passing, taking on Mike Leach offense that averages 397.2 yards through the air -- which leads the FBS? It'd be an interesting test for a defensive squad that's carried the team this season.
FoxSports.com -- Holiday Bowl vs. USC, Dec. 30
The Badgers facing one of the "blue bloods" of college football, who lost 41-22 in the Pac-12 championship game to Stanford on Saturday, would be a fun test for Chryst's team. (note: Steward Mandel made these picks prior to Saturday's game)
ESPN.com -- Holiday Bowl vs. USC, Dec. 30
Both Mark Schlabach and Brett McMurphy project the Badgers and Trojans to meet in southern California.
Phil Steele -- Holiday Bowl vs. Oregon, Dec. 30
A rematch of the 2012 Rose Bowl, the Ducks finished 9-3 with six consecutive wins after losing in two overtimes to Washington State on Oct. 10 (updated on Dec. 5).
Sports Illustrated --Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl vs. Florida, Jan. 1
Updated on Dec. 3, SI believes the Badgers and Gators will meet in Orlando -- sending Wisconsin to its third straight Florida bowl. It'd definitely be a defensive battle between the two teams.