Auburn's bowl matchup against Wisconsin will be the Tigers' trip to the young Music City Bowl. In the five-year history of the game, SEC teams are 0-5 playing opponents from the Big East or Big Ten conferences. The game matches a 7-5 Auburn team vs. the 7-5 Badgers in the first ever bowl meeting between the two universities.
Ramsey says that matchup is generating local interest. "Local sales are going very good," he notes. "We really haven't set down and done a number yet, but we almost tripled what we had done last year before we announced the team sales so we really got off to a better start than last year, even before we knew the teams."
Auburn's players will report to Nashville to the Opryland Hotel on the evening on Dec. 26th. They will start start their final week of practice this season the following day at Vanderbilt. The first official bowl activities begin on Sunday, Dec. 28th with a welcome party for both teams at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Coach Tommy Tuberville smiles after Auburn's bowl victory over Penn State last season in Orlando.
Ramsey says it is a priority for the bowl officials to make sure the players have a memorable week in Nashville. "I think we have a really fun players only party on Monday night," he says. "We have gotten a lot of great feedback on that from the other teams that have been here. We close down most of Jillian's for the players. They have at it. Everything from Daytona tournaments to everything else at Jillian's.
"I think another one of the neat things for the players is to be able to play in the Tennessee Titans' facility on game day. Not only that, I think the Gaylord Opryland Hotel is a place where the players can get out of their rooms and roam around and kind of get lost if they want to. It is a fun place."
On last year's bowl trip to Orlando, Auburn fans were scattered around a wide area, but that shouldn't be the case for the ones making the trip to Nashville.
"One of the things we do well as a city is put on events because we are real a condensed city," Ramsey says. "You can come downtown and pretty much walk everywhere from the stadium to restaurants, bars, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the hotels. It is really an easy city to navigate.
"The night before the game we traditionally have an event we call MusicFest, a battle of the bands from the participating colleges on 2nd Avenue, which is one of our main downtown streets right in front of all of the music clubs. Outside there is a battle of the bands format for about 45 minutes or so starting around 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday night, the night before the game. After the battle of the bands all of the fans can enjoy everything from honkytonks, to B.B. King, to hard rock, to the Wild Horse Saloon. We keep the street closed for awhile so people can roam around festival style."
The Tigers and Badgers will kickoff at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 31st at The Coliseum, the 67,000-seat NFL stadium that is home to the Titans. The bowl's executive director says that he believes the new time slot is good for the Music City Bowl.
"A significant change for us is having the game on New Year's Eve afternoon," he says. "I think it is a great time slot. Locally, we will have nearly 3,000 kids participate in the game. A lot of those will be in pre-game receiving their local youth football league trophies for their age group championships. That is an exciting thing for us locally to get kids involved--especially young football players. I know a lot of those kids are excited about seeing Cadillac Williams and Auburn roll into town."
A happy All-SEC taiback Carnell Williams celebrates Auburn's victory over Alabama to close the regular season. The Cadillac rushed for 204 yards vs. the Crimson Tide.
Ramsey says he is also expecting a big turnout from Wisconsin fans. "I haven't gotten a recent report on how many tickets they have sold, but I know they have sold more tickets than they did to their previous two bowl games in El Paso and San Antonio."
The Music City Bowl game will be televised by ESPN with Pam Ward doing the play by play, Chris Spielman doing the game analysis and Matt Winer will be the sideline reporter.
The Tigers and Badgers have met just once in football and that game was a 7-7 tie back in 1931 in a regular season game in Madison, which is the home of the Badgers.
Music City U.S.A. Welcome Event--Players, coaches and team officials are welcomed at a party at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
FCA Breakfast--The Fellow of Christian Athletes organization is host for the event at the Opryland Hotel. For tickets call (615)-889-8808 by Dec. 19th.
Wives & Daughters Tour--The wives and daughters of coaches, administrators and bowl VIPs will spend the day seeing Nashville's top attractions.
Official Player Party--Jillian's at Opry Mills is the site for dinner and a variety of friendly competitions between the Tigers and Badgers.
Bowl VIP Dinner--Coaches, administrators, bowl officials and others will be entertained with a meal and music at the Wild Boar restaurant.
Band & Cheerleader Party--The Wildhorse Saloon will be reserved for band members, cheerleaders and mascots from Auburn and Wisconsin.
Coaches' Luncheon--Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville and Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez will answer questions from fans at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. Also scheduled to attend are some players and officials from each univeristy. For tickets call (615) 743-3136 by Dec. 23.
MusicFest/Battle of the Bands--The downtown block party on 2nd Avenue features bands from Auburn and Wisconsin along with cheerleaders from each team. The action gets started at approximately 5:30 p.m.
Pre-game Party--Fans from both teams can attend the free event at The Coliseum's South End Zone Area Lot R. Admission is free with Stacy Mitchhart and The Blues U Can Use providing musical entertainment.
Music City Bowl--11 a.m. kickoff, The Coliseum. Tigers vs. Badgers.