Badgers go old school in 34-31 OT Outback Bowl victory

The last time Barry Alvarez won a game it came in upset fashion over a very good Auburn team, and thanks to some old school Alvarez football Wisconsin went all deja vu as they took down the Tigers 34-31 in overtime.

After a week where Auburn running back Cameron Artis-Payne trashed talked Melvin Gordon, the Badgers and the Big Ten, Gordon  had the last laugh. He racked up an Outback Bowl record 251 yards on 34 carries and had three touchdowns in the win.

The trash talking Artis-Payne? His 126-yard, two touchdown day paled in comparison.

The win was a just reward for a senior class that has endured two coaching changes and were part of three close losses in the last three bowl games. That group put this team on their backs and made sure it wasn’t going to lose a fourth.

Wisconsin took a 7-0 lead on its first drive of the game thanks to a 7-yard touchdown reception by running back Corey Clement. It capped off a 5-play, 85-yard drive that featured all sorts of play, including long pass to a tight end, some Melvin Gordon and getting both running backs involved.

However, Joel Stave would have a nightmare of a game from there, throwing three interceptions inside Auburn territory in the first half alone. He finished the game just 14 of 27 for 121 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions.

Following the Badgers touchdown, Auburn and Wisconsin traded possessions for awhile but the Tigers go on the board thanks to an 8-play, 58-yard drive that was capped off by a Cameron Artis-Payne 2-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter.

Auburn would take its first lead of the game on a quick strike 66-yard pass from Nick Marshall to Ricardo Louis.

The rest of the first half was spent wondering what if, what if the Badgers had a quarterback. Wisconsin suffered through four drives that reached deep in to Auburn territory only to come up with no points.

After screwing around with some pass-happy play calling, the Badgers went back to their bread and butter after the halftime break. Wisconsin ground out a six-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a 25-yard touchdown run by Gordon. It was a drive that featured nothing but running the ball and the Badgers were suddenly even in the game.

It was only a sign of things to come, as the Badgers and Tigers were about to put on a show for the fans in Tampa Bay and those watching at home. The two teams would combine for 31 points in the second half.

With Auburn up 17-14 and Wisconsin facing a 4th and 1 in its own territory, the old man Alvarez went balls to the wall. It paid off in a major way, as Gordon took the carry and scampered 53 yards for a touchdown, including one heck of a stiff arm on the way to the end zone.

From there, the two teams traded offensive explosion after offensive explosion as two gassed defenses couldn’t keep up. It led to an interesting ending, one that included a goat turned hero at quarterback.

Despite a bad first half, Stave didn’t give up and he would come up huge on the Badgers final possession in regulation. He twice kept the drive alive with poised throws on third downs, hitting receivers open in the middle of the field and driving UW inside the 10-yard line.

The drive stalled there and Rafael Gagalianone hit a 29-yard field goal to tie the game up at 31.

Wisconsin lost the overtime coin toss and took the ball first as a result.

That left a defense that had been gassed since the mid-fourth quarter to hold on for three plays. Apparently linebacker Joe Schobert got that message, as he stuffed Auburn for losses on three straight plays and forced a 45-yard field goal attempt.

Auburn kicker Daniel Carison, who hit a 51-yard field goal in the third quarter, pushed the kick right and as it bounced off the upright the Badgers celebrated a second bowl game win over the Tigers.

That celebration included one of the better dousings of a coach we’ve ever seen.

Now the attention turns to a new head coach and an offseason of massive transition on the roster. Oh, and a little game against Alabama to open up next season too.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com