Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Big Ten Memories - Wisconsin

The last installment of the Summer series through the Big Ten ends up in Madison, Wisconsin. The border rival annual series is suspended with the advent of divisions within the Big Ten, and it will be a temporary end to a favorite series of mine.

Whether the game is played in the Badger State or the Hawkeye State, the atmosphere is one of the best for either side. And of late the outcome is much different than what it was from 1977 - 1996 when the Hawkeyes won 18 in a row. And on that November Saturday in 1997 I felt the years of frustration come to an end.

Barry Alvarez had the Badgers playing at a championship level, but the victory of his former boss and school, Hayden Fry was the one thing that eluded him. In 1991 the Badgers lead until under a minute to go when Iowa connected on fourth down from Matt Rodgers to Mike Saunders for a touchdown giving Iowa the 10-6 win. In 1992 it took a late Iowa touchdown with a two-point conversion and a blocked Wisconsin field goal, all in the last 90 seconds to secure the win for Iowa. The two teams took a hiatus for two years, a period that found the Badgers in the Rose Bowl, and when they came back onto the schedule, the Hawkeyes continued their winning ways.

In 1997 the Badgers smelled blood in Camp Randall. The Hawkeyes had only one road win and earlier in the year Iowa's starting quarterback, Matt Sherman, was lost for the season. It was a low scoring game and the Badgers were victorious, 13-10. It was a night to party in Madison. My end zone location was in the north end of the stadium, adjacent to the student section. It was a small booth, small enough that it didn't allow me to store my camera cases inside.

Once the game ended, and fifth quarter began, I started to tear down my equipment. The typical amount of people that stay to listen to the Wisconsin's band post-game concert was smaller as many were anxious to celebrate on Madison' State Street. But there were a few in my area, and they made sure I knew the outcome of the game. From about twenty feet away I hear a Badger fan shout, "Hey! Don't Let the Door Hit you in the A$$ when you leave the State!" What am I going to say to that? So I ignored him and continued to break down my equipment. The fan came closer and said, "Hey! I said, Don't Let the Door Hit You in the A$$ on the way out of the State!" Again, I ignored him.

By this time he was becoming frustrated. So he comes closer. "HEY! I said, Don't Let the Door Hit you in the A$$ on the way out of the State!" This time it was slower and more deliberate. But again, I ignore him. Now he's upset and gets within five feet of me. "I SAID, DON"T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU IN THE A$$ ON THE WAY OUT OF THE STATE!" I ignore it, he waves his hand at me and says, "Awww, forget about it!"

The bus ride home wasn't much fun as the citizens of Dickeyville, Wisconsin were waiting for us at the town center with signs directed at the nearby Hawkeyes. The small Wisconsin town is within seven miles of Dubuque, and I'm sure there was a bit of frustration built up over those twenty years. Of course the town also has a three way stop in the center where the townspeople were waiting with the signs and banners.

The series will start up again in 2013, but it will feel like a long two years until the Badgers and Hawkeyes face off.

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