Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 12/16/11

Wisconsin had a double-digit win total for the third-consecutive season, a first for the Badgers program. Only five other schools have won at least 10 the past three years: Alabama, Boise State, the Badgers Rose Bowl opponent Oregon, Virginia Tech and TCU. In honor of this achievement, UW head coach Bret Bielema has been named a finalist for the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award.

Bielema, who also was a finalist in his first season at the helm of the UW program in 2006, is one of 10 candidates for the award. The other finalists are Art Briles (Baylor), Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State), Brady Hoke (Michigan Wolverines), Les Miles (LSU), Nick Saban (Alabama), David Shaw (Stanford), Bill Snyder (Kansas State), Kevin Sumlin (Houston) and Dabo Swinney (Clemson).

The Badgers went 11-2 and won the league’s first-ever championship game in 2011. They will make their second-straight Rose Bowl appearance. Last year, they lost to TCU.

During Bielema’s tenure, UW has extended its school-record bowl streak to 10 seasons, the second-longest active streak in the Big Ten and tied for the ninth-longest streak in the country. Bielema’s career winning percentage of .769 is the fourth-best in the country among FBS coaches with at least five seasons of experience, and UW’s winning percentage over that span ranks second in the Big Ten and ninth in the country.

Bielema is 60-18 (.769), including 33-15 (.688) in Big Ten play.

This season, Wisconsin ranks No. 4 nationally in scoring offense and No. 6 nationally in scoring defense heading into the bowl season. The Badgers also have seen six players earn All-America recognition this season, including Heisman Trophy and Doak Walker Award finalist Montee Ball.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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