JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald file photoThis time it will be in December, not January, and against the ACC, not the SEC, but the Wisconsin football team is headed back to the state of Florida for the fifth-straight time and school-record seventh consecutive bowl game. Sunday, UW head coach Bret Bielema officially accepted an invitation to the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, where Wisconsin (7-5, 3-5 Big Ten) will face the Seminoles of Florida State (8-4, 5-3 ACC) Dec. 27.“I actually received a phone call, the official invitation, with about five to 10 minutes left in practice,” Bielema told members of the media Sunday night in a press conference. “The [players] saw me talking, and when they heard me say, ‘Florida State,’ they were very excited about the opportunity.”The Seminoles are led by the ageless Bobby Bowden, who is currently second behind Penn State’s Joe Paterno as the all-time winningest coach in Football Bowl Subdivision history and has a pair of national championships on his r?sum?. Bielema remembers meeting Bowden when Bielema was a graduate assistant at Iowa at age 22.“I got on an elevator and met coach Bowden, shook his hand,” Bielema said. “I’m sure he doesn’t remember that, back almost 16 years ago.“Just the awe of being around him, the legend that he is,” he continued. “To be able to have an opportunity now to play against one of his teams is something that’s special for me as a head coach.”In only his third season as Wisconsin’s head coach, Bielema will have coached against both Paterno (age 81) and Bowden (79), something that hasn’t been done since Virginia’s Al Groh in 2002. And as the their respective careers wind down, it may never happen again.“[To withstand] the test of time, to be where they are is a great tribute to who they are as coaches, as well as the assistant coaches they’ve been able to keep,” Bielema noted.Five weeks ago, the Badgers fell below .500 to 4-5 following a crushing last-second loss on the road at Michigan State. At that point, a postseason appearance seemed like a long shot. But after beating Indiana, Minnesota and Cal Poly to close the regular season, Wisconsin became bowl eligible (six wins) and will once again find itself in the Sunshine State this winter. And in terms of recruiting, the extra weeks of preparation bode as a huge advantage for the program’s future success.“We’ll open up our practices to recruits to view our practices,” Bielema said. “Also, the exposure … the bowl practices allow you to showcase your program that much more.”In a season labeled by most (including themselves) as disappointing, Wisconsin now has a chance to finish with a four-game win streak and end the season on a high note.“From my standpoint, it’s an opportunity to have one more game,” Bielema said. “Every game we try to win. We’ll prepare as hard and intense as we have. I’ve really been challenging my coaches this week to begin their preparations on Florida State.“After what we’ve experienced this year, the emphasis on winning is the only thing that really matters for us,” he added. “I think the general public will be intrigued by [this] matchup as well.”
Marco Reus out of Euro 2016 BERLIN (AP): Borussia Dortmund midfielder Marco Reus was dropped from Germany’s European Championship squad yesterday and captain Bastian Schweinsteiger made the final cut despite injury. Reus, who had been struggling at the team’s training camp in Ascona, Switzerland, was omitted from the final list of 23 players, along with Hoffenheim defender Sebastian Rudy and Bayer Leverkusen players Julian Brandt and Karim Bellarabi. “The doctors could not give a clear prognosis,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said of Reus. “He has huge health problems and can only walk straight at the moment. More wasn’t possible in training so far. “It’s a bitter decision for us and for him, a disappointment for us all, because a Marco Reus in form, healthy and fit, would have been a huge addition,” Loew said. “But for technical reasons we have to take this decision as we know this tournament will be very strenuous.” Reus also missed Germany’s World Cup win in 2014 because of injury. No evidence of corruption in tennis match LONDON (AP): The Tennis Integrity Unit says no evidence of corruption was found after an investigation into a mixed doubles match at this year’s Australian Open that had reportedly attracted suspicious betting patterns. A statement emailed by TIU spokesman Mark Harrison yesterday said “no further action will be taken against any player involved in the match”, in which Lukasz Kubot and Andrea Hlavackova beat David Marrero and Lara Arruabarrena. The statement added: “TIU investigations not only root out corrupt practices, but also support players who are the subject of unproven speculation.” The Wall Street Journal first reported the TIU’s findings. Wrestling champion gives up Olympic place MOSCOW (AP): A two-time wrestling world champion says he is giving up his place at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro after a brawl marred a Russian qualifying tournament. Viktor Lebedev was competing against Ismail Musukayev in a semi-final bout at the Russian nationals on Friday when Musukayev was angered by refereeing calls against him and shoved Lebedev. Musukayev’s supporters and coaches charged into the ring, prompting a scuffle that was broken up by riot police. Wrestlers from Musukayev’s home region of Dagestan then boycotted the tournament in protest at the standard of refereeing, causing a nationwide scandal. Lebedev told local news outlet News.Ykt that he is withdrawing from the Olympic team as “a matter of honour” because he feels the referees gave him favourable calls in front of his home crowd.