UW defense photo

From left, Wisconsin Badgers safety Tanner McEvoy (11), nose tackle Arthur Goldberg (95), and linebacker Joe Schobert (58) give chase to Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14), resulting in a loss of two yards, in the fourth quarter of the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. M.P. KING -- State Journal

M.P. KING — State Journal archives

TAMPA, Fla. -- Wisconsin hoisted Barry Alvarez into the air for one more victory ride.

The school's career victory leader called it quits -- again -- after the 18th-ranked Badgers took down No. 19 Auburn 34-31 in overtime in the Outback Bowl.

It took a strong farewell performance by Melvin Gordon, a 25-yard field goal in overtime, and Alvarez's steady leadership in the wake of the abrupt departure of former coach Gary Andersen to get the job done.

It might not have been one of the New Year's Six bowl games, but Wisconsin and Auburn provided quite the undercard for the College Football Playoff.

"I've had a couple of those, and I like them," Alvarez, the school's athletic director for the past 11 years, said after being doused with a sports drink and carried off the field after stopping a four-game skid in bowl games.

"It's a little uncomfortable afterwards, but I like them. And it's special for those seniors. It meant a lot to them. They won a lot of games here. They haven't won a lot of bowl games. So they put a lot into it, they bought into it, they gave us strong leadership when it was needed, and now they can enjoy it."

Wisconsin improved to 9-4 in bowl games coached by Alvarez. He led the Badgers to 118 victories over 16 seasons before retiring in 2005, and has answered a plea from players to return to the sideline twice in the last three seasons to guide the team in a January game after losing their coach -- first Bret Bielema to Arkansas and then Andersen to Oregon State.

"Let me make something clear: I didn't want to coach these guys. I initially said I'd feel uncomfortable doing that again when they asked me. They asked me to sleep on it, that they would come back," Alvarez said, adding that he eventually agreed because "it's still about the kids or we wouldn't have jobs."

And now that he's done it, and tasted winning again?

"That's it," Alvarez said without hesitation. "No mas."

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