Chizik In Tampa for Outback Ceremony

Gene Chizik with Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald (R)

Auburn signed the bowl contract to play the Northwestern Wildcats on Thursday at Raymond James Stadium.

Tampa, Fla.--Auburn coach Gene Chizik and Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald were in Tampa on Thursday formally sign the Outback Bowl contract.

Approximately 1,000 people attended the ceremony at Raymond James Stadium where Auburn will play Northwestern on New Year's Day.

"On behalf of our football program, I want to thank everyone associated with the Outback Bowl for selecting Auburn to play in this outstanding bowl game," Chizik said at the ceremony. "Our players can't wait to begin bowl practice and I know they are thrilled to be coming to Tampa to play in this bowl game."

The Auburn players, who have not practiced since their regular season finale vs. Alabama the day after Thanksgiving, are taking final exams this week. They are scheduled to practice on Saturday.

"We look forward to the challenge of facing a very good Northwestern team and hope that the Auburn fans fill the Tampa Bay area later this month," said Chizik, whose team brings a 7-5 record into the game vs. 8-4 Northwestern.

Northwestern's Fitzgerald said, "We're extremely proud of our football program, which for the second straight year finished the season by playing its best football. We're proud to represent the Big Ten on New Year's Day at the Outback Bowl against Auburn, a tremendous opponent from the Southeastern Conference. I'm thrilled for our 21 seniors, who are one of the winningest classes in program history.

"Our number one goal this season was to win our bowl game," he added. "Now the opportunity is in front of us and it is time to consistently prepare every day to achieve that goal."

Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said, "We're very excited about coming to the Outback Bowl and look forward to the Auburn fans painting Raymond James Stadium orange and blue on New Year's Day."

Auburn will making its third bowl trip to Tampa. The Tigers are 1-1 there with a win over Ohio State following the 1989 season and a loss to Penn State following the 1995 season.

Outback Bowl president Jim McVay said, "It's going to be a classic matchup."

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