MADISON, WIS. – Corey Clement recalls the last game that piqued his interest as much as Wisconsin's season opener against No. 3 Alabama.
No, it was not the Badgers' 34-31 overtime victory over Auburn in the 2015 Outback Bowl. The game that stands out for Clement is the 59-0 loss to No. 6 Ohio State in the Big Ten title game last season.
"This game is going to bring out the best," Clement said of facing the Crimson Tide on Saturday in Arlington, Texas. "We just don't want to put on the same show we did against Ohio State."
If Clement could choose one word to describe that defeat …
"It was just embarrassing, especially being on a national stage for the Big Ten title," said Clement, limited to 14 yards on five carries in the loss. "For me personally that was my first Big Ten championship game and I go out like that. Not just me, but the team goes out like that."
Alabama, which won Bowl Championship Series titles in 2009, '11 and ''12 and reached the first College Football Playoff last season, is a 10½-point favorite.
"It is kind of a barometer on the season," Badgers senior linebacker Joe Schobert said. "They are one of the best opponents you could start the year off with.
"If you lose, it's not the biggest deal. But also if you win, you (still) have to show up every week after that."
The opportunity is similar to the one Wisconsin was given last season, when it opened against then-No. 13 LSU in Houston. The Badgers built a 24-7 lead early in the third quarter but faltered and lost 28-24.
suffered a 28-24 loss.
We should have won the game — in our opinions — and we just made a few too many mistakes and let it slip away," Schobert said. ""It was a good learning opportunity. We had a whole season to go and we proved to ourselves we can play."
Schobert remembers the victory over Auburn, Alabama's main rival in the Southeastern Conference West Division, more than the loss to Ohio State.
Alabama last season faced LSU and Auburn in November. The Crimson Tide survived to beat LSU in overtime 20-13, and outlasted Auburn 55-44 in one of the wilder games in that storied rivalry.
"Looking back, I don't like to think about Ohio State for obvious reasons," Schobert said. "The Auburn game, ending the season with the first bowl win in a couple years . it was just a great feeling sending the seniors off like that.
Barry Alvarez set aside his duties as athletic director to coach the Outback Bowl after head coach Gary Andersen left for Oregon State. Paul Chryst, Andersen's replacement, sat in the stands that day in Tampa, Fla., and watched UW end a bowl losing streak of four games.
Saturday will be his first game as UW's head coach.
"It's not about me," Chryst said. "And I've never gone into a game where I felt that it was about me. And I think that this game is a big game, and it's probably happening because of what both programs have done previous years.
"And I think we've talked to the players about that, and yet this game is solely about these two teams Saturday night. I think at the end of a season, at the end of whatever, as you can look back and say, what does it mean?
"What it really means is we've got a great opportunity to play against a heck of a football team that has recent and long tradition, and most importantly, it's the start of our season.
"And what a great opportunity we have to go play at an unbelievable venue against a really, really good football team."