Wisconsin Rolls Past Auburn, 24-10 In The Capital One Bowl
Barry Alvarez leaves Wisconsin with a win. His offensive stars and a surprisingly stingy defense made sure of that.
Brian Calhoun rushed for 213 yards, John Stocco passed for 301 and Brandon Williams had 173 yards receiving, lifting the 21st-ranked Badgers to a 24-10 victory over No. 7 Auburn in the Capital One Bowl on Monday.
It was a fitting farewell for Alvarez, who led Wisconsin to eight bowl wins in 16 seasons and now will focus on his duties as athletic director. The Badgers (10-3) were 1-5 all-time in the postseason before his arrival and sent him off with his fourth 10-win season.
They were 10 1/2-point underdogs entering the game but dominated the Tigers (9-3) throughout, amassing 311 yards and a 17-0 lead in the first half.
Alvarez’s players rushed over to hug him as he ran onto the field celebrating another big win.
The 59-year-old then got a chance to celebrate with the lingering fans before leaving the field for the final time.
“They’re the best,” Alvarez gushed into a microphone on the field.
Architect of numerous firsts for Wisconsin, Alvarez became the first Badgers coach to win his finale since Milt Bruhn in 1966. Defensive coordinator Bret Bielema takes over as coach.
Calhoun, a junior pondering a leap to the NFL, rushed 30 times and scored on a 33-yard run in the fourth quarter. Stocco was 15-of-27 with two touchdown passes, a 30-yarder to Williams and a 13-yarder to Owen Daniels.
Williams also had four carries for 35 yards as the Badgers dismantled a defense that came in allowing only 294 yards per game.
The Tigers edged back into the game after trailing 17-0 at halftime, but the Southeastern Conference’s top offense never got going.
John Vaughn capped Auburn’s first drive of the second half with a 19-yard field goal. Then, Taylor Mehlaff missed his second long field goal, a 41-yarder.
Auburn then put together a 15-yard drive that included two fourth-down conversions. Brandon Cox hit Ben Obomanu for a 13-yard gain on fourth-and-10 from the 19.
The Tigers were pushed back 3 yards on their next three plays, but Cox hit a leaping Courtney Taylor in the end zone on fourth down two plays into the final quarter. It was Taylor’s first touchdown catch of the season, making it 17-10.
Calhoun quickly snatched the momentum back for the Badgers by sprinting for his touchdown. He also had a 60-yarder, a 27-yarder and a 17-yarder to set up Wisconsin’s first three scores.
Calhoun became only the second player in Division I history to post 1,500 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving in the same season. Pacific’s Ryan Benjamin did it in 1991.
Calhoun has said he hasn’t made up his mind on whether he will skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
It was the second-best rushing effort in Capital One history, behind Fred Taylor’s 234 in 1998 for Florida.
The Tigers were held scoreless in the first half for the first time this season and finished with only 236 yards. Wisconsin gained 548.
The Badgers didn’t resemble a defense that came in giving up 432.5 yards per game.
Under constant pressure, Cox was 15-of-33 for 137 yards with an interception on the second play of the game.
Kenny Irons, the SEC’s leading rusher, managed only 88 yards on 22 carries and fumbled on the Tigers’ second series.
Auburn had won three consecutive bowl games and finished in a tie for the best four-year run in the program’s history with 39 wins.
Impressive season-ending wins over Georgia and Alabama made the Tigers heavy favorites for the game.