Capital One Bowl


Wisconsin (8-3) vs. #7/9 Auburn (9-2)
January 2, 2006 - 1:00 p.m. EST
ABC Sports - Orlando, Florida

Wisconsin and Auburn are set to battle in the Capital One Bowl for just the third time in the schools' histories.  The two teams met in the 2003 Music Bowl, but before that had been strangers since a 7-7 tie all the way back in 1931.

The contest will mark the final game on the sidelines for Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez after 16 years of rebuilding his entire program.  The Badgers had been to just six bowl games in the 100 years before Alvarez's tenure, and the matchup with Auburn will be their 11th in the coach's 16 years.  Alvarez will be focusing on his duties as athletic director after being the 10th coach in Big Ten history to win over 100 games at one school, and the only coach to win two consecutive Rose Bowls. 

Last season the Tigers were one of three undefeated teams in the nation and have followed up that campaign with a No. 7 ranking that they earned with a 9-2 record.  After being unranked following an opening-day loss to Georgia Tech, Auburn has come back to finish the regular season in the top 10 of every major poll.  Coached by Tommy Tuberville, the Tigers were unsure how they would fare after losing four starters to the NFL as first-round draft picks, but with a January bowl date, most would deem this season a success. 

Wisconsin Bowl Record: 8-8
Auburn Bowl Record: 19-2

Wisconsin on Offense...
Wisconsin's Brian Calhoun, a first team All-Big Ten and second-team All-America selection, led the nation with 21 rushing touchdowns and will be the Badgers' biggest offensive threat against Auburn.  Calhoun racked up over 1,400 yards this season on the ground and added 563 more and two touchdowns receiving. He created all of that offense without giving up any fumbles. 

Quarterback John Stocco also had a strong statistical year in his junior campaign, throwing for 2,619 yards and 19 touchdowns.  His favorite target was second-team All-American Brandon Williams, who averaged 17.4 yards per catch. Jonathon Orr accounted for 614 yards and eight touchdowns in the regular season.  Also receiving post-season honors on the offensive side of the ball was tackle Joe Thomas, who was a first-team All-Big Ten honoree.

The trio of All-Conference choices has helped the Badger offense score 35.1 points per game on 383 yards of total offense.  The offense will be counted on to put up big numbers against a stingy Auburn defense

Pts./ Game
Pts. Allowed/ Game
Time of Possession
Yds Allowed/ Game
Yds/ Game
Yds Allowed/ Game
Completion %

if the Badgers want to avenge their 2003 loss to the Tigers.

Auburn on Offense...
Auburn has rebounded well after losing three players in their offensive backfield to the NFL as first-round draft picks.  Senior running back Kenny Irons has prevented a lot of the expected downfall by helping to improve the offensive numbers from a year ago.  Last year, the Tigers averaged 32 points and 420.7 yards per game, and this season have averaged 34.2 points and 425.6 yards per game. 

Irons has accounted for over 1,200 yards on the ground and 13 touchdowns by averaging over five yards per carry and was a first-team All-SEC selection.  Quarterback Brandon Cox has thrown for 14 touchdowns and 2,187 yards in the air.  Cox has spread the ball among several receivers, with Ben Obamanu catching five touchdowns, Devin Aromashodu having 478 yards and four touchdowns, and Anthony Mix adding his 277 yards and two scores.  The offensive unit is stabilized by first-team All-American lineman Marcus McNeill, the SEC's Jacobs Trophy winner for the best blocker in the conference.

Wisconsin on Defense...
The Badger defense has allowed just 13 rushing touchdowns this season, holding opponents to under five yards per rushing attempt.  All-Big Ten selection Joe Stellmacher led a unit of defensive backs to hold opposing quarterbacks to just seven yards per pass, and was second on the team with 81 tackles on the year.  Senior linebacker Dontez Sanders leads the team with 89 total tackles this season, and intercepted a ball.  Roderic Rogers and Jack Ikegwuonu each returned an interception for a touchdown.  Rogers led the team with three picks, and Ikegwuonu had two of the team's 16. 

Another senior linebacker, Mark Zelewski, had 10.5 tackles for loss to lead the Badgers, and forced opponents to lose 34 yards.  As a unit, with 63 tackles for negative yardage, Wisconsin took away earn almost 300 yards on the year.  

Auburn on Defense...
A tough Auburn defense has allowed only six passing touchdowns, and 17 overall on the season.  They also gave up an average of only 104 rushing yards per game.  A pair of sophomore defensive ends, Stanley McClover and Quentin Groves, have combined for 20 tackles for losses and 13 of Auburn's 36 sacks. 

Junior free safety Will Herring leads the team with 64 tackles and was a second-team All-SEC pick.  Not far behind him is senior linebacker Travis Williams with 62 tackles, one interception and two forced fumbles.  Overall, the Tigers' defense has limited the opposition to just 14.3 points per game, and on average held opposing teams to under 300 yards per game, while their teammates on offense put up over 425 per game.

Keys to the Game...
Though the Auburn defense isn't easy to navigate through, the Badgers will need to score a lot of points in what will likely be a high-scoring affair.  Calhoun will need to come up big for Wisconsin - bigger than Iron, his counterpart.  Though Calhoun's season totals are higher, Iron's numbers have been improving all season and he appears poised to give the Badger defense headaches.  The defense will have to find a way to get to Iron through McNeill and Duckworth if it is going to shut down the Auburn offense.

The Badger offense should be helped by good field position if they can give their first-team All-Big Ten punter, Ken Debauche an opportunity to pin the Tigers deep.  Debauche's counterpart, Kody Bliss, was also a first-team all-conference selection in the SEC and the two should battle to give their respective teams any possible edge in the battle for positioning.