After nearly a week of anticipation in regards to who the Badgers' opponent in the Alamo Bowl would be, news came to Wisconsin today they will face No. 14 Colorado (9-4 overall).
"They are a quality opponent but we feel good about our chances in this game," senior offensive lineman Al Johnson said. "We are excited to play a good opponent, which they are despite losing two games towards the end of the season. They are still a very good team."
The Badgers will no doubt be more familiar with Colorado than the other possible Big XII opponents, as ex-Northwestern Coach Gary Barnett and Barry Alvarez have squared off many times over the years when Barnett was still coaching in the Big Ten.
There certainly will be some familiar faces to a certain member of the Colorado coaching staff as well. Colorado Graduate Assistant Jason Eck is in his first year at Colorado after having left Madison after last season. He worked with the offensive line at UW and helps the entire offensive staff at Colorado.
"Our grad assistant that was here for four years while I was here, Jason Eck is a grad assistant and offensive line coach over their now," said Johnson. "So there is a little bit of connection there."
Because of the coaching staff, which has a good deal of experience in the Big Ten, Colorado's style is comparable to many of the systems throughout the Big Ten. The Buffaloes' power running game has carried them throughout the season, and although star running back Chris Brown is banged up, he is still the third leading rusher in the nation with 158.5 yards per game.
"They certainly are a good team and they are physical," linebacker Jeff Mack said. I like how they play. They have a similar style that's reminiscent of the style that you see in the Big Ten."
Defensive lineman Jake Sprague is one Badger who is all too familiar with Barnett. Had Barnett stayed at Northwestern, Sprague would have spent his college years in Evanston.
"Jake Sprague had committed to play at Northwestern, when Barnett left and then came here," Johnson said. "Jake knows the running back [Brian Calhoun] from Oak Creek, so there is a little bit of connection [through Jake] as well."
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