Some forecasters felt that Wisconsin would find itself with a tiger on their tail, and meet defeat in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl. With Auburn at No. 19 and Wisconsin at No. 18, they seemed to be evenly matched. But the Auburn Tigers had a lot going for them. Although they lost to Alabama, they put up 630 yards against the Crimson Tide defense. Quarterback Nick Marshall threw for 3 touchdowns and 456 yards, and receivers Coates and Williams combined for 327 yards. Most football fans probably leaned towards Auburn for the win, with only die hard fans betting on the Wisconsin Badgers football team.
Wisconsin, on the other hand, was coming off a 59-0 loss to Ohio State and a third-string quarterback, in which Heisman Trophy candidate Melvin Gordon was held to just 76 yards. Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen also left abruptly during the season. Not an auspicious start to the Badgers’ Outback Bowl prospects. But the Badgers took all this in stride, and knocked off Auburn 34-31, rejuvenating Wisconsin football pride after their crushing blow by Ohio State.
In the first quarter, Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave threw a 7-yard pass to Corey Clement for a touchdown. Later in the first quarter, Auburn running back Cameron Artis-Payne had a 2-yard run for a TD to tie the score 7-7. The second quarter saw Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall throw a 66-yard touchdown pass to Ricardo Louis, and the Tigers went to halftime with a 14-7 lead.
The third quarter belonged to Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, who ran for a 25-yard touchdown, and then, with 20 seconds to go in the quarter, ran 53 yards for another score. Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson kicked an impressive 51-yard field goal, and the quarter ended with the Badgers leading 21-17.
The fourth quarter had plenty of action, as tight end C.J. Uzomah caught a 20-yard pass from Nick Marshall, to put Auburn up 24-21. Melvin Gordon then ran 6 yards for a touchdown, and the lead went to Wisconsin. With 2 minutes 55 seconds to go in the game, Cameron Artis-Payne ran 2 yards for a touchdown, putting Auburn back ahead again. With 7 seconds to go, Badgers kicker Rafael Gaglianone launched a successful 29-yard field goal. The game was tied 31-31, and was going to overtime.
But could Wisconsin hold off the Auburn Tigers in overtime? The Badgers had the ball first, and on 3rd and 8 on the Auburn 23-yard line, Joel Stave completed a pass to tight end Troy Fumagalli for a first down on the 9-yard line. The Badgers failed to get into the end zone, though, and on 4th and goal on the Auburn 7, they elected to try for a field goal. Rafael Gaglianone’s 25-yard attempt was good, and the Badgers led 34-31.