Cotton Bowl grades: Wisconsin serves Western Michigan first loss

Wisconsin's rushing attack did enough to hold off previously undefeated Western Michigan Monday.

| 5 months ago
(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Cotton Bowl grades: Wisconsin serves Western Michigan first loss

Wisconsin Badgers 24, Western Michigan Broncos 16

Here are the top-graded players and top takeaways from Wisconsin’s 24-16 Cotton Bowl victory over Western Michigan:

Wisconsin Badgers

Quarterback grade: Bart Houston, 69.3

Houston offers steady hand in win

Badgers quarterback Bart Houston completed 11 of his 12 pass attempts (1 drop) for 159 yards. Houston was only pressured twice and was sacked on both of those drop backs. Houston completed 2-of-3 pass attempts down the field of 20 yards or more, with his drop occurring on a deeper pass attempt. Houston used play action effectively, finishing 5-of-5 for 88 yards. Backup quarterback Alex Hornibrook completed both of his pass attempts, including an out route in the back of the end zone for a touchdown to TE Troy Fumagalli.


Top offensive grades:

TE Troy Fumagalli, 93.1
T Ryan Ramczyk, 80.2
WR George Rushing, 71.2
C Michael Deiter, 69.7
QB Bart Houston, 69.3

Fumagalli delivers in Cotton Bowl victory

Tight end Troy Fumagalli hauled in 6 catches for 57 yards including a beautiful one-handed grab via a skinny post route on the first possession of the game. Fumagalli added a leaping touchdown reception along with the game-clinching third-down catch on Wisconsin’s final drive. Wisconsin power-blocking scheme was executed flawlessly at times. The Badgers rushed for 194 yards on 35 attempts with only 59 yards coming after contact. Wisconsin’s rushing attacked mixed jet sweep runs on the perimeter with their patented downhill gap-blocking schemes to great success against the undersized Western Michigan defense.

Top defensive grades:

ED T.J. Watt, 84.2
LB T.J. Edwards, 74.7
DI Alec James, 74.6
DI Chikwe Obasih, 74.2
CB Sojourn Shelton, 73.8

Wisconsin defense makes plays in win

Wisconsin’s defense turned in a solid performance against an explosive Western Michigan offense. Rushing off the edge, T.J. Watt produced a sack and 2 hits. Wisconsin LB T.J. Edwards grabbed an interception and forced 2 stops in run defense while DT Chikwe Obasih generated a sack and QB hit rushing from the interior. Wisconsin forced several fumbles but were unable to recover them. The Badgers defense played well as a unit in the Cotton Bowl victory.

Western Michigan Broncos

Quarterback grade: Zach Terrell, 56.1

Terrell has a tough day

Broncos QB Zach Terrell completed 16 of his 28 pass attempts for 155 yards with a touchdown and interception. Terrell had 3 passes dropped and was sacked twice. He completed 2 of his 4 pass attempts under pressure for 14 yards. Terrell was 3-of-6 on pass attempts off of play action for 41 yards. Terrell threw an interception via a coverage misread on a post route intended for his tight end.

Top offensive grades:

WR Corey Davis, 78.4
T Taylor Moton, 75.1
G Luke Juriga, 69.1
WR Carrington Thompson, 67.3
TE, Odell Miller, 66.6

Western Michigan offense fails to find rhythm

Western Michigan star receiver Corey Davis had 6 receptions for 73 yards and an impressive touchdown reception from Terrell to give the Broncos hope late in the fourth quarter. Davis was unable to break loose down the field and Western Michigan’s offense never found its rhythm. PFF’s ninth-highest-graded tackle Taylor Moton turned in a solid performance in his last game. RB Jarvion Franklin produced 27 yards after contact on his 6 rushing attempts up the middle.


Top defensive grades:

ED Keion Adams, 73.6
DI Nathan Braster, 71.8
LB Asantay Brown, 69.4
CB Davontae Ginwright, 68.9
CB Sam Beal, 52.3

Western Michigan defense struggles with Badgers rushing attack.

Rush LB Keion Adams produced some nice plays defeating blocks in run defense with 2 stops. Broncos DT Nathan Braster also forced 2 stops in the interior against the run. Western Michigan was undersized against the Badgers offensive line and struggled at times with stopping an elite power running team they had not seen during the season.

| Analyst

Taylor is an offensive line and run-game specialist at Pro Football Focus. He has coached at every level of college football, with experience at Mississippi Gulf Coast, Central Missouri, and Wyoming.

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