Badger Means Business For Auburn Game

One of Wisconsin's star players says he is looking forward to playing Auburn in The Music City Bowl.

Madison, Wis.--Despite the fact that the Music City Bowl between Auburn and Wisconsin will be played on normally festive New Year's Eve, Wisconsin linebacker Jeff Mack says he is not headed to Nashville to party.

"It is business in a sense where you want to go down there and you just want to win," Mack says. "That is pretty much what I am all about.

"With bowl games a lot of times a lot of guys from different teams sometimes get caught up in the glitz and glamour of it," the linebacker adds. "With us personally, from a coaches' standpoint they tell us straight up and down we are here to win the game. All the other stuff is nice, but when it comes down to it we are here for a reason and that is how I take it.

Jeff Mack

"I don't really worry about all of the other extracurricular activities that go on and the events and all of that stuff. I don't fool with all of that--just play the game and win it."

The six-foot, 244-pound senior was second on the Wisconsin team with 89 tackles. He also added 5.5 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery, which led to his being named honorable mention All-Big Ten.

Mack, whose father was a standout receiver for the Badgers in the early 1970s, has 250 career tackles, which are the most by any current Badger player. He was named defensive MVP of the 2002 Alamo Bowl.

Mack says that despite coming off of a disappointing 7-5 season that began with high expectations, much like the Tigers, the Music City Bowl is still an exciting matchup. "It is not a makeup game, especially with the type of caliber team Auburn is."

Heading into the game against the Tigers, Mack explains that after watching film of Auburn he is very impressed with the offense that he and the Badgers' defense will be facing. "Predominantly a run oriented offense--they have got a couple of good running backs with Cadillac and my man, number 23 (Ronnie Brown)," Mack says. "Those guys back there are a force to be reckoned with and those are the key guys that we are going to have to stop.

"A lot of speed at wide receiver, at tight end they can cause a lot of pass coverage problems for certain people and they have a quarterback that knows how to play the game and knows how to win," Mack adds. "So, they are definitely a force to be reckoned with."

As for Mack's evaluation of Carnell Williams, he gives the Cadillac very high marks. "I don't know, I think he is one of the better ones I have seen," the senior linebacker says. "I think he brings the same type of confidence and the same type of playability level, I guess, as my man did from O-state (Ohio State) last year, (Maurice) Clarett. I mean just what he brings to the offense."

Despite Mack's praise for the Tigers' offense, he and the Badgers' defense know how to win in big games. Earlier this season they held Ohio State to 69 yards rushing, 271 yards of total offense and 10 points to beat the Buckeyes 17-10 at Camp Randall Stadium and end Ohio State's 19-game winning streak, the nation's longest at the time.

Mack says that game was special. "That was a great win, you know, to end their streak of 19 games. It was such a great atmosphere to play in and was something that I will remember forever."

For Mack and the Badgers a win over the Tigers in the Music City Bowl would certainly take some of the sting away from a season with high hopes and moderate results. And the Badgers, who are 7-1 in bowl games under Coach Barry Alvarez, have usually found a way to finish out their seasons in style.

"Any win makes a season better," Mack says. "Especially that kind of season where we had a couple of the tough losses that we went through. But any win makes a season better--especially one at the end."


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