TAMPA, Fla. – Wisconsin hoisted Barry Alvarez into the air for one more victory ride.
The school’s career victory leader called it quits – again – after the 17th-ranked Badgers took down No. 19 Auburn 34-31 in overtime in the Outback Bowl on Thursday.
It took a strong farewell performance by Melvin Gordon, a 25-yard field goal in overtime, and Alvarez’s steady leadership in the wake of the abrupt departure of former coach Gary Andersen to get the job done.
“I’ve had a couple of those, and I like them,” Alvarez, the school’s athletic director for the past 11 years, said after being doused with a sports drink and carried off the field after stopping a four-game skid in bowl games.
“It’s a little uncomfortable afterwards, but I like them. And it’s special for those seniors. It meant a lot to them. They won a lot of games here,” Alvarez added. “They haven’t won a lot of bowl games. So they put a lot into it, they bought into it, they gave us strong leadership when it was needed, and now they can enjoy it.”
Wisconsin improved to 9-4 in bowl games coached by Alvarez. He led the Badgers to 118 victories over 16 seasons before retiring in 2005, and has answered a plea from players to return to the sideline twice in the last three seasons to guide the team in a January game after losing their coach – first Bret Bielema to Arkansas and then Andersen to Oregon State.
Gordon ran for an Outback-record 251 yards and three touchdowns. Rafael Gaglianone kicked the winning field goal on the opening possession of OT, enabling the Badgers (11-3) to rebound from a 59-0 loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game.
Nick Marshall threw for two touchdowns for Auburn, which also got a pair of TDs on the ground from Cameron Artis-Payne. The Tigers (8-5) were unable to move the ball in overtime, though, and lost when Daniel Carlson’s 45-yard field goal hit the right upright.
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