Wisconsin fans poured down I-65 aiming for Nashville and their team’s appearance in the Music City Bowl. Auburn fans had a shorter path to travel and consequently, their fan base outweighed the red and white. The home of country western tunes hosts this bowl game with intense enthusiasm and the city comes alive as the contest is played on New Years Eve.
The night before the two teams collided, the bands had their moment to battle on Music Row in the heart of Nashville. From one end of the street marched the Tiger Band with fans blaring behind them. From the opposite end stormed the Badger Band high stepping their way to meet in the middle. Like a classic duel, the bands began to gunsling traditional songs back and forth. Fans added ammo by trying to outcheer their opponent after their band’s song concluded. The teams ended the battle by playing and singing their team’s fight song, while fans began to exchange banter that would make Dolly Parton blush. Many fans spent the night gallivanting in Nashville, while others head for their hotels to prepare for the early eleven o’clock kickoff.
The music continued on New Year’s Eve as country western bands surrounded the stadium to add Nashville’s flavor to the bowl game. Wisconsin and Auburn’s bands continued their battle with a march to a secluded spot outside the stadium followed by pep rally performances for their fans. Auburn’s team arrived in traditional style with their famed Tiger Walk. Head coach Tommy Tuberville led the team off the bus to a welcome by thousands of Tiger faithful prepared for the famed “Tiger Walk.” The fans created a tunnel from the bus to the stadium cheering their beloved orange and blue along the way. Excitement swelled all around the stadium in anticipation for the Music City Bowl.
Defense set the tone for the game as Auburn owned a 7-6 lead at halftime. The Tigers continued to prowl with a lead extending touchdown that tallied the score at 14-6. Auburn played fierce defense that appeared impenetrable. However, Badger receiver Lee Evans brought down perhaps his most acrobatic touchdown reception of his career that tied the game in the fourth quarter with an additional two-point conversion. The Tigers, led by tailbacks Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown continued their steamroll through the Badger defense. Brown scored two drives later to capture the lead. On Wisconsin’s next drive, Auburn’s defense jolted the ball from QB Jim Sorgi and recovered it inside the Badger red zone. Soon after, Williams scored the capper with under two minutes. Wisconsin let the game slip and Auburn certainly was not generous.
The party in Nashville continued in the evening as Auburn and Wisconsin fans rang in the New Year together. I bumped into a few Tiger fans at an establishment on Music Row. My initial concern was that Auburn might come off haughty with their rather convincing win. Rather, they complimented Wisconsin’s enthusiasm and made efforts to keep the conversation pleasant. In addition, I found a sure method of impressing the Tiger faithful around us. All I had to do was share a few ugly words about Alabama and suddenly I had Auburn fans cheering and raving.