Blue Crush: Tiger Defensive Rush Buries Badgers

It's what's up front that counted as the Auburn defense was the star of the show in Music City.

Nashville, Tenn.--Bowl games are supposed to be fun and probably nobody enjoyed their final one any more on New Year's Eve than Auburn's Reggie Torbor.

The senior defensive end was part of a blue wave of pass rushers who attacked Wisconsin early and often before delivering a knockout blow in the final quarter as Auburn defeated the Badgers 28-14 in the Music City Bowl.

"That was probably the most fun I have ever had," a smiling Torbor said after his final college football game. "I had a lot of fun in the Alabama, too, but it came to the realization that it was now or never for me."

Torbor was credited with seven tackles, including four for losses with 2 1/2 sacks in his final college game. Even when he wasn't making a play, he was chasing Wisconsin quarterback Jim Sorgi or anybody else wearing a white jersey.

"We wanted to continually hit their quarterback and get him out of a rhythm," Torbor says. "That was our game plan."

Karlos Dansby and Reggie Torbor crush Wisconsin quarterback Jim Sorgi and cause a fumble late in Auburn's victory Wednesday.

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said that it was an all-around team victory for the Tigers, but the defense, and the defensive front in particular, deserve special credit for the win. He said by lining up Torbor on one end of the defensive front and Dansby on the other, the Badgers had their hands full trying to deal with the two speedy pass rushers.

Tuberville also had praise for the pass rush coming from the inside, too. "Demarco McNeil and Spencer Johnson and our entire defensive line got push up the middle. Their quarterback had to get out and scramble right and left. We got to him and sacked him six times, but he got hit a lot more than that. He's a gamer.

The Tigers finally knocked the Badger QB out in the fourth quarter with an arm injury when he got smashed by Karlos Dansby.

Overall, the Tigers limited the Badgers to just 261 yards with a defensive effort that impressed Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez. "Give them credit," said Alvarez, who noted that he was particularly impressed by the Auburn defensive line. "That was a pretty good outfit we played against."

Senior linebacker Karlos Dansby finished his career in spectacular style. He led the Tigers in tackles with 10 and had 1 1/2 sacks, including the big one that set up the game-winning touchdown.

"We were getting to their quarterback with a four-man rush so coach didn't really want to blitz me until the second half," Dansby said. "When we came out in the second half, coach just released the hounds on them. Everything he called was coming free so we just kept running it.

"The turnovers we caused were big and we got the offense the football in great field position," Dansby added. "When we did that we knew they would score."

Dansby said the finale was special for his team, which improved to 8-5, and a game he will never forget. "What I really wanted was to have a great game for my final performance--that was what I really wanted. And it happened."

Although Jason Campbell was named the bowl MVP, the defense was the real star of the show. However, Campbell did have a solid all-around performance. He completed 10-22 passes for 138 yards and rushed for 67 more yards on nine carries.

"Jason made some crucial third down throws and the one to Jeris McIntyre was unbelievable," Tommy Tuberville said.

That pass got Auburn out of a deep hole and changed the momentum. Alvarez said it was the big play of the game when Campbell hit McIntyre on an out route for 51 yards on third and eight from the Auburn eight yard line just after the Badgers had tied the game with a touchdown and two-point conversion.

Campbell followed that with a 27-yard pass to Silas Daniels and Ronnie Brown completed the six-play drive with a two-yard TD run to put the Tigers ahead for good with 3:30 to play.

Auburn then turned the hounds loose as Torbor and Dansby blasted Sorgi two plays later knocking him out of the game and knocking the football to the turf. Sophomore defensive lineman T.J. Jackson fell on the ball at the Wisconsin six and two Carnell Williams runs made the score 28-14 as the Auburn fans in the crowd of 55,109 at The Coliseum cheered the verdict.

"That win meant a lot to our team," Campbell said. "We just wanted to come out and send the seniors out on top. Coach Tuberville told us that they were a good team and we were going to have to make big plays to beat them."

In the first half, neither offense made many big plays.

Auburn opened the game with a halfback pass from Carnell Williams to Jeris McInytre for 19 yards and quickly moved into Wisconsin territory. After a third and five illegal procedure penalty, the drive stalled at the 35 and the Tigers tried to punt the Badgers into a hole. One official ruled a punt by Kody Bliss was out of bounds inside the one, but that was overruled by another member of the ACC officiating crew and the Badgers got to start at the 20.

Neither team dented the scoreboard in the first quarter in a period controlled by the defenses except for a handful of plays. Auburn kept the ball for 17 plays and totalled 70 yards. The Badgers netted just 43 yards on 14 plays.

The Badgers took advantage of their first scoring threat, but had to settle for three points after getting a first down and goal to go at the Tiger nine. A sack by Demarco McNeil was big for the Tigers as Mike Allen kicked a 20-yard field goal with 9:44 left in the half to complete the 14-play drive that covered 65 yards.

Auburn responded with its best drive of the half, moving 79 yards on 10 plays with Ronnie Brown carrying the load at tailback. Brown got the drive started by rumbling 29 yards to midfield on the first play after breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage.

Brown added runs of minus one, five, seven and two yards before the junior put Auburn ahead 7-3 on a third down and less than a yard run at left guard with with 4:37 left in the half.

Wisconsin took the kickoff and used a 30-yard pass to Brand Williams and a 24-yard run by Anthony Davis to quickly move into scoring possession. The Badgers again had to settle for a field goal as Allen kicked a 35-yarder to cut the gap to 7-6 with 2:42 left in the half.

Auburn didn't run its two-minute offense after getting the ball back at its 25, but moved the ball to the Wisconsin 48 before Jason Campbell's long pass over the middle was intercepted by safety Jim Leonard with eight seconds before intermission.

At halftime, the Tigers had a 176-154 lead in total yardage with Brown having 54 yards on nine carries and Williams 37 on eight runs. Campbell was 6-11 for 48 yards with the one interception. Jim Sorgi's passing led Wisconsin with 8-13 for 106 yards.

Auburn stretched the lead to 14-6 by driving 80 yards on 16 plays on its first possession of the third quarter after Wisconsin kept the ball for 11 plays without scoring. The big play of the drive was a 30-yard scramble by Campbell.

The score came on a fourth and inches call with Williams going high over the Badger defense for the score.

Wisconsin tied the game with 8:52 left to play on an eight play, 52-yard capped by a spectacular catch for a touchdown by star receiver Lee Evans on third and nine at the Auburn 12. Sorgi then completed a pass for a two-point conversion to Owen Daniel.

The defense got the ball back for the go-ahead touchdown when Carlos Rogers deflected a deep pass and safety Will Herring made the interception. However, Auburn was deep in its own territory at the 13 before making the big play on third and eight to McIntyre.

"I really like playing in Nashville," McIntyre said. The senior wide receiver had a big day here early in the season at Vanderbilt. "We tried that pass play earlier in the game and didn't get, but I knew it would work. That got the momentum back for us and we were able to win the game, which was important to all of us--especially the seniors."

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