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Wisconsin accepts bid to Outback Bowl

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Associated Press
November 28, 2007
— No. 19 Wisconsin said Wednesday it had accepted an invitation to play in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day in Tampa, Fla.

“Our entire team is excited to be returning to Florida for our fourth straight January bowl game,” Badgers coach Bret Bielema said.


Wisconsin, which completed its regular season a week and a half ago with a 9-3 record, will be participating in its 13th bowl game during the last 15 seasons and 19th in school history.


It will face a yet-to-be-determined opponent from the Southeastern Conference at Raymond James Stadium at 10 a.m. CST. The game will be televised on ESPN.


Wisconsin has a 9-3 record in its last 12 bowl appearances, better than both Ohio State at 7-6 and Michigan at 7-7. They are the only Big Ten teams to play more bowl games from 1993 to 2006.


It is the Badgers’ fourth appearance in the Outback Bowl – or the Hall of Fame Bowl as it was known from 1986 to 1995. They beat Duke 34-20 in 1995, then lost to Georgia in 1998 and 2005.


“We knew we wanted Wisconsin badly,” said Jim McVay, the bowl’s president and chief executive officer. “We love that team. That’s the kind of team you want. The football team is really good and tough and hard-nosed. They’re 9-3, highly ranked in the BCS, beat Michigan.


“They have everything you want in a New Year’s Day college football bowl team – the fans, the cheerleaders, the band, the atmosphere. Everything. The Badgers just have it all when it comes to being a great bowl team.”


The Badgers finished fourth in the Big Ten with a 5-3 record. Their opponent on New Year’s Day will depend on the outcome of Saturday’s SEC title game between No. 5 LSU (10-2) and No. 14 Tennessee (9-3).


Wisconsin’s potential opponents include those two teams as well as No. 10 Florida (9-3) and No. 23 Auburn (8-4).


The winner of the SEC’s title game receives that conference’s automatic Bowl Championship Series berth. The loser could be selected by several bowls, including the Capital One Bowl in Orlando or the Outback Bowl.


Wisconsin had been under consideration for the Capital One Bowl. But Florida Citrus Sports officials, who oversee the Capital One Bowl and Champs Sports Bowl, released it from consideration Wednesday, noting Wisconsin had appeared in the Capital One Bowl in each of the past two seasons.


“While working to select participating teams for this year’s Capital One Bowl, it has become clear that we are fortunate to have four outstanding teams available to us in the Big Ten Conference,” Florida Citrus Sports said in a statement, mentioning No. 15 Illinois (9-3), Michigan and Penn State (both 8-4) as well as Wisconsin.


“When considering that the University of Wisconsin has appeared in Orlando each of the past two years ... it is in the best interests of all concerned to release the Badgers from Capital One Bowl consideration,” the organization said.



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