November 28, 2010

Going bowling

It's still not *technically* official, but with the release of this week's BCS standings Wisconsin is headed to the Rose Bowl for the first time in ten years (most likely to play TCU). Their last visit was just before I arrived in Madison, in Ron Dayne's Heisman season. I thought I would just share some random highlights of each year of my decade as a Badgers fan.

  • 8/25/2001 Wisconsin 26, Virginia 17
    This was my first game, and by some coincidence it was against one of the schools that I could have chosen to go to. My dad and I were up that weekend and I might not have even moved in to my dorm room yet. I had student season tickets and he scalped one from somewhere. Little did I know at the time how easy it would have been to buy a student ticket for him too but these were the days before craigslist I guess. The start to this game was delayed for quite some time due to a big thunderstorm rolling through just before game time. Later I would also learn that I didn't need to get there so damn early.

  • 11/23/2002 Wisconsin 49, Minnesota 41
    I don't have a lot of specific memories of this season, but the big story was Jim Leonhard's record-setting number of interceptions. He's done quite well for himself in the NFL for a former undersized walkon. He's now the captain of the Jets defense, and I still have a worn-out old #18 jersey that my wife bought me a year later. This year also marked the end of the Brooks Bollinger era, also known as "Bollinger on the keeper......tackled for a gain of one yard". Every. Freaking. Play.

  • 10/11/2003 Wisconsin 17, Ohio State 10
    Still easily the greatest game I've attended in person. OSU was ranked number one and College Gameday came to town. The Badgers hung in there and had a lead going into the 4th quarter before Ohio State tied it up. At some point in the half one of the OSU defenders choked Wisconsin QB Jim Sorgi which caused him to have difficulty breathing for the rest of the half. Backup QB Matt Schaub responded to the OSU score with a 79 yard bomb to Leeeeee Evans that turned out to be the game winner. It turned a generally shitty night (slow game, lousy weather) into bedlam, and the fans rushed the field.

  • 11/15/2003 Wisconsin 56, MSU 21
    My then-future-in-laws came to town for the first time to come to this game. They were freezing and bundled up as if on an arctic expedition, while we were merely wearing a sweatshirt or two. Things are so much more active in the student section that it was easy to stay warm. This was the Lee Evans 5 TD game, and looking up the recap of this game, Sorgi shattered the all-time UW QB rating record by posting a ridiculous 268.38 rating. The in-laws left after the 4th TD or so to go get warm.

  • 12/31/2003 Wisconsin 14, Auburn 28 (Music City Bowl)
    This was our first trip to a bowl game. My wife's best friend went to Auburn for a year, and since it was within driving distance of VA we decided to score some tickets and drive down to Nashville for New Year's. Wisconsin lost to future Redskins QB Jason Campbell, and we ended up sitting on the Auburn side of the field due to some confusion about/literal reading of our tickets. The Auburn fans around us were *quite* annoying. Our Auburn friend had been talking up SEC football and what a Big Deal it was, but she was blown away by the energy of the Wisconsin crowd at the day before the game parade and at the game itself. Also - note to Southern schools. Dressing up for football games does not make it a Big Deal. It just makes you look like assholes. Just saying. The other big highlights of the night were eating an incredible Shephard's Pie at some downtown restaurant and watching the Central Time New Year's on Conan.

  • 10/16/2004 Wisconsin 20 at Purdue 17
    We didn't have cable this year so we had to focus on broadcast TV for the Badger games. This was pre-BTN so if one of the national carriers didn't pick up the game, the local CBS channel paid for the rights for the ESPN Plus coverage. This game however, was on ESPN2. We headed down to the Campus Nitty Gritty bar and were lucky enough to stake out a table where we could see the TV. Purdue was riding high that year on the strength of Heisman frontrunner Kyle Orton. Purdue held the lead late in the 4th quarter before Badgers CB James Starks laid a hit on Orton, flipping him completely over and forcing a fumble that he ran in for the game-winning TD. Purdue and Orton went on to disappoint the rest of the season.

  • 11/18/2006 Wisconsin 35, Buffalo 3
    We were living in the shadow of Camp Randall stadium at this point and had long ago given up our tickets. Some friends of ours managed to get some tickets from work however and we had our first experience of watching a Badger game away from the student section. It was a cold day made even colder by being in the shadow of the field house and not standing for most of the game. Despite the fact that we were out of the student section they were still not great seats - they were just in the opposite end zone. But it was still Wisconsin football (and a shellacking at that). That team went 11-1 and defeated Darren McFadden's juggernaught of an Arkansas team in the Capitol One bowl.

As you can see the memories tailed off a bit after we let our season tickets lapse. But it's been a great ride.