Fading familiarity

Wisconsin and Georgia tangled in the Outback Bowl seven years ago

TAMPA, Fla. — The connections between these University Wisconsin and Georgia football teams and the ones that faced each other in the 1998 Outback Bowl are few and far between. The Bulldogs quarterback in their 33-6 drubbing of the Badgers that year was Mike Bobo, now Georgia's quarterbacks coach.

"You know he really doesn't even talk about it," current Georgia quarterback David Greene said. "You play [for] a guy that goes 26-for-28 his last game should be bragging a little bit more."

Bobo indeed completed 26 of 28 passes in that game, for 235 yards and one touchdown. Georgia's was a veteran team chock full of NFL talent that year and two more stars, running back Robert Edwards and receiver Hines Ward, had fantastic games that day. Edwards ran for 110 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries and Ward caught 12 passes for 122 yards.

Bobo, who completed 19 consecutive passes at one point, was named the game's Most Valuable Player.

"I think every quarterback dreams of having that kind of success, the way he did last time," Greene said. "He really doesn't even talk about it. He hasn't mentioned it yet, unless we've brought it up."

It was not a shining moment in Badger annals but Wisconsin brought a very young team to Tampa that year. It was a team that would win consecutive Rose Bowls the next two seasons.

"We were totally outmatched," Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez said of the '98 Outback Bowl. "I think it's hard for people to understand. Sometimes you just go out and people are better than you and you get whacked. And that's what happed to us.

"I heard all the stories and I heard all the rumblings about their speed against our non-speed. Yet that team….they were all freshmen and sophomores, those kids went to two Rose Bowls. Same guys. And then it was, well, ‘we learned and we recruited speed.' They were the same guys, they were just stronger, a little faster."

At the time the thought of that game as a springboard for a pair of Rose Bowl titles did not cross Alvarez' mind.

"I never think of it that way," he said. "You get so tunnel visioned, you don't think of it, but in retrospect when you look back and you take a look at where you were and how young we were….Those guys got better….They saw how you had to play against great teams."

The Badgers are not looking at Saturday's Outback Bowl as a rematch.

"I just look at it as an opportunity to play a very good football team from the Southeast Conference," Alvarez said. "We have the opportunity to play a top 10 team and better ourselves. It's a great challenge and that's what you go to bowl games for is to play good teams and see how you match up.

"That was a long time ago. It was different coach, different players on both sides of the ball. I do have a lot of respect for their program. I know we will have our hands full."

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