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Wisconsin Sports Briefs: Matthews out for Packers game for NFC North title…

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River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

The Green Bay Packers will be without Clay Matthews for their winner-take-all game in Chicago on Sunday for the NFC North title.

The Packers said Christmas Day that the star outside linebacker is out for the regular season finale, after he re-injured the right thumb he broke Oct. 6.

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Neither the Packers nor Chicago practiced on Christmas, but both teams released injury reports indicating who would have participated.

Linebackers Brad Jones, Nick Perry and Mike Neal were all listed as non-participants along with defensive tackle Ryan Pickett and running back Eddie Lacy.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was listed as being limited. A decision is expected Thursday on whether he'll have a chance to play against the Bears as he recovers from his broken collarbone from Nov. 6. Chicago's injury report said receiver Earl Bennett would not have practiced had the Bears held a workout yesterday. Linebacker Lance Briggs was listed as a full participant.

Packers back to work

The Green Bay Packers are back at work Thursday, getting ready for their Sunday showdown in Chicago that will determine the NFC North Division champion.

With all the injured players out of the lineup, one of the bright spots is the improved play of corner Tramon Williams. He's clearly back to 100 percent after a prolonged shoulder injury from almost three seasons ago.

Williams is now 30. The Green Bay Press Gazette said he was given advice last off-season from Terrell Owens on how to prolong his career.

T.O. credits yoga for being able to play 15 seasons in the NFL. Williams had previously done yoga in the off-season, but after getting help from Owens about aging gracefully in football, Williams is now doing his exercises twice a week during the season.

Williams says he can feel the difference. It's so good, that about a dozen other Packers have been joining him on and off.

Cornerbacks Coach Joe Whitt tells players they always have to work for their success, and that they're destined for failure once they ease up.

Whitt said he's never had to give that speech to Williams.

Badgers prepare for South Carolina

Wisconsin Football Coach Gary Andersen says a bowl game is "a one-game series for a championship."

The Badgers will play South Carolina on New Year's Day in the Capital One Bowl. On Christmas Day, they arrived in Orlando for a week of practices and pre-bowl events.

Andersen said players never forget bowl victories. He said that 20 years from now they can take their children to their old schools and show them the trophies.

The coach said losing a bowl "puts a sour taste in your mouth."

Wisconsin is coming off three straight Rose Bowl losses. Twenty-two seniors won't have a bowl victory on their resumes unless they win next week.

Andersen is 1-1 in bowl games when he coached at Utah State. His team lost 24-23 to Ohio in the 2011 Idaho Potato Bowl. They crushed Toledo 41-15 at the same bowl the next year.

ndersen was also 7-0 while an assistant at Utah.

Badgers center Dallas Lewallen made the trip, but is not expected to play after he aggravated a knee injury in early November. Redshirt freshman Dan Voltz will make snaps for his fifth straight game.

Andersen said he expects every player to be eligible academically after their first semesters of the year just ended.

Gamecocks receiver is out

A key receiver for South Carolina will miss next Wednesday's Capital One Bowl against Wisconsin.

Sophomore Damiere Byrd recently injured a knee at practice. He was second on his team with 33 catches for 575 yards this season. Byrd caught four touchdown passes.

Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw said the Badgers remind him of the Nebraska team from 2011 - tough, physical and fast. Shaw told reporters, "We're going to have to show up and play."

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Coach Gary Andersen said he's looking forward to finishing the season "the right way," and then going to work next month on building the 2014 edition of the Badgers.

After arriving in Orlando on Christmas, Andersen shoved aside reports that he's a possible candidate for the head coaching job at the University of Texas.

He giggled when asked about that. He said he's happy in Madison after one season there, and he has no desire to look anywhere else.

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