Auburn Football: Outback Bowl Q&A With Badger of Honor, Round 2


In just a few days, the 8-4, No. 19 Auburn football team will play a 10-3, 18th ranked  Wisconsin squad in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida. As we look ahead to the New Year’s Day bowl game, we sat down for a second round of questions with Jim Oxley, the editor of Badger of Honor, the Wisconsin fan site on the FanSided network.

Fly War Eagle: Since the last time we talked, the Badgers have hired a new head coach. What do Wisconsin fans think about Paul Chryst coming back to Madison?

Badger of Honor: There’s always going to be mixed feelings about a new coach, but I think for the most part, Wisconsinites are happy with the hire.

Nov 22, 2014; Iowa City, IA, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Tanner McEvoy (5) runs for a touchdown against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Chryst is a Wisconsin guy through-and-through, and this is his dream job. Many wanted him hired two years ago when Gary Andersen took the job, but Chryst had only been at Pitt for a year.

Chryst was in charge of some exciting Wisconsin offenses during his time as the Badgers offensive coordinator, notably the season that featured the duo of Russell Wilson and Montee Ball. Wisconsin sees the hire a great marriage between the offensive strengths Chryst brings to the table and the defensive system Dave Aranda has installed at UW.

FWE: Of course, Chryst won’t take over until after the Outback Bowl. Looking ahead to the game itself, how will interim head coach/athletic director/hall of famer Barry Alvarez impact the game?

BoH: In his media press conference Monday, Alvarez said he was “more of a stabilizing force more than anything else,” which I think sums up perfectly his role in the game. Alvarez isn’t going to be the x’s and o’s guy, but he’s the face the team can look to in the heat of the battle. The players will rely more on the position coaches for their individual assignments, but Alvarez will be the motivating figure on the sidelines.

This is Alvarez’s second time coaching a bowl game since retiring as Wisconsin’s head coach, and it’s the second time he did so because the players asked him to. He knows how much his presence means to the team, and he’ll do everything he can to help them get the “W.”

FWE: The Badgers like to run the ball – and for good reason. Is there any reason to think Wisconsin won’t hand the ball to Melvin Gordon 30 times and have him run behind one of the nation’s best offensive lines?

BoH: The only reason Wisconsin should even think about doing anything but running Gordon is if they face a massive deficit – like in the Big Ten Championship – and even then, running is still their best bet. The quarterback play has been so poor that teams have been able to key hard on the running game, and in most instances, Gordon has still put up monster numbers.

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This defense will be better than most Wisconsin has seen, however, so quarterback play will be very important. The Badgers will need a play or two out of the passing game, but must rely heavily on the run if they want to emerge victorious.

FWE: Wisconsin has some talent on defense as well. Can you give us some insight on how the Badgers will attempt to slow down the Auburn offense?

BoH: Wisconsin’s defense has some speed, which will be vital to slowing down the dual threat QB that Nick Marshall is. Look for Wisconsin to spy Marshall, likely with a linebacker or safety Michael Caputo, as the Badgers will try to contain him in the pocket without allowing the deep throw. Wisconsin’s linebackers will be the key to the game, however, as if the Badgers allow Marshall and Cameron Artis-Payne to run wild, the game could quickly get out of hand.

FWE: Currently, the Tigers are a 6.5-point favorite to beat the Badgers. Care to make a prediction?

BoH: I see this being a very close game despite that spread. I don’t think either defense will be able to completely shut down the opposing offense, but I think the Badgers will be able to get Gordon going, control the pace of the game, and give their defense enough time to rest. Freshman kicker Rafael Gaglianone could come up big for the Badgers, and I’ll say his strong leg will be the difference in a 38-37 Wisconsin victory.

Thanks Jim. We look forward to the game.

Next: Five Auburn Tigers Key to an Outback Bowl Victory

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