Badger Coach Has Respect For AU's Tradition

Wisconsin's football coach discusses his team's bowl matchup vs. the Auburn Tigers.

Madison, Wis.--Seventh-ranked Auburn is expected to be a solid favorite when the Tigers take on Wisconsin in the Jan. 2 Capital One Bowl Game in Orlando.

Barry Alvarez, head coach of the Badgers, says that he believes his team is looking forward to the challenge. Wisconsin is ranked 20th and 21st in the coaches and AP Top 25 rankings.

When asked if he would prefer to see his team play a less challenging opponent than the Tigers, Alvarez says, "Anybody who would make that type of statement isn't much of a competitor. I think you get in this business to give yourself an opportunity to play in big venues, play when it means something, play against great teams, teams that have tradition.

"We have tried to establish a tradition at Wisconsin," says Alvarez. "Auburn has had a tradition for many, many years and this just gives us more exposure. When you play in games of this magnitude, you are going to play against outstanding teams. It is going to be a very difficult task. That is the type of player that I want, I think that is the type of staff I have hired, guys who want to play and coach in games like this. This is what it is all about--pitting yourself against outstanding competition."

Two years ago the Tigers and Badgers squared off in the Music City Bowl in Nashville. Auburn took a 28-14 victory.

Alvarez says the Badgers are excited about the rematch as well as the chance to spend the holiday season in the Florida sunshine. "Our fans are looking forward, not only to the game, but taking advantage of all the Orlando area has to offer," the coach says. "When we come, we come in mass and we come with a band that is second to none.

"The bowl game should be a great matchup," Alvarez adds. "We played Auburn two years ago. I have always had great respect for Tommy (Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville) and the teams he has put together and how well he has coached and what he has done with his programs.

"We saw it first-hand what a quality team that he had two years ago, a team that last year that, very easily, probably should have been in the (BCS) championship game. This year, it certainly had every right to be a BCS team. We feel privileged to have the opportunity to play them. I know our players are anxious and excited to come to Orlando."

Barry Alvarez enjoys a laugh this season with Penn State head coach Joe Paterno (left). Auburn defeated Paterno's Nittany Lions on its last trip to Orlando.

The Badgers, who finished the regular season with a 9-3 record by playing an extra game off the mainland at the University of Hawaii, have reached a preseason goal, Alvarez says. "Our last goal, as we talked during two-a-days, was to play in a January bowl game.

"We stay on task with our goals, where we are, at all times, knowing that was still a possibility, if we could go out to Hawaii and win that game, it would give us nine wins, and give us an opportunity to play in a January bowl game. To me, and I think to our football team, that has been motivation all along. To achieve it is quite the accomplishment.

"Going in, knowing we had a lot of holes to fill and a lot of young people had to step up, I feel like it is quite the accomplishment to get here," Alvarez states. "Now you have got the task of playing an outstanding Auburn team."

This will be just the third meeting between the Tigers and Badgers in football. Auburn has one win and a 7-7 tie at Wisconsin during the 1931 season.

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