Auburn Football: Five Wisconsin Badgers to Watch in the Outback Bowl

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Oct 25, 2014; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers wide receiver Alex Erickson (86) catches a touchdown pass in front of Maryland Terrapins defensive back Jeremiah Johnson (14) during the third quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin won 52-7. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Badgers Wide Receiver Alex Erickson

The Wisconsin offense relies heavily on the run – and for good reason – Melvin Gordon is the nation’s leading rusher and a Heisman Trophy finalist. However, the Badgers have reason to try and attack Auburn through the air in the Outback Bowl.

The Tigers have allowed 388.7 yards per game this season, which ranks 61st nationally and ninth in the SEC, 239.2 of which were passing yards. Auburn ranks 13th out of 14 SEC teams in pass defense, and have struggled mightily in the second half of the season.

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  • Since October 25, Auburn has allowed 416 passing yards and five touchdowns to South Carolina, 339 yards and two TD passes to Ole Miss, 277 yards through the air and four scores to Texas A&M, and 312 passing yards and four touchdowns to Alabama.

    With all that success for opponents, don’t be surprised to see the Badgers look to take advantage of wide receiver Alex Erickson‘s talents, especially on play-action passes following fakes to Gordon.

    The 6-foot, 198-pound sophomore led Wisconsin with 51 receptions and 734 receiving yards this season. He also had three touchdown grabs and has shown an ability to put up big numbers.

    Erickson had ten catches (a career-high) for 122 yards and a score against Western Illinois early this season, caught five passes for 121 yards and a touchdown against Maryland, and set a career-high with 160 receiving yards on just five catches against rival Minnesota.

    Not bad for a former walk-on. He’s worked hard on and off the field to translate raw athleticism into playing time and production.

    “I pride myself on that,” Erickson said earlier this year. “When I wasn’t getting a lot of reps, that’s how you make yourself get noticed and trusted. You might only get ten reps in practice and you have to be perfect on those ten reps. Now that I’m getting more reps, I still try to take the same approach and try to be perfect.”

    He wasn’t perfect, but Erickson also performed will in the Big Ten title game, snagging seven passes for 83 yards. The rest of the Badgers combined for ten receptions and 104 yards against Ohio State.

    Next: Running Back Melvin Gordon