Auburn Football: Outback Bowl Q&A With Badger of Honor


The 8-4 Auburn football team will play 9-3 Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl in Tampa on January 1. As we look ahead to the game, we sat down with Jim Oxley, the editor of Badger of Honor (@BadgerOfHonorFS on Twitter), the Wisconsin fan site on the FanSided network.

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Jim was kind enough to answer some of our questions in regards to the upcoming bowl game.

Fly War Eagle:  Well, Jim, it doesn’t make much sense in beating around the bush. The Badgers were beaten 59-0 by Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. How has that game been sitting with Wisconsin fans?

Badger of Honor: I won’t beat around the bush, either – it’s not sitting well. Even days later I’ve still got a bad taste in my mouth, and all I did was watch the game and write a couple hundred words about it. Wisconsin was out-manned in every facet of the game. The Badgers allowed a third-string quarterback starting his first career game to dice up their secondary and failed to put any pressure on him in the process. Melvin Gordon was shut down early, and with the game out of reach in the first half, were forced to take to the air, which was equally as painful.

It’s a loss that will be tough to live down, but Wisconsin will be looking for redemption in the Outback Bowl.

FWE: Of course, you’ve got to have a quality season to make it to a conference title game. What have been some of the brightest spots in 2014?

BoH: Wisconsin has certainly had its highs over the course of the regular season, many of them Melvin Gordon related. He knocked out plenty of records – fastest to 2,000 yards in a season, momentarily holding the record for most yards in a game, and becoming the Big Ten’s single-season rushing leader come to mind.

The final two home games of the regular season were big, as well. In the snow against Nebraska, Wisconsin trailed early, but stormed back behind Gordon’s 408 yards and blew the Cornhuskers away. Two weeks later, with the Big Ten West on the line, Wisconsin secured its place in the Big Ten Championship Game with a win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers, holding on to Paul Bunyan’s Axe in the rivalry game for the 11th straight year.

FWE: Melvin Gordon, the Heisman Trophy finalist that broke the NCAA single-game rushing record earlier this season, is one of the greatest players in Wisconsin history. How does he stack up to some of the all-time Badger greats?

BoH: Gordon’s single season numbers this year are hard to argue with. He’s racked up more yards this season than any Big Ten running back in college football history, including both Wisconsin Heisman Trophy winners: Alan Ameche (1954) and Ron Dayne (1999). His career stats don’t compare with Dayne’s, but there’s no question he’ll be remembered as one of the best running backs to carry the ball at Wisconsin.

FWE: A couple of years ago, Bret Bielema left Madison to take the job at Arkansas, and Gary Anderson was hired to replace him. How do Wisconsin fans feel now that Andersen also left in shocking fashion for what seems to be a worse job?

BoH: There were rumblings that Andersen was unhappy in Madison, but anyone who says they expected Andersen to leave is lying. It was a complete shock to everyone, including the players. And nothing against Oregon State, or Corvallis, but it’s clearly a step down from the head gig at Wisconsin.

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  • At the end of the day, Wisconsin players and Badgers fans want someone at the helm who wants to be there, and clearly that wasn’t Andersen. The football program is in good hands under the direction of Barry Alvarez, and fans will need to trust that he brings a strong coach to the program.

    FWE: Speaking of the Wisconsin coaching staff, there are many Auburn football fans that would like Gus Malzahn to take a run at Dave Aranda (as a Plan B) for the Tigers’ vacant defensive coordinator spot. What can you tell us about Aranda?

    BoH: Dave Aranda will be getting plenty of calls this off-season – if he hasn’t already started receiving them. You can expect Andersen to attempt to take him to Oregon State, and Aranda might even be given some thought to take over as Wisconsin’s head coach. Anyone in need of a defensive coordinator will have him at or near the top of their list.

    Simply put, Aranda is one of the best defensive coordinators in the game right now. At one point this season Wisconsin was the best statistical defense in the country. The loss to Ohio State doesn’t look great right now, but there’s no denying he’s among the best assistant coaches in the nation. Wisconsin players speak incredibly highly of him as a coach, and the results on the field are undeniable.

    Thanks Jim, we look forward to another Q&A closer to the game.

    Next: Malzahn Discusses Muschamp on SportsCenter

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