When: Jan. 1, 2015; Noon EST
Where: Tampa Bay, FL; Raymond James Stadium
Spread: Auburn -6.5 (via VegasInsider.com)
All-Time Series: Tied 1-1-1
Last Meeting: Wisconsin Win, 24-10 (2005 Capital One Bowl)
Gift Bag: $150 Best Buy gift card; Outback Steakhouse gift card; Fossil watch; Jostens ring; cap (courtesy sportsbusinessdaily.com)
The Don of Wisconsin Badgers football returns to the sidelines for a “one game affair,” for a second time in three years. Yep, ex-head coach and current AD Barry Alvarez will man the sidelines as the head coach for what should be his final go-round as a head coach. Ironically, it will come against the team he originally went against for his swan song.
Badger fans will be hoping it ends in similar fashion, as Wisconsin won 24-10 over the Auburn Tigers in the Capital One Bowl following the 2005 season. However, this is 2014 and these teams are very different from the ones we saw back in 2005.
First off, Auburn didn’t have a quarterback like Nick Marshall and Wisconsin wasn’t playing top 10 national defense for a second-straight season…nor was the defense of the 3-4 variety. Oh, and this coaching staff is in complete transition, something that wasn’t necessarily the case last time around.
On the field, this could be one of the most intriguing matchups for the Big Ten all bowl season long. For Wisconsin it marks a second crack at a SEC squad this season, and given the bitter defeat to LSU to open the season this group is going to be highly motivated to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
What this game will come down to is very simple though…which offense can get its strength to work better. The Badgers will look to run over a Tigers defense that hasn’t been terrible but also far from great against the run, while Auburn is going to look to use its multi-dimensional quarterback to open up the pass game.
Auburn has the star power advantage, with Nick Marshall at quarterback, Cameron Artis-Payne at running back and Sammie Coates at wide receiver. Yet, the sum of Wisconsin’s defense is better than most of its individual parts, and if they play like the rankings indicate it could be a long day for the Tigers offense.
Coming off a 59-0 defeat to Ohio State, you can bet this defense has something to prove against an offense that will remind many of the Buckeyes’ play on the first Saturday in December. If Melvin Gordon goes off for over 200 yards and UW gets some pressure on Marshall it could be an interesting early afternoon in Tampa Bay.
Andy: Wisconsin 38, Auburn 35
Dave: Auburn 41, Wisconsin 34
Zach: Wisconsin 34, Auburn 31