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Unlikely Rose Bowl berth excites Badger fans to travel

Published On: Dec 02 2012 11:20:09 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 17 2012 08:59:37 AM CST

The Wisconsin Badgers' lopsided victory and a Rose Bowl berth that seemed unlikely one week ago was enough to convince some fans to make travel plans for the Tuesday, Jan. 1 game.

The Badgers beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 70-31, in the Big Ten Championship game Saturday in Indianapolis. The team will make its third-straight appearance in the Rose Bowl for the first time in school history.

"Three years in a row is very special -- there are very few teams that can say, 'We've made it to the Rose Bowl three years in a row,'" said Ed Mani, president of Burkhalter Travel in Madison. "There's a 180-degree change in mindset (for the fans) as a result of the win."

Burkhalter's flight, hotel, and game travel packages went on sale immediately after Saturday's win, and some people booked trips overnight, Mani said.

About 900 bought travel packages for the 2010 game, but only 225 did for last year's contest. Mani said he expects about that many people to buy packages this year.

General public tickets go on sale at 8:30 a.m. Monday through the university, with students able to purchase starting Sunday night.

Some fans said they would wait before booking a trip because of the expense.

"It's expensive, having been there," said Becky Anderson, who went to the last two Rose Bowl games. "I'm not sure (I'm going to go)."

A group of about 90 fans came back to Madison on Sunday from Indianapolis on the University of Wisconsin-Madison Alumni Association buses. Many were still excited about the Badgers' big win.

"It was the best game I had ever been to," said Sheri Hicks of the UW Alumni Association. "Every time we turned around they were scoring again."

Hicks said a lower bowl game, such as the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., wouldn't have drawn as much fan interest. Some analysts picked the Badgers to go to Jacksonville, but the Rose Bowl will draw many more fans, Hicks said.

"To go back to the Rose Bowl three times is a monumental feat, and (fans) are willing to shell out the cash," she said. "There's always the credit card!"

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