Badgers bound for the Outback

Wisconsin's bowl placement officially announced

Badger fans can pack their bags for Tampa.

As expected, the University of Wisconsin accepted a bid to play in the Outback Bowl, the school and bowl officials announced Tuesday.

The Badgers, the third-place team in the Big Ten, finished their regular season 9-2 overall, 6-2 in the Big Ten, after closing with road losses at Michigan State and Iowa. A win in either of those games would have sent No. 20 Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl.

The Badgers, though, still get to bask in the sun on New Year's Day. The 2005 Outback Bowl kicks off from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., at 11 a.m. Eastern Jan. 1. ESPN will televise the game live.

"Our entire program is very excited about the opportunity to return to Tampa and play in the Outback Bowl," UW head coach Barry Alvarez said, in a prepared statement. "We had a tremendous experience there the last time and we are looking forward to playing in the new stadium against an excellent Southeastern Conference opponent. Tampa is a wonderful host city and the people there have really welcomed us. We're looking forward to it."

The Badgers lost to Georgia 33-6 in the 1998 Outback Bowl. The No. 8 Bulldogs (8-2) may end up in this year's game as well. Other potential opponents for UW include No. 14 LSU (8-2) and No. 15 Tennessee (8-2). The Outback Bowl has its pick of SEC and Big Ten teams that are not selected by either the BCS or the Capitol One Bowl.

"We are proud to welcome the 9-2 Badgers to the Outback Bowl," Team Selection Chairman Bernie O'Brien said. "We are looking forward to matching them up with a highly ranked SEC opponent."

"It's great to have Coach Alvarez and an outstanding Badger team back to Tampa for the third time," Outback Bowl Chairman Chuck Johnson said. "The Badgers have been one of the top teams all season and will be an outstanding Big Ten representative in what we feel will be another great Outback Bowl match-up."

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