This would be my first time watching a would-be Heisman Trophy winner in action. Ohio State running back, Eddie George, led fourth ranked Ohio State into Camp Randall Stadium. Based on the first three games of this season, Wisconsin would seem like a chew toy for the Buckeyes. But, last week’s win at #7 Penn State jumped the Badgers into the top 25 suddenly making Wisconsin vs. Ohio State the game of the week.
The weather was gritty and traditional Big Ten – bitter cold. Red t-shirts have turned to red parkas and of course, most of the male students were shirtless powering through the goose bumps for their team. Every Big Ten game is special, but a reinvigorated Madison made for an even greater magical atmosphere. Carl McCullough, back up running back for the past two bowl seasons, was now the leader of the offense and he put on a bulldozing show.
Wisconsin was leading 16-13 middle of the second half with his go ahead touchdown. But, this would be the breakout game for Eddie George. I believe it was the game that raised him to the top of the Heisman voting. I remember the fourth quarter overwhelming Wisconsin as Ohio State simply wore them down. After going up 20-16, the Badgers could no longer score. Ohio State began to grab first downs left and right. With time slipping, Ohio State set up at the fifty-yard line. From where I was sitting, the Buckeyes were facing my direction. Eddie George got the ball in the backfield and Wisconsin’s defense suddenly separated. George motored through and right in my direction. I remember how much he looked like an oncoming train pulling into the endzone and hushing the crowd. ABC analyst, Brent Musburger, announced, “Eddie George may be puttin’ this baby away.” He did. That was the final score: 27-16.
As much as I wanted the Badgers to win, I left with much less disgust than the 14-14 tie two years earlier. I was pleased with Wisconsin’s effort and at the end of the season, I realized how special that game was when Eddie George was handed the Heisman.