TAMPA, Fla. - The University of Wisconsin finally got a bounce to go its way.
Playing his final collegiate game, junior tailback Melvin Gordon was spectacular, putting Wisconsin on his back that eventually led to the Badgers pulling out a 34-41 thriller in overtime over No.19 Auburn in front of 44,023 at the Outback Bowl.
The victory ends a string of four straight bowl losses by Wisconsin (11-3) and all but erases the horrendous showing in the Big Ten championship game.
Gordon finished with 251 yards – a new Outback Bowl record - on 34 carries and three scores (all in the second half), the last of which put Wisconsin up 28-24 with 7:58 remaining in the game.
But Wisconsin’s defense couldn’t stop Auburn (8-5), which drove 71 yards in 10 plays, chewing up 5:03 on the clock, to go ahead 31-28.
Unlike in past years, Wisconsin didn’t fold. UW declined a 50-yard field goal attempt to go for it on fourth-and-5, resulting in a 7-yard completion to Sam Arneson. UW moved even closer when Kenzel Doe caught a 10-yard pass on third-and-5 at the Auburn 11.
After three straight incompletions, Rafael Gaglianone’s 29-yard field goal was good to put UW into its first overtime bowl since the 2002 Alamo Bowl. That game also ended with UW winning by three.
On offense first, Gaglianone kicked a 25-yard field goal and Wisconsin’s defense – which had been gashed in the fourth quarter – finally stood strong, holding the Tigers to negative-3 yards. When Daniel Carlson’s 45-yard field goal bounced off the right upright and down to the turf, UW’s sideline exploded on to the field in euphoric celebration.
A projected offensive shootout turned into a defensive chess match early. Wisconsin’s bevy of wrinkles on the opening drive led them on an 89-yard touchdown drive in five plays, but the Badgers went away from that edge the final five drives of the half. The result was three punts, two interceptions and 137 total yards.
Auburn had only 177 total yards in the first half but led 14-7 after scoring a pair of touchdowns off UW miscues – a short Drew Meyer punt led to a short field and a busted coverage led to a 66-yard pass play.
With the passing game grounding Wisconsin, Gordon ran possessed in the third quarter, running for 121 yards on only nine carries (13.4 yards per carry) and two scores to carry the Badgers out of an offensive funk and set the stage for a tremendous finish.
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5 plays, 89 yards, 2:10 TOP, 11:10 left
Corey Clement 7-yard pass from Joel Stave (Rafael Gaglianone kick)
Key Play: The jet sweep claims another victim for Wisconsin, as Corey Clement goes 43 yards around the left tackle down to the Auburn 7. One play later, he was in the end zone.
8 plays, 58 yards, 2:46 TOP, 2:16 left
Cameron Artis-Payne 2-yard run (Daniel Carlson kick)
Key Play: An ugly punt by Drew Meyer gave Auburn great field position, Auburn marched right down the field, the biggest hit coming on a 19-yard pass reception by Quan Bray to the UW 2.
2 plays, 67 yards, :40 TOP, 8:01 left
Ricardo Louis 66-yard pass from Nick Marshall (Daniel Carlson kick)
Key Play: In one-on-one coverage with Louis, Sojourn Shelton was expecting safety help over the top. When Lubern Figaro was caught guessing, Louis became wide open after getting a step on Shelton.
6 plays, 75 yards, 2:51 TOP, 12:09 left
Melvin Gordon 25-yard run (Rafael Gaglianone kick)
Key Play: Showing the incredible patience that he's known for, Gordon waited for the play to develop, got a pair of stellar downfield blocks and muscles his way over the goal line
8 plays, 42 yards, 2:37 TOP, 9:32 left
FG Daniel Carlson 51
Key Play: Louis has been a thorn in Wisconsin's side all afternoon, as his 17-yard jet sweep to the UW 38 gave the Badgers a taste of their own medicine.
6 plays, 73 yards, 3:16 TOP, :20 left
Melvin Gordon 53-yard run (Rafael Gaglianone kick)
Key Play: Choosing to go for it on fourth-and-1, Gordon ran right up the gut, made Jermaine Whitehead miss in the middle the field and gave him a wicked stiff arm that propelled him into the end zone.
9 plays, 81 yards, 3:49 TOP, 11:21 left
C.J. Uzomah 20-yard pass from Nick Marshall (Carlson kick)
Key Play: Marshall delivered the pass to where only Uzomah could catch it, which he did with a diving grab in the end zone.
7 plays, 70 yards, 3:23 TOP, 7:58 left
Melvin Gordon 6-yard run (Gaglianone kick)
Key Play: The jet sweep is treating Wisconsin well, as Kenzel Doe went 25 yards around the left edge down to the Auburn 29. Doe is the third different UW player to run the play.
10 plays, 71 yards, 5:03 TOP, 2:55 left
Cameron Artis-Payne 2-yard run (Carlson kick)
Key Play: On fourth-and-11 from the Wisconsin 15, Sojourn Shelton committed a pass interference penalty in the end zone, giving Auburn first down at the UW 2.
13 plays, 64 yards, 2:48 TOP, :07 left
FG Gaglianone 29
Key Play: Deciding against a 50-yard field goal, Wisconsin successfully rolled the dice on fourth-and-5 with a seven-yard pass play to Sam Arneson.
7 plays, 18 yards
FG Gaglianone 25
Key Play: On third-and-8, Joel Stave hit an open Troy Fumagalli in the center of the field for a first down at the Auburn 9.
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