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5 Greatest games in Outback Bowl history

On New Year’s Day, Michigan will take on South Carolina in the 32nd annual Outback Bowl. The game started in 1986, originally as the Hall of Fame Bowl, and was named the Outback Bowl in 1995 when Outback Steakhouse became the title sponsor. It was the same year that the bowl signed an agreement with the Big Ten and SEC, hosting one team from each conference for the annual matchup.

Of the 22 different schools to have played in this bowl game, no two teams have appeared more than Michigan (7th appearance – most all-time) and South Carolina (6th appearance – second-most all-time).

The game is played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Like any bowl game, the Outback Bowl can give us some memorable games due partially to the matchups and the fact that it’s a relatively high profile bowl since it’s on New Year’s day. In its 31 year run, here are the 5 most memorable Outback Bowl games:

2015 | WISCONSIN 34, AUBURN 31 (OT)

The No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers faced the No. 19 Auburn Tigers. Despite being ranked lower, Auburn was a 7-point favorite entering the game.

It was a tale of two halves between the Badgers and Tigers in this edition of the Outback Bowl. Both teams combined for just 21 points in the first half (AUB, 14-7) before exploding for a combined 41 points in the second half, certainly unfamiliar territory for both teams, traditionally speaking.

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Wisconsin, starting overtime on offense, quickly got the ball near the goal line before being stopped and being forced to kick a 25-yard field goal to take a 34-31 lead. When Auburn got the ball, the Wisconsin defense pushed them backwards on all three downs. Auburn attempted a 45-yard field goal, but the ball went off the upright and didn’t go through and sealed the win for Wisconsin.


The No. 10 South Carolina Gamecocks squared off with the No. 18 Michigan Wolverines for what would be a prequel to this year’s Outback Bowl. This game was most noted for “the hit,” a play that seemingly gave South Carolina the momentum late to win the game.

USC entered this game having won four consecutive games to finish the regular season at 11-2 overall, whereas Michigan was wrapping up the year with Devin Gardner as the team’s No. 1 quarterback, following an injury to Denard Robinson midway through the season.

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Michigan struggled to get anything going early on as South Carolina grabbed the momentum early in the first quarter up 14-3 But the Wolverines fought their way back and carried a 22-21 lead into the final 15 minutes; eventually a 28-27 lead with under four minutes left. With a chance to win, Dylan Thompson found Bruce Ellington sneaking past the secondary for a game-winning touchdown with just seconds remaining.


Usually, memorable games occur between top-tier ranked teams. This game is one of the exceptions. The Auburn Tigers and Northwestern Wildcats were both unranked, Auburn only being 7-5; Northwestern at 8-4. The game would end up being a complete shootout.

This started off as another instance of the commonly-used narrative “Big Ten teams can’t hang with SEC teams in bowl game.” Auburn raced out to a 14-0 barely ten minutes into the game and led Northwestern 21-7 at the break. Then the Wildcats turned into the cardiac cats, overcoming multiple 14-point deficits in the second half to force overtime.

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The Tigers took a 34-31 lead to start overtime and proceeded to give Northwestern not one, but two field attempts to tie — thanks in part to an overturned fumble call and a roughing the kicker penalty. But the ‘Cats came up empty on both to sure up a win for Auburn.

2000 | GEORGIA 28, PURDUE 25 (OT)

This was the first sporting event of the new millennium was the Outback Bowl on January 1 of 2000, and it started the turn of the new millennium with a bang. The game featured the No. 19 Purdue Boilermakers against the No. 21 Georgia Bulldogs. All the talk was of Purdue quarterback Drew Brees as he made his case for the 1999 Heisman Trophy.

This one stings if you’re a fan of Purdue. The Brees-led Boilermakers cruised out to a 19-0 lead after one quarter and eventually a 25-0 early in the second. Purdue appeared ready to end the game before halftime. That’s when Georgia began to chip away at their lead, cutting it down to 25-10 at halftime. The Boilermkers in that first half missed one point-after try and a pair of two-point attempts as well.

The miscues continued for the black and gold in the second half as the ‘Dogs continued to climb back. Purdue missed a pair of field goal tries, their only scoring chances in the second half, as Georgia fought to tie it up and force overtime. And after missing a third FG attempt, Georgia nailed their’s on the ensuing drive to stun Purdue.

The 25-point comeback was the largest comeback in bowl game history. Despite playing for the losing team, Drew Brees was awarded the Outback Bowl MVP.


Any game that goes into multiple overtime is likely to be a thriller. The Outback Bowl matchup in 2012 featured the No. 17 Michigan State Spartans against the No. 16 Georgia Bulldogs. The fact that they were one rank away from each other was maybe a sign that it was going to be a close down to the wire game.

Like a number of games on this list, one team jumped out in front and surrendered a big lead as the game played on. Georgia in this one controlled the first half, going up 16-0 heading into halftime, holding the MSU offense to just 72 total yards.

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The Spartans finally got things going in the second half with two scores in the third and exchanging touchdowns with Georgia in the fourth quarter to force overtime. The defense dominated in the extra sessions. In the first overtime, both teams exchanged scoreless drives before swapping three-pointers in the second OT. After converting on their field goal try in OT No. 3, the Spartans turned away (literally) a FG attempt from Georgia to seal a win.

This post first appeared on Detroit Sports Nation | Giving The Fans A Voice, please read the originial post: here

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5 Greatest games in Outback Bowl history


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