Run and Shoot: G'Day From The Outback, Mate!

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G'Day From The Outback, Mate!

TAMPA, Fla. - Good morning and Happy New Year from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, where we're counting down to kickoff of the 2008 Outback Bowl. Today's matchup pits the No. 18 Badgers of the Univesity of Wisconsin against the No. 6 Volunteers of the University of Tennessee.

Here's a few things to keep an eye on as we get ready for the 11:00 AM kickoff here in Tampa.

- This is the first Big Ten vs. SEC matchup of the Bowl Season, with Michigan set to face Florida later today in the Capital One Bowl, and of course, Ohio State and LSU in the BCS title game on Monday. For what it's worth, the SEC has an 8-6 advantage in 14 previous Outback Bowl matchups against the Big Ten.

- This is only the second meeting between these teams and the first in over 26 years. Tennessee beat Wisconsin in the 1981 Garden State Bowl. In 11 all-time bowl games against the Big Ten, Tennessee is 6-5, althought you have to go back to 2002 and the Florida Citrus Bowl against Michigan to find Tennesee's last bowl win against the Big Ten. The Vols lost to Penn State in last year's Outback Bowl. Wisconsin, meanwhile, is 2-5 against the SEC in bowl games, although the last two came in 2006 and 2007, against Auburn and Arkansas, respectively, both in the Capital One Bowl.

- Neither of these teams has ever won in the Outback Bowl...sort of. Wisconsin is a clean 0-2 in this game with losses to Georgia in 1998 and 2005, while Tennessee lost its only Outback Bowl appearance last season. However, the Vols won here when it was called the Hall Of Fame Bowl, beating Boston College in 1993, a game that saw Heath Shuler named the game MVP, while the Badgers won a Hall of Fame Bowl in Tampa in 1995, defeating Duke 34-20. Wisconsin lost another Hall of Fame Bowl to Kentucky in Birmingham, Ala. in 1984, but that is not associated with the Outback Bowl and is not part of the bowl history.

- Of course, one of the biggest questions for the Badgers is the effectiveness of P.J. Hill, who hasn't seen much action since late October due to injury. Hill will not start today, but is on the two-deep for Wisconsin and is expected to play.

- Over on the other side, the Vols have a couple of personnel issues of their own, most notably wide receiver Lucas Taylor - the Tennessee leader with 1,000 yards on 73 catches - and linebacker Rico McCoy. Elix Wilson is expected to get the start in McCoy's place, while Erik Ainge has plenty of options when the time comes to throw the ball, and with an offensive line that's allowed only three sacks all season - the fewest in the Bowl Subdivision - against notoriously tough SEC defenses, Ainge will also have plenty of time.

Hopefully, we'll all have plenty of time to enjoy one heck of a football game. Keep checking back for updates throughout the game.

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