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TCU & Wisconsin Football Players Visit Disneyland

Mickey and Minnie Mouse wave to the cameras amidst hundreds of dancers and Disney characters while performing for a Christmas special. (credit: Matt Stroshane/Disney via Getty Images)

Mickey and Minnie Mouse wave to the cameras amidst hundreds of dancers and Disney characters while performing for a Christmas special. (credit: Matt Stroshane/Disney via Getty Images)

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – Wisconsin’s Scott Tolzien and TCU’s Andy Dalton both feel pretty grateful to be out of the cold and into Rose Bowl week.

With the Matterhorn over their left shoulder and Sleeping Beauty Castle behind them, the quarterbacks of the third-ranked Horned Frogs and the No. 4 Badgers began enjoying the fruits of their remarkable seasons Sunday, hobnobbing with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck on a mild, brisk afternoon at Disneyland.

“I looked out in the crowd, and there were people in jackets,” Tolzien said with a laugh. “This might as well be 80 degrees for us in Madison.”

Both teams enjoyed the traditional day of fun and goofiness before their serious preparation for next weekend’s meeting, likely to be the nation’s highest-profile bowl after the BCS title game. The teams’ eight combined captains beamed when they took the stage in front of the castle while the Disneyland Band played “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” before a spray of red, purple and white streamers.

“Yeah, I don’t really want to get into a teacup or anything where I feel like I’m suffocating,” said Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin’s 6-foot-7, 327-pound, Outland Trophy-winning left tackle. “There’s a lot of history here, and it’s a really great opportunity to have some fun, but I’m going to try to stay out of that.”

Yet just a few minutes later, Carimi was in a giant teacup on the Mad Tea Party ride with teammate Jay Valai, spinning through the afternoon.

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema shook off a case of the sniffles before high-fiving Mickey.

“I came out here and got a little cold with all this good weather,” Bielema said.

The unbeaten Horned Frogs also lived it up at Disneyland, although center Jake Kirkpatrick shared Carimi’s trepidation about some amusements.

“I don’t really like the rides where you go up and down too much,” the 6-foot-3, 305-pound star lineman said. “It’s hard enough to stay in. I don’t need that part.”

TCU has been in town since Christmas Eve, with coach Gary Patterson changing his timetable from last season’s trip to the Fiesta Bowl. The Frogs went bowling and enjoyed a big Christmas dinner Saturday, both keeping the players focused on football and making a more complete bowl experience.

After an intense practice Sunday morning before the Disneyland jaunt, TCU will take Monday off to simulate a normal game week. The Frogs instead will visit the Rose Bowl for the first time before the Beef Bowl — a monstrous meal at Lawry’s the Prime Rib, a venerated Beverly Hills restaurant.

“We’re going to go out and let them see the Rose Bowl,” Patterson said. “We didn’t do that last year, and we’re looking forward to seeing it, because it’s quite a place.”

The Badgers went straight to the Rose Bowl from their Christmas Day flight for their first look at the venerated stadium. The last bunch of Badgers to make it to Pasadena beat Stanford on Jan. 1, 2000.

When both teams get to serious work, they’ll try to figure out the enormous challenges facing both defenses. Wisconsin’s bruising offensive line nearly led the Badgers to a perfect season, while Dalton quarterbacked TCU’s high-octane offense to an unbeaten regular season and another Mountain West title.

“We know we have a lot of work to do this week, but we’ve had a lot of focus and dedication toward this game all month long,” Kirkpatrick said. “We know Wisconsin is the toughest team we’ve probably ever played. We can’t wait to enjoy the whole week, but we also know why we’re here.”

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