Bovada Sportsbook

2015 Outback Bowl - Auburn vs. Wisconsin

The afternoon of January 1, 2015, saw Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, play host to the Outback Bowl. This year's game featured two big-name programs that had strong seasons but ultimately fell short of their national title goals. The Wisconsin Badgers (11-3), entered the contest after losing 59-0 in the Big 10 Championship Game, and the Auburn Tigers (8-5) could not finish tough division opponents at the end of the year. Each team hoped to provide a strong end to their season and a good sendoff for their seniors. Auburn fans were hopeful, especially those betting on the Auburn Tigers football team.

Badgers' junior tailback Melvin Gordon posted a record-breaking stat-line in 2014, finishing with 2,587 rushing yards. He was the big story for Wisconsin this year and this proved true again in the Outback Bowl. Gordon finished with 34 rushes for an outstanding 251 yards and 3 touchdowns, coming on runs of 25, 53, and 6 yards. The only other touchdown scored by the Badgers was a pass from QB Joel Stave to RB Corey Clement. These were the first points on the board for this high-scoring affair in which the lead would wind up changing eight times.

Auburn had an eight-win regular season, which in the SEC West is always an impressive feat and a decent mark in Alabama College Football. However, that left the Tigers sitting outside the conference championship game and in the Outback Bowl. The story of the season for the defense is big-game failures, giving up at least 34 points in each loss. The offense, led by senior QB Nick Marshall and senior RB Cameron Artis-Payne, averaged over 35 points per game but did have bad outings. Auburn's fate in this year's bowl game ultimately came down to a missed kick in overtime and Melvin Gordon's dominance.

The first half of the game was defensive, with Auburn getting two interceptions after an early deficit. Wisconsin's early score was answered on a two yard run by Artis-Payne with just over two minutes left in the first quarter; the only other score was a 66 yard pass from Marshall to WR Ricardo Louis, putting Auburn up 14-7.

The second half is when the Tigers began losing control of Gordon. Less than three minutes into the third quarter he evened the score on a 25 yard run; after an Auburn field goal he ended the period with a 53 yard touchdown scamper to put his team ahead 21-17. The Tiger offense came out motivated in the fourth and answered on a 20 yard pass to WR C.J. Uzomah, making it 24-21.

Both Gordon and Artis-Payne rushed for touchdowns after long drives, resulting in two more lead changes and an Auburn advantage at 31-28 with less than three minutes to go. The leg of Wisconsin kicker Rafael Gaglianone would send the game to overtime with a 29 yard field goal and later decide it with a 25 yard effort. Auburn's kicker got the last chance but could not extend the game, pushing his attempt wide. Wisconsin ended the year with a gutsy 34-31 overtime victory over a tough opponent and has reason to be proud going into the off-season.