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Badgers touch down in Tampa

Travel Day Photo Gallery

It's officially bowl week!

A day that began for the Badgers at 9 a.m. with some light conditioning and a quick lift at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, ended with a terrific Outback Steakhouse Team Dinner in Tampa at around 7 p.m.

Returning from a brief 72-hour break for the Christmas holiday, the Badgers began filing into the locker room at the McClain Center around 7:30 a.m. By the time 9 a.m. rolled around, the players were shaking out the cobwebs with some light running and lifting. At 10:30 a.m., the buses rolled, heading to Dane County Regional Airport.

Despite a little bit of a delay that resulted in some added time in the Madison airport, UW's plane touched down at Tampa International Airport at 5 p.m. As you can see from the photo gallery, some of the upperclassmen were able to ride in style, taking advantage of the many amenities afforded on the Boeing 747-40.

Because of the delay, the Badgers wasted little time, heading right from the airport to the A La Carte Event Pavilion for the Outback Bowl Welcome Dinner. Between the Badgers and their Outback Bowl opponent, the Auburn Tigers, the two teams combined to eat almost 5,000 pounds of Outback Steakhouse food. That included 750 pounds of sirloin steak, 750 pounds of chicken and 900 pounds of ribs. Also consumed were almost 400 pounds of Steakhouse Potatoes, 1,600 coconut shrimp and, of course, 160 bloomin' onions. Needless to say, no one went home hungry.

With dinner ending around 7 p.m., the Badgers were finally able to check in to their hotel, the Westin Harbour Island, at around 7:30 p.m. Saturday will bring the Badgers' first practice, followed by a visit to the children's wing of Tampa General Hospital.

Be sure to follow the Outback Bowl 2015 blog for all the happenings in Tampa. Also be sure to check out BOWL CENTRAL, especially those Badger fans heading to Florida for the game.

Your home away from home in Tampa

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Badger fans traveling to Tampa for the Outback Bowl are invited to utilize a service provided by Wisconsin Athletics to make your bowl trip a more pleasant experience.

The Wisconsin Athletics Bowl Central Fan Information Center is your home for answers to many questions that may arise during your bowl experience. The Fan Information Center will have the latest schedules and updates about fan events including UW Band performances.

While the Wisconsin Athletic Ticket Office is the primary source for ticket-related information, the Bowl Central Fan Information Center will serve as a secondary outlet for those with ticket-related questions.

The Bowl Central Fan Information Center will be located at the Westin Harbour Island Hotel. Fans are invited to stop by during our office hours for answers to your questions as well as the latest news and updates regarding bowl events.

Fans may call anytime for recorded news and updates. In addition, Email and text messaging can also be used to get answers. The latest updates will also be posted at BOWL CENTRAL.

Bowl Central Fan Information Center - a service of Wisconsin Athletics

Office Hours:

Tuesday, Dec. 30: 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 31: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Located at:
Westin Harbour Island Hotel
725 South Harbour Island Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33602

Phone or Text Message: 608-520-1010 Email: uwbowlcentral@athletics.wisc.edu

General Visitor Information from Visit Tampa Bay:
(813) 223-1111 or (800) 44-TAMPA

Wisconsin Athletic Ticket Office Hours in Tampa Bay

Office Hours:
Wednesday, Dec. 31: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Located at:
Westin Harbour Island Hotel
725 South Harbour Island Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33602

Gameday Will Call - Thursday, Jan. 1
Raymond James Stadium - Gate D
10:30 a.m. - Halftime

*Times listed are eastern

Heading to Tampa?

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Are you among the thousands of Badgers fans heading to Tampa for the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1? Then we've got some great info for you.

Badger fans from across the nation are invited to several fan events in conjunction with the 2015 Outback Bowl.

Clearwater Beach Day
Tuesday, Dec. 30 - 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Hilton Clearwater Beach
400 Mandalay Avenue
Clearwater Beach, Florida
Tickets: FREE, no ticket required
Join the teams, their marching bands and cheerleaders as they enjoy the sun and beaches at the Hilton Clearwater Beach next to Pier 60. This fun day includes live music, skydivers, a tug-of-war and other contests, plus plenty of food and festivities.

Wisconsin Outback Bowl Pep Rally
Tuesday, Dec. 30 - 6 p.m.
Channelside Bay Plaza
615 Channelside Drive
Tickets: FREE, no ticket required
Get ready for the big game with the UW Band, Spirit Squad and of course, Bucky Badger. Show your Badger spirit at the official Outback Bowl Pep Rally.

Battle of the Bands at Busch Gardens
Wednesday, Dec. 31 - TBD
Busch Gardens
10165 N. McKinley Drive
Tickets:Numerous ticket packages available at buschgardens.com
Enjoy a performance by the UW Band, UW Spirit Squad and Bucky Badger as they compete against the Auburn Band and Spirit Squad. Following the performance, stick around and enjoy the many attractions at Busch Gardens.

New Year's Eve Parade and Band Blast
Wednesday, Dec. 31 - 5:30-8 p.m.
Seventh Avenue - Ybor City
Tickets: FREE, no ticket required
The parade will feature floats and fifteen marching bands including the UW Marching Band. A "Battle of the Bands" between Wisconsin and Auburn will follow the parade.

Badger Huddle at the Outback Bowl
Thursday, Jan. 1 - 9-11:30 a.m.
Location: Outback Bowl Corporate Village -- Look for the WAA tent
Across the street (Dale Mabry Hwy) from Raymond James Stadium in the soccer fields at Hillsborough Community College
Before the Outback Bowl kicks off, get your kicks at the official Wisconsin pre-game party.

Times are EASTERN. Dates, times and locations of events are subject to change without notice.

Badger fans headed to Tampa are encouraged to visit BOWL CENTRAL for the latest updates on fan events associated with the Outback Bowl.

Badgers break for the holidays

Head coach Barry Alvarez (we get to use that term for about another week) and the Badger football team held its last practice in Madison on Tuesday morning. UW practiced for about an hour and 15 minutes inside the McClain Center before the travel squad did some conditioning. The team then exchanged holiday greetings and departed on a mini three-day break before reconvening in Madison on Friday morning.

"We're trying to get them healthy right now but I've been pleased with how they practiced," Alvarez said. "It's fun for me overseeing it. It's humbling when the kids ask you to do it, they want you out here. That's why we all do it ... because of our student-athletes."

There is an interesting dynamic for Alvarez this time around that he hasn't been faced with in his Hall of Fame career; coaching his grandson. Redshirt freshman safety Joe Ferguson is a contributor on special teams and in some sub packages on defense for the Badgers.

"Joe doesn't want anyone to know I'm his grandfather," Alvarez joked. "And I respect that. But it's kind of fun."

Alvarez also told a story of the family having Christmas dinner the other night and Joe calling him "coach" for the first time.

"I thought that was pretty cool, "Alvarez said.

Ferguson, a Madison native, won't have to travel far now that the Badgers have a couple days off. But there are a number of players taking advantage of the time off to get home for the first time since fall camp started in early August.

Sophomore cornerback Sojourn Shelton is one of a handful of players from Florida taking advantage of the opportunity to fly home and then meet the team in Tampa on Dec. 26. Shelton hails from Ft. Lauderdale, about a four-hour drive from Tampa.

Junior fullback Derek Watt's family lives less than an hour from Madison but he was one of the players scurrying to the airport after practice. He had to catch a flight to Houston where his brother, J.J. (you may have heard of him), was hosting the Watt family Christmas. Thankfully he and backfield mate Corey Clement were able to make it to their gates on time.

UW also packed the equipment truck Tuesday as it was scheduled to begin its journey to Tampa in the afternoon. The team is scheduled to depart Madison on Friday at 11:30 a.m. CT and arrive in Florida at 3:30 p.m. ET. Friday's first activity is the Outback Steakhouse Team Welcome Dinner. Bloomin' Onions for all!

Be sure to follow along with our Outback Bowl 2015 blog for all the news and inside info as the Badgers prepare to take on Auburn on Jan. 1.

Infographic: A record-setting win over Nebraska

A graphical look at the 22nd-ranked Badgers' record-setting day in a 59-24 win over No. 11 Nebraska on Saturday:


Infographic: Wisconsin 37, Western Illinois 3

A graphical look at the Badgers' 37-3 win over Western Illinois at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday: 


Andersen's answer: You're on scholarship

Walk-ons have been a backbone of the Wisconsin football program since Barry Alvarez put an emphasis on the program when he arrived in Madison in 1990. Since then, 76 players that walked onto the team at UW have gone on to be awarded scholarships. Well, make it 77. 

Head coach Gary Andersen added another member to that list Sunday as the Badgers gathered for a team meeting on the eve of their first practice sessions of Fall Camp 2014. At the end of a trivia game -- bucket hats were the prize for correct answers -- Andersen posed a question to sophomore long snapper Connor Udelhoven: How many walk-ons have earned a scholarship under the current coaching staff's watch?

Udelhoven missed the multiple-choice question (the correct answer is eight, well, now nine) but that had no bearing on Andersen's decision to add him to the ranks of the players on scholarship.

One for the defense, one for the offense


- Photos: Morning Practice  |  Afternoon Practice

The Badgers split up and went their separate ways again Tuesday for the second day of practices inside Camp Randall Stadium, with one group teeing it up at 6:20 a.m. and the other taking its turn at 1 p.m.

As was the case Monday, the 16-period practices were shorter than what the team would usually face in the first week of camp, but the split-squad approach actually allowed players to take part in more reps than normal. Both sessions followed the same script, with the offense and defense squaring off in a third-down pass skeleton competition to close out practice.

The defense won bragging rights -- and the right to watch the offense be subjected to a little extra running -- in the morning practice, with CB Sojourn Shelton's breakup of a Tanner McEvoy pass intended for WR Robert Wheelwright among the highlights. It was a different story in the afternoon, with the offense getting the last laugh thanks to a couple of connections between QB Joel Stave and WR Reggie Love during the first team's reps and a nice catch and run by freshman RB Taiwan Deal on a pass from QB Bart Houston to cap the No. 2 unit's turn.

The Badgers' starting QB contenders, McEvoy and Stave, switched spots on Day 2 after Stave got the morning call and McEvoy took the afternoon shift on Monday.

Wednesday brings another set of split-squad workouts but marks the team's first practices in "Badger Gear," a limited set of pads. The full pads come out Friday, something head coach Gary Andersen is anxiously awaiting if his post-practice tweet is any indication.

Happy new year: Badgers open fall camp

Photos: Morning Practice  |  Afternoon Practice

The month-long march to a much-anticipated season opener began Monday for the Wisconsin football team, which took the field at Camp Randall Stadium in shifts for the first practices of the 2014 season.

The 14th-ranked Badgers opened fall camp -- and, in essence, their preparation for No. 13 LSU -- with a pair of split-squad sessions aimed at maximizing the number of reps for each player. The divided approach will continue Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before the Badgers strap on full pads for the first time on Friday.

The morning session's 6:20 a.m. start time meant football under the lights for the first group of players, who drilled for 16 periods with a number of their teammates who were slotted into the afternoon session on hand as spectators. "If they think that they can gain something out of a practice, then they can come in and watch it," UW head coach Gary Andersen said of the non-participating players. "If I was fighting for a spot, pretty good chance I'd be sitting in those stands."

"I like the schedule," he added. "I think it's great. The reps were fantastic."

One highlight came from freshman kicker Rafael Gaglianone, who went 5-for-5 on field goal tries to open the practice, including an on-the-money boot from 49 yards that had plenty of yardage to spare. "You're going to make me comment on a kicker after one day?" Andersen quipped when he was asked about Gaglianone's performance after the day's second practice.

"He hit them all and he was very confident," Andersen said. "He said, 'Don't worry, coach, I'll make them all.' It was good. I like it. It's better than saying, 'Coach, I plan on missing three today.'"

Also drawing strong reviews was freshman wide receiver George Rushing, whose exploits in the morning session included a one-handed catch he made despite losing a shoe while running his route, and afternoon participant Taiwan Deal, who Andersen is hopeful can take the role of No. 3 tailback behind junior Melvin Gordon and sophomore Corey Clement.

Vote Jump Around

- Vote for Jump Around

The Badgers have reached another final four -- and, this time, the result is completely in the hands of Wisconsin fans.

"Jump Around" has advanced to the semifinal round of the SiriusXM College Sports Nation Traditions Tournament, where it is facing off against Arkansas' tradition of "Calling the Hogs" -- the contest's defending champion from 2013.

Voting for the contest is taking place on the SiriusXM College Sports Nation Facebook page and runs through 11 p.m. (CT) on Sunday.

After holding a sizable lead early, Jump Around was staring at a deficit of roughly 2,000 votes as of Thursday morning. This over this? No way. So go vote!