The Tigers, who are 5-2-2 all-time vs. Big Ten teams, will be looking for a second consecutive victory over an opponent from that conference after knocking off Penn State 13-7 in the 2003 Capital One Bowl in Orlando.
This season's matchup against Wisconsin features a pair of teams that have never met in a bowl game and have played just once in a 7-7 tie on Oct. 13, 1931 on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison.
Auburn safety Junior Rosegreen keeps track of a variety of college teams around the country and says that he likes the matchup scheduled for 11 a.m. on Dec. 31st at The Coliseum in downtown Nashville. "I like it because they say the Big Ten is punishing football," Rosegreen notes. "They just don't know that the SEC is both. You know we punish and finesse you, but it's going to be a big game, an exciting game for us."
Junior Rosegreen is fifth on the Auburn team in tackles with 45 stops.
That matchup will be the final Auburn contest for 13 seniors. Rosegreen, a junior, says that he and his teammates want to make sure those players go out as winners. "Wisconsin is trying to come out and win their last game of the season and go out with a good note and we are trying to do the same," says Rosegreen, who adds, "It can leave us on a good note ending our season that we finished up strong. We want to let our seniors go out with a bang."
Statistically, Wisconsin has been more successful moving the football than the Tigers while Auburn has had the tougher defense. The Badgers are averaging 406.1 yards per game with 186.9 on the ground and 219.2 through the air. Auburn is rushing for 182.9 yards per contest and passing for 195.2 for an average of 378.1 yards per contest.
The Tigers are allowing just 283.3 yards per game, which is sixth nationally. Opponents are gaining an average of 95.5 rushing yards and 187.8 through the air. Wisconsin allows 355.5 yards per game with 137.4 on the ground and 218.1 passing yards.
Rosegreen says he is not sure how that will affect his team. "Who knows?" he says. "We can't tell until we get out there. We are just working out and staying in shape and just trying to get stronger and watching film. That is all we can do right now until the coaches come back from recruiting."
Auburn is scheduled to practice five or six times before breaking for Christmas. The Tigers have not had anything but conditioning workouts since the victory over Alabama. Regular practices are scheduled to start with two on Thursday after fall semester final exams are finished. The Tigers will practice on campus through Saturday and then reassemble in Nashville on the 26th. The next day they will begin game week preparations at Vanderbilt's practice facilities.
Evans is a 5-11, 202 senior who earned first team All-Big Ten honors with 60 catches for 1,162 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has career totals of 171 catches for 3,417 yards and 26 touchdowns. Rosegreen already has a scouting report on the Badger star. "He blocks and he does all of the good things that some receivers don't really care to do," the strong safety says. "By making the big block, he makes the big catches and the big runs after the catch so pretty much he is just an all around receiver."
Anthony Davis, a 5-8, 191 junior tailback, rushed for 1,555 yards as a sophomore, but has been limited this season by ankle problems. He is ready to go for the bowl game and has 19 career 100-yard rushing games for Coach Barry Alvarez's team and 3,626 career rushing yards, which is third in school history. He has rushed for 605 yards and seven touchdowns this season while averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
This season's leading rusher is Dwayne Smith, a 5-11, 225-pounder who has 856 yards and nine touchdowns in his five starts plus reserve action in the seven other games. He is averaging 5.3 yards per carry this season.
Quarterback Jim Sorgi, a 6-5, 190 senior, has thrown for 2,082 yards, which is sixth in Wisconsin single season history. He has completed 56.2 percent of his 226 passes for 16 touchdowns with eight interceptions. The first year starter is the team captain who started every contest this season except the Northwestern game when he was out with an injury.
Backup QB Matt Schabert, a 6-3, 203 junior, played in 11 games and completed 33-65 passes for 441 yards with one TD and four interceptions. Schabert has been a more effective runner with an average of 3.0 on 25 carries while Sorgi is averaging 0.3 yards per carry on 57 rushes.
Rosegreen says despite the disappointment of not reaching the team's goal of winning the SEC Championship, he doesn't believe the Tigers will be lackadaisical about playing in the Music City Bowl. "No, I doubt it and if they do we will get them jacked up and ready to go," Rosegreen says. "That is our job and I am going to be a senior coming up so I just want to let the seniors go out with a bang and get ready for my senior year and get these boys ready."