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UW coach Paul Chryst has produced a 5-1 record in bowl games during his tenure.

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University of Wisconsin football coach Paul Chryst speaks to the media after the 18th-ranked Badgers fell to the Minnesota Golden Gophers 23-13 in the Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

After playing 10 games in 10 weeks, the University of Wisconsin football team got a break it didn’t want last week.

By falling to archrival Minnesota in the regular-season finale, UW lost not only Paul Bunyan’s Axe, but a chance to play in the Big Ten Conference Championship Game. Still, UW used the week to get its coaches on the road recruiting and give its players some rest.

That time off is just about over after Sunday’s announcement that the Badgers’ 20-season bowl game streak will continue against Arizona State in the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl at 9:30 p.m. Dec. 30 at Allegiant Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.

UW will get back in the weight room this week and return to the practice field this weekend, coach Paul Chryst said, prepping for the Sun Devils and the program’s first trip to the Las Vegas Bowl.

“You have so much time, especially after the season, just to take time to reflect, take time to almost clear your mind, get away from it all for a little bit,” senior inside linebacker Jack Sanborn said. “Then be ready when you go back into it to get right back into it.”

The Badgers have a 1-3 record against Arizona State, but have never played the Sun Devils in a bowl game. The teams last played in 2013 in Tempe when the No. 20 Badgers fell 32-30. UW will be the first Big Ten team to play in the Las Vegas Bowl, which began a rotation with Big Ten and SEC teams in 2020.

Season-ticket holders and donors have the first crack at tickets to the game, and they can request them on UW’s bowl website (UWBowlCentral.com) or by calling the ticket office until noon Monday. Student season ticket holders can purchase tickets online starting at 7 p.m. Monday. All other ticket sales begin at noon Tuesday.

Chryst is 5-1 in bowl games as UW’s coach, and UW has a 5-6 record against Pac-12 teams in bowl games.

“I think it’ll mean a ton to them,” Chryst said regarding ending the year with a win. “We had a team meeting last Monday and you get a quick sense then that the season’s not over. The regular season didn’t end the way we’d like, but I go back to this group truly does enjoy each other and they care about each other. We’ve got one game we can play, one more opportunity.”

Fans will remember the Badgers’ 2013 trip to Tempe to play the Sun Devils as a controversial ending gave UW and first-year coach Gary Andersen their first loss of the season.

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With 18 seconds remaining and the Badgers trailing by two, quarterback Joel Stave took a snap from under center and took a few steps to his left and quickly took a knee to end the play and center the ball for an attempt at a winning field goal. Stave set the ball on the ground after taking the knee, and the referees waited to spot the ball while an Arizona State player jumped on what he thought was a live ball.

The clock was running as things got sorted out and the Badgers ran out of time to spike the ball and try the field goal.

Arizona State (8-4) had an up-and-down season with significant wins over UCLA, Southern Cal and Arizona, but two-score losses against Oregon State, Washington State and eventual Pac-12 champion Utah. Led by former NFL coach Herm Edwards, Arizona State went 2-2 last season but tallied its second eight-win season under Edwards this year.

It’s the Sun Devils’ second trip to the Las Vegas Bowl after falling to Fresno State in 2018.

Edwards won’t have his top offensive threat after senior Rachaad White announced he’d be skipping the team’s bowl game to begin NFL draft prep. He tallied 1,006 yards and 15 touchdowns rushing and 43 catches, 456 yards and a touchdown receiving.

Chryst said that the Badgers’ offense must improve in order for UW to win a bowl game. The Badgers had 233 total yards against Minnesota and were held to field goals on both occasions they reached the red zone.

“You’ve got to be more efficient,” Chryst said. “When you’re in the red zone, you’ve got to score points and touchdowns and give yourself more opportunities. You’ve got to be better on third down. We didn’t run the ball very effectively, consistently in that game. We missed some opportunities.”

UW has had some luck lately in Las Vegas — the men’s basketball team won the Maui Invitational there in November and the football team has won its past four games in Las Vegas, with the last one coming in 2010.

“We are very excited to be the inaugural Big Ten team to play in the Las Vegas Bowl,” UW athletic director Chris McIntosh said in a release. “Our fans have a great tradition of support in Vegas, even as recently as a couple weeks ago when our men’s basketball team won the Maui Invitational. Allegiant Stadium is a tremendous venue and I know our players will have a great bowl experience.”

This article originally ran on madison.com.


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