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Friday, January 30, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 15.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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Bowled over

There are 34 college football bowl games played between Dec. 19's New Mexico Bowl (Wyoming beat Fresno State, 35-28, in double overtime, in case you've been traveling in outer space) and Jan. 7, when Texas and Alabama face off for the national championship at the Rose Bowl stadium. Don't get that game confused with the actual Rose Bowl, which pits Ohio State against Oregon on Jan. 1.

For many Badger fans, bowl season means not just watching the Badgers, but rooting for despised rivals like Ohio State and Minnesota because a decent win total for Big Ten teams means more respect for the conference. Conference teams finished 1-6 last year, including Wisconsin's 42-13 loss to Florida State at the Champ's Sports Bowl in Orlando.

The 25th-ranked Badgers (9-3) will return to the scene of that humiliation on Tuesday, Dec. 29, when they face Miami (7 p.m., ESPN). The Sporting News says it's the 21st best matchup of the bowl season. The Badgers are three-point favorites, but just about every pundit is picking Miami. That includes ESPN's Pat Forde, who notes that the Hurricanes are 3-0 against nonconference teams playing in bowls, but the Badgers haven't beaten a team ranked in Sagarin's top-50 teams this year.

A win over the 15th-ranked Hurricanes (9-3) would provide Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema with some swagger as he goes on the recruiting trail. Miami doesn't face many teams with Wisconsin's size and passion for running the ball. The Badgers should win by at least a touchdown. Otherwise, expect an off-season filled with speculation about Bielema's future.

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