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Gary Andersen leaves Wisconsin to become Oregon State head coach

Head coach Gary Andersen of the Wisconsin Badgers

Head coach Gary Andersen of the Wisconsin Badgers watches his team play against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the second quarter of the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 6, 2014 in Indianapolis. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Joe Robbins

Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen has stepped down to become the head coach at Oregon State.

Andersen, the Badgers' coach for the past two seasons, informed the team of his decision Wednesday afternoon, the school said.

Wisconsin (10-3) is scheduled to play in the Outback Bowl against Auburn (8-4) on Jan. 1. Athletic director Barry Alvarez said he hoped to have a replacement in place by then.

Andersen replaces Mike Riley, who left the Pac-12's Beavers to accept the head coaching job at Nebraska after the dismissal of Bo Pelini. Oregon State finished this season 5-7 and had two conference wins, but one came at home against then-No. 7 Arizona State.

Andersen thanked Wisconsin in a prepared statement.

"We worked very hard together and accomplished some great things. I had the opportunity to meet and coach some great young men and I look forward to watching them as they continue their careers and move through life," he said.

The Badgers had an inconsistent season, losing two of their first five games but recovering to win seven straight. But the season ended with a thud when the team was blown out by Ohio State 59-0 in the Big Ten championship game.

Alvarez said he was taken aback by Andersen's announcement.

"I thought Gary and his staff did a very good job. Nobody likes the way they played in the last game, but that happens occasionally," Alvarez said. "I really don't care about style of play on offense and defense, as long as it's sound ... We were sound with what we did."

Overall, Andersen was 19-7 as Wisconsin's coach. He came to the Badgers from Utah State, where he spent four seasons.

Record-breaking Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, a Heisman Trophy finalist, went to Twitter with his reaction, simply posting "WOW!!!"

Gordon leads the nation with 2,336 yards rushing and 179.7 yards per game. He set the single-game FBS rushing record with 408 yards against Nebraska, a record that only stood for a week.

For Wisconsin, this is the second time in three years it has had its coach leave to take a job that seems like no more than a lateral move.

After the 2012 regular season, Bret Bielema, who was Alvarez's hand-picked successor, bolted to Arkansas. Alvarez, who is now the athletic director, named himself the interim coach and coached the Badgers in the Rose Bowl.

Alvarez, who coached the Badgers for 16 years and helped turn a moribund program into a consistent Big Ten contender, said Andersen called him Wednesday and asked to meet.

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