Opponent Preview: Early Look At Wisconsin

Taking an early look at Auburn's opponent in the Outback Bowl, the Wisconsin Badgers.

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Auburn, Ala.--It has been 10 years since Auburn and Wisconsin met in football and that is the matchup on New Year's Day with the Tigers and Badgers squaring off in the Outback Bowl at Tampa.

A team featuring one of the top candidates for the Heisman Trophy and a solid defense, the Badgers are expected to be a formidable foe for Auburn.

Leading the charge for a Wisconsin offense averaging 34.5 points per game is talented running back Melvin Gordon. With 2,336 yards rushing this year and 26 touchdowns, Gordon is the catalyst for a Badger running attack averaging 314 yards per game this season. Gordon has four 200-plus rushing yard games this season, including a then NCAA record 408 yards in a win over Nebraska in November.

Through the air the Badgers have really struggled, averaging just 150.8 passing yards per game with 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Starter Joel Stave has battled injuries and completed 96-179 passes for 1,229 yards and eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. His favorite targets are Alex Erickson (51-734, 3 TDss) and Sam Arneson (27-354, 4 TDs).

Defensively, the Badgers are allowing 20 points and 283.2 yards per game of total offense to its opponents, but looked much different in a loss to Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship Game. Falling 59-0 to the Buckeyes in Indianapolis, the Badgers gave up 301 yards on the ground and another 254 yards passing for easily the worst performance of the season.

Six times this season the Badgers held the opposition to less than 100 yards on the ground. That was also the number of times they held teams to 150 yards or less throwing the football so it shows the capability of the group Auburn will face on New Year’s Day.

Safety Michael Caputo’s 99 tackles tops the Badgers and he also has one of six interceptions for the team and four fumble recoveries. A team with 36 sacks this year, Wisconsin is led up front by linebacker Derek Landisch with nine sacks and 16 tackles for losses. Outside linebacker Vince Biegel has added seven and a half sacks and 15 1/2 tackles for losses as well with fellow linebackers Marcus Trotter (85 tackles, 11 TFL) and Joe Schobert (63 tackles, 10 1/2 TFL) making the group as active as any group the Tigers have seen this season.

2014 Schedule

Dec 16, 2014 Indianapolis, IN Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 0
Nov 29, 2014 Madison, Wisconsin Wisconsin 34, Minnesota 24
Nov 22, 2014 Iowa City, Iowa Wisconsin 26, Iowa 24
Nov 15, 2014 Madison, Wisconsin Wisconsin 59, Nebraska 24
Nov 08, 2014 West Lafayette, Ind. Wisconsin 34, Purdue 16
Nov 1, 2014 Piscataway, N.J. Wisconsin 37, Rutgers 0
Oct 25, 2014 Madison, Wisconsin Wisconsin 52, Maryland 7
Oct 11, 2014 Madison, Wisconsin Wisconsin 38, Illinois 28
Oct 4, 2014 Evanston, Ill. Northwestern 20, Wisconsin 14
Sep 27, 2014 Madison, Wisconsin Wisconsin 27, South Florida 10
Sep 20, 2014 Madison, Wisconsin Wisconsin 68, Bowling Green 17
Sep 06, 2014 Madison, Wisconsin Wisconsin 37, Western Illinois 3
Aug 30, 2014 Houston, Texas LSU 28, Wisconsin 24
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