Badgers End Season with Win in Holiday Bowl
(CBSSports) Paul Chryst has dealt with injuries, a challenging season opener against Alabama and a pair of conference losses by 10 combined points but still managed to lead his alma mater to a 10-win season in his first year as Wisconsin's coach thanks to a 23-21 win against USC in the Holiday Bowl on Wednesday night in San Diego.
Wisconsin's defense was tremendous in the game, holding USC to a season-low 286 yards of offense and allowing USC to end its drives in Wisconsin territory just three times. While the Trojans scored touchdowns on all three of those opportunities, the Badgers rose to the occasion in the fourth quarter with three consecutive stops (three-and-out, interception, turnover on downs) to seal the win.
Story of the game: Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda got a lot of face time during the broadcast, and you'll continue to hear his name as the next hot defensive coordinator now that Kirby Smart, D.J. Durkin and Chris Ash have taken head coaching positions at Power Five schools. Aranda was a holdover from Gary Andersen's staff and has built one of the nation's stoutest defenses in just three years as the Badgers' defensive coordinator.
Player of the game: The honor has to go to the entire Wisconsin defense, but one player is worth highlighting in particular.
Jack Cichy didn't play in the first half because of a targeting call against Minnesota but he finished as the team's leading tackler with nine stops (six solo) and three sacks, all coming on the same drive, when his previous game high was two. Cichy also had a quarterback hurry on Cody Kessler's interception in the fourth quarter, which was the only turnover of the game for either team.
Highlight of the game: Wisconsin wide receiver Robert Wheelwright made his return from injury -- a broken fibula, to be specific -- in the bowl game and did so in impressive fashion. The junior wide receiver hauled in four catches for 47 yards, but none more impressive than this snag.