Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Outback Bowl picks Auburn, Northwestern

TAMPA — In a college football season full of surprises, the Outback Bowl got into the act by pulling a mild upset of its own Sunday, selecting Auburn and Northwestern for the Jan. 1 game at Raymond James Stadium.

The Tigers (7-5) are the first Southeastern Conference Western Division team picked since Alabama competed in the 1997 game. Northwestern (8-4) was chosen over Wisconsin, a program known to have one of college football's largest fan bases.

"We're excited," Outback Bowl president /CEO Jim McVay said. "We have a terrific matchup. I think they're going to put on a heck of a show."

Though the participants didn't become official until Sunday, various media outlets in Alabama reported last week that Auburn was heading to Tampa. The Tigers had the same overall record as Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee, but because the bowl traditionally goes with a team from the SEC East, Auburn didn't appear to be a likely option.

But to bowl organizers, Auburn, which nearly knocked off undefeated Alabama two weekends ago, made the most sense.

"I think Auburn can play with anybody," McVay said.

Northwestern was just 2-2 at one point and had a loss to lowly Syracuse on its record. But the Wildcats got hot late, beating previously undefeated Iowa 17-10 on Nov. 7, then getting past Illinois (21-16) and Wisconsin (33-31). Northwestern and Wisconsin (9-3) tied for third in the Big Ten at 5-3.

Many bowl projections had the Badgers coming to the Outback. Wisconsin, which played in the 2008 game, averaged 80,109 fans per home game this season. Northwestern had a home attendance average of 24,190.

"Head to head was really the final decision." McVay said. "(The Wildcats) won the game, and they deserved to be there."

Both teams have high-powered offenses. The Tigers are led by standout running back Ben Tate; Northwestern has talented quarterback Mike Kafka.

The Outback will be a homecoming for first-year Auburn coach Gene Chizik, a Clearwater High alum. He said Sunday that his mother and many childhood friends still live in the area.

"It's always really neat to be able to go back to where you grew up," Chizik said. "For me, personally, it's going to be really exciting."

fast facts

Outback tickets

They can be purchased at Ticketmaster outlets, by calling toll-free at 1-800-745-3000 or online at Prices start at $70.

Outback Bowl picks Auburn, Northwestern 12/06/09 [Last modified: Sunday, December 6, 2009 11:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs-Jaguars was NFL's lowest-rated ESPN game since 2005


    It is just the preseason, and it is the Jaguars, but Thursday night's Bucs-Jags preseason game earned a 1.6 rating on ESPN, which is the lowest-rated preseason game (excluding NFL Network) in 12 years, according to Sports Media Watch.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, left, talks with coach Dirk Koetter during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
  2. Roberto Aguayo, Jonathan Drouin, Tim Beckham are coming for revenge


    Forget the Three Tenors.

    Make it the Three Terrors.

    The 2017 Unfulfilled Expectations Tour is about to hit Tampa Bay.

    From left, former Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo, ex-Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin and former Rays infielder Tim Beckham. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times; DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times; Getty Images]
  3. Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier is congratulated in the dugout after scoring on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Lucas Duda in the sixth inning of the game against the Seattle Mariners at Tropicana Field on Friday.
  4. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz celebrates his Trop-record 482-foot home run in the ninth inning.
  5. Rays journal: Kevin Kiermaier returns, Mallex Smith sent to Triple A

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It didn't take CF Kevin Kiermaier long to make his presence felt during his return Friday to the Rays lineup. Kiermaier pretended to have Mariners DH Nelson Cruz's first-inning line drive lined up even as the ball went past him to his right and to the wall.

    Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) flies out in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.