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RECAP: Wisconsin defeats Oklahoma State 24-17 to win Guaranteed Rate Bowl.

The Badgers overcame a late push from the Cowboys to finish their season with a win.

The Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Oklahoma State Cowboys 24-17 in new head coach Luke Fickell’s first game and defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard’s last game with the team, ending their season at 7-6.

With several coaching changes expected at the end of the season, it was a nice send-off for the previous regime, which the players clearly felt as they showered Leonhard with Gatorade as the game ended.

Quarterback Chase Wolf earned his first career start for the Badgers, and led the team to an early field goal drive after the defense forced a quick punt.

Wolf impressed on the initial drive with a well-placed ball to the outside for Dean Engram inside the redzone, but the wideout dropped the pass, forcing Wisconsin to settle for a field goal.

Wolf made his biggest mistake of the first half on the ensuing drive, eying down a deep crosser that safety Trey Rucker easily intercepted, costing the Badgers another touchdown opportunity.

However, the redshirt senior completed 11/13 passes to finish the half, including a 15-yard Hayden Rucci touchdown pass to keep the Badgers at a 17-7 lead entering the half.

While his footwork was inconsistent, Wolf made a variety of throws at different arm angles, while maneuvering with his feet to create plays.

The running game was significant in the first half, as the Badgers rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown on 6.2 yards per carry, with the halfbacks correctly identifying lanes, while the offensive line consistently created holes.

Speaking of the offensive line, Wisconsin’s front five kept Wolf with clean pockets throughout the first half, while operating well in the running game, despite left guard Michael Furtney departing for a short period due to an injury.

Defensively, Wisconsin was dominant for the most part, forcing six punts, while letting Oklahoma State have the ball for just 6:50 in the first half.

The Badgers’ only defensive blunder came on an 84-yard touchdown to Stephon Johnson off a screen pass, where several defenders missed tackles and took poor angles to the wideout, allowing for an easy score.

Apart from the one play, Wisconsin allowed just 1.76 yards per play on Oklahoma State’s 21 other offensive opportunities, picking up where they left off defensively, despite the loss of several starters.

The Badgers held freshman quarterback Garrett Rangel to just 5/14 passing, while holding the Cowboys to 11 yards rushing on eight attempts.

Wolf began the second half with another nice throw, finding Skyler Bell deep on a well-placed ball, forcing a pass interference call.

However, a drop from Bell and a sack on consecutive plays derailed the drive, forcing Wisconsin to punt after entering Oklahoma State territory.

Wolf went just 1/5 in the third quarter, including a strip-sack fumble where he was hit by a free rusher, but the Badgers were able to compile a scoring drive after the defense intercepted Rangel.

Chimere Dike took an end-around for a first down and Braelon Allen capped the quick two-play, 32-yard drive with a 20-yard rushing touchdown, earning solid blocks from Tanor Bortolini and his left guard.

The offensive line continued to play well, creating holes in the running game, although it wasn’t met with as much success in the third quarter as Oklahoma State sold out against the run to a greater extent with the dissipating passing attack.

However, the defense remained as stout as their first-half performance, taking the life out of Oklahoma State’s offense with three 3-and-outs, as well as an interception on their first four drives of the half.

The Cowboys managed just 50 yards of total offense in the third quarter, but gained some momentum as the period came to an end, reaching their own 47-yard line with a new set of downs.

Oklahoma State came out swinging to begin the fourth, though, as Garrett Rangel found Brennan Presley for a deep 41-yard completion with Avyonne Jones in coverage to set up 1st & Goal.

After Wisconsin managed three consecutive stops, Rangel delivered with a shovel pass to Ollie Gordon on a busted play as the quarterback was being tackled, cutting the lead to 24-14 with under 13 minutes left.

The Badgers struggled offensively with a quick three-and-out, providing Oklahoma State another offensive opportunity, where they compiled a 13-play, 69-yard, 6:06-minute field goal drive to decrease the deficit to seven points with 5:03 remaining.

The Cowboys overcame adversity, converting three first downs off third downs on the drives, including a 3rd & 14 off a busted coverage, after beginning the game 0/13 on third down conversions.

The defense held up deep in their territory, forcing Oklahoma State to resort to a field goal, but the damage was done, as the Badgers led by just seven points.

Tensions increased on the following drive, as Wisconsin’s Chase Wolf failed to convert a third down conversion to a wide-open Chimere Dike off a play-action, hesitating before making a throw, which was batted down, giving the Cowboys an opportunity to tie the game.

But, defensive back Cedrick Dort Jr. delivered for the Badgers, beautifully shadowing his receiver’s route for a potential game-sealing interception with 2:51 remaining.

Still, Wisconsin needed to convert one first down, as Oklahoma State still possessed all three of their timeouts, and faced a 2nd & 12 after a tackle for loss on the first play of the drive.

However, just as he did on the previous drive with the play for Dike, offensive coordinator Bobby Engram delivered an excellent playcall, and it was executed to perfection, as Skyler Bell ran for 44 yards on a well-blocked end-around to seal the game.

Wisconsin ended up with the 24-17 win over Oklahoma State to end their season with a positive record, sending off the previous regime with a final win, while beginning the Luke Fickell era on a positive note.

Chase Wolf encountered his ups-and-downs, completing 16/26 passes for 116 yards, one touchdown, and an interception, but faced several drops from receivers on well-placed balls.

The running game and offensive line were the highlights of the day, as Wisconsin ran for 258 yards and two touchdowns on 47 attempts, dominating at the line of scrimmage, which was Luke Fickell’s objective for the bowl game.

The front five for Wisconsin displayed excellent run-blocking, especially in the first half, which created several chunk plays for the offense en route to scoring opportunities.

The Badgers dominated time of possession, earning 15:46 more on offense, which helped dictate game pace and provide them with a lead that they were able to sustain for the majority of the game.

Defensively, the Badgers were fairly strong, holding quarterback Garrett Rangel to 14/31 passing, 229 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.

However, they gave up some explosive plays that kept Oklahoma State in the game until the end in a mixed performance on Tuesday.

Still, they did enough, holding the Cowboys to 17 points and just two yards per carry to lead the Badgers to victory, despite the loss of several key players.

In comes the new regime for Wisconsin, which has already experienced significant change with new coaching staff hires and several big-time recruits, and they began on a positive note with the win in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl to finish the 2022 season.