Well, the dream is dead. Auburn lost, and thus, the world is not treated to a free Bloomin’ Onion tomorrow at Outback Steakhouse. Team Coconut Shrimp won (Wisconsin). They always say the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and unless you were a Wisconsin fan or inexplicably prefer coconut shrimp over the glorious, artery clogging but who cares, last meal on Death Row tastiness of the Bloomin’ Onion, your stomach groaned when Auburn missed a 45-yard field goal that clanged off the right upright in overtime.
Wisconsin man-balled their way to 400! net yards rushing against the Auburn Tigers in route to a 34-31 win that left the Auburn defense limping to the litter box with its head shaking in disgust.
Paul Chryst had to be thrilled looking upon at the group he’s inheriting … albeit without Melvin Gordon, who rumbled for 259 of those yards. Wisconsin won it the Wisconsin way, completely unable to foster a threat in the passing game all day but still plowing through on the ground.
But ironically, it was the passing game that gave the Badgers the key plays in the final, game tying drive in regulation. After a horrific late hit out of bounds that gave Wisconsin a free 15-yards, the Badgers had the choice … rely on their impotent passing game on 4th and 5 or kick a 51-yard field goal.
Wisconsin’s staff rolled the dice (not giving Barry Alverez the credit here. During the timeout, he was wandering around outside the huddle like he was looking for his keys) and Joel Stave completed a dart for the first down. A few plays later, it was Stave, again, rifling a pass on an out route and then making three smart incomplete throws into the end zone where we often see fatal mistakes (hello, Anu Solomon last night).
The loss had to be extra salty for Auburn running back Cameron Artis-Payne, who infamously said when Gordon suggested he could run in any conference, that he would have loved to play teams like Purdue, Illinois, and Northwestern like Gordon did.
As I always say … conferences are pretty much equal. One good player or team in one conference is going to still be good going somewhere else (Power 5, that is). Gordon departs just shy of Barry Sanders’ overall record, which obviously was done in fewer games by Barry, but it shows his greatness and Wisconsin’s ability to just reload at the position almost seamlessly.
Gordon set the record for a Wisconsin running back, which, when you look at that recent history, that’s no small potatoes. He departs as a truly special player, and Auburn goes back to the drawing board for next season, chasing down the magic of 2013.
Two outstanding programs; one outstanding game. The only thing you left it desiring is Wisconsin being Team Bloomin’ Onion rather than Team Coconut Shrimp.