Following the announcement that the Wisconsin Badgers (8-4 overall, 6-3 Big Ten) would be facing off against the Arizona State Sun Devils (8-4 overall, 6-3 Pac-12) in the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl, head coach Paul Chryst and senior linebacker Jack Sanborn joined a Zoom call with the media to discuss their initial thoughts on the bowl berth.
“Obviously we’re excited to find out we’re playing in Vegas, and playing against Arizona State,” Chryst said. “Just right now, certainly just know the season, the record they had, looking forward to learning more about them, as I have always said, this group and this team is every bit appreciative that we have earned the right to play another game, I am looking forward to getting going with this team and in the bowl prep and having an opportunity to play one more game together and obviously as I said, against what looks to be a good Arizona State team.”
While Wisconsin’s season ended sooner than it would have liked, Wisconsin, who rattled off a seven-game win streak after starting the season 1-3, and has an opportunity to end the season with a win, as they have done in six of the last seven bowl games.
“I think it will mean a ton to them (ending the season with a win), we had a team meeting last Monday and you know, you get a quick sense then that the season’s not over and obviously the regular season did not end the way we would have liked it,” Chryst said. “But I go back to this group, really does enjoy each other, they care about each other, and you we got one game that we can play in, one more opportunity and I think for all those reasons, it means a lot to them.”
Sanborn, who finished second on the team with 88 tackles (43 solo), echoed Chryst’s sentiments about how much the team cares for one another and talked about how whether there was any cause for concern, given the team coming up short of its goal of playing in the Big Ten Championship game.
“I am not really worried, I think we’re going to respond just like every game and I think it just speaks to this program and this team, how much everyone cares for each other and has love for this team and this program,” said Sanborn. “I’m expecting us to perform and work hard in the bowl prep and get ready for Arizona State and make the trip a memorable one.”
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Sanborn also spoke about how the team had an early bye week this season, and now gets a couple of weeks to get healthy before the Las Vegas Bowl.
“I think that plays into it, I mean we had a stretch of I don’t know what it was, like nine straight weeks or ten straight weeks of football, and playing at this high of of a level, you’re going to be banged up throughout the season, I think that definitely played a roll, but you know my mindset is you’d rather be banged up late in the season than not,” Sanborn said. “But I think everyone would have liked to have been playing in the Big Ten Championship, instead of getting that week off, but it is what it is, and there’s an opportunity for more guys to get healthy and to continue to get healthy.”
Wisconsin and Arizona State will kick off at 9:30 PM CT on ESPN on Dec. 30.