Tennessee and Wisconsin are renewing football ties for the first time in 26 years when the 2008 Outback Bowl kicks off New Year’s Day in Tampa, Fla.
The Vols, winners of the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division and owners of a 9-4 record this season, accepted their 47th overall bowl invitation Sunday afternoon for a second consecutive Outback Bowl appearance.
“We’re thrilled to have the Volunteers back in our Outback Bowl,” said Jim McVay, Outback Bowl President/CEO. “We think we have a classic matchup with a Wisconsin Badgers team at 9-3. We were looking for this kind of a matchup — two high-profile schools with excellent coaching staffs, great fan passion and winning football players who deserve to be playing on New Year’s Day.”
Tennessee’s trip to the west coast of Florida marks the Vols’ third appearance in the Outback Bowl. The Vols defeated Boston College 38-23 in the January 1993 game, then called the Hall of Fame Bowl, and lost 20-10 one year ago to Penn State. The win over Boston College was UT head coach Phillip Fulmer’s first game after being named permanent head coach of the Vols.
“We’re excited to be playing an outstanding football team like Wisconsin,” said Fulmer, who now in his 16th season owns a 146-45 overall record. “We’re excited about going back to Tampa. We had a great time last year, although we certainly hope to change the result.”
The Outback Bowl is celebrating its 22nd year and kicks off at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Jan. 1 in Raymond James Stadium. The game is telecast internationally on ESPN.
“The Outback Bowl represents a lot that is great about the bowl system,” UT athletics director Mike Hamilton said. “It’s an opportunity to play on Jan. 1 on a great network against a great opponent, and we look forward to our fans being there with us and representing the Tennessee Nation.”
Wisconsin, 9-3, finished fourth in the Big Ten Conference this season with a 5-3 record and makes its 19th all-time bowl appearance. The program has won nine of its last 12 bowl games, and second-year head coach Bret Bielema has begun his career with an impressive overall record of 21-4.
“We are excited about the opportunity to play Tennessee,” Bielema said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us but it should be a classic Big Ten-SEC matchup, something we’ve fared on the good side of the last two years in beating Arkansas and Auburn (2007 and 2006 Capital One bowls).”
Tennessee was the only SEC team to finish undefeated at home this season, going 7-0, but the Badgers matched that record at Camp Randall Stadium when they defeated Michigan 37-21 on Nov. 10. Wisconsin closed its season with a Nov. 17 win at Minnesota, and then accepted the Outback Bowl bid this past Wednesday.
The Vols and Badgers have met once previously in football, a 28-21 Tennessee victory in the 1981 Garden State Bowl. Played in East Rutherford, N.J., the game saw Willie Gault return a kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown and Steve Alatorre throw for a then-Vols bowl record 315 passing yards.
Tickets to the Outback Bowl are $65 each and fans can order online starting tonight at the UTSports.com Web site. Phone and over-the-counter sales begin Monday at the Thompson-Boling Arena ticket office from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time. Fans may order by dialing 656-1200 for local calls and 800-332-VOLS (8657) from outside the Knoxville area.
Travel packages are available through Dodd’s Travel at doddsathletictours.com/tennessee.
The Vols are the designated home team in this year’s game and will wear their orange jerseys.

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