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BY MIKE LUCAS Senior Writer


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — D'Cota Dixon will be going back to where it really all began for him. Corey Clement will be going back to take care of some unfinished business.

Along with their Wisconsin teammates, Dixon and Clement will be going back to AT&T Stadium — deep in the heart of Texas — to mend a broken one at the Cotton Bowl Classic.

After losing to Penn State in the Big Ten Championship Game Saturday night, a heartbreaking 38-31 loss, the Badgers will be going back to their season-long blueprint: team unity and resilience.

"This journey isn't done yet for this team," stressed outside linebacker Vince Biegel.

Wisconsin has drawn an unbeaten opponent. Maybe it's not the one (Alabama) that fans had fantasized that they would draw, but Western Michigan (13-0) is deserving of its New Year's Six inclusion.

The Badgers must now prove they want to be there after setting their sights on winning the conference title and potentially going back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2013.

"I'm pretty sure this team loves competition," Clement wagered. "Whatever we're up against, we're willing to forget about the past and just focus on the now."

As far as not dwelling on the loss to the Nittany Lions, he added, "This one is definitely in the past now. We know that we have one more guaranteed game and we have to make the most out of it."

That was echoed by one Wisconsin player after another. Build. Don't tear down.

"This (Penn State) game is a waste if we don't learn from it and come back and work harder," said inside linebacker Ryan Connelly, who acknowledged feeling a little numb. He wasn't alone.

"Everyone was kind of frustrated. Everyone was consoling everyone. The theme was, 'It's a tough loss, but let's try and keep our heads up, let's keep our pride.'

"Everyone has been saying — and it's kind of our motto — we've worked too hard this year to let one loss define our season. Everyone wants to end the season with a bowl win no matter what."

There was a reality to what happened Saturday night. And, that is, over time, it happens to everyone. It was just so unexpected the way it happened to one of the best defenses in college football.

"Football is one of those games where you can have the highest of highs and the lowest of lows and tonight it just didn't work out in our favor," said Dixon in a voice barely above a whisper.

"Now, you have to have the courage in this situation to look at the film and go over the corrections and understand the corrections and the mistakes and what we could have done better."

The Cotton Bowl Classic provides a stage for redemption.


Photo: Wisconsin Badgers

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