The Kickoff Classic had become a highlight for college football as it “kicked off” the start of a new season. Played in Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the event has seen many great players, teams, and games. This year’s battle was featured as the duel between Syracuse’s Donovan McNabb and Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne. It had all the elements of being a classic clash.
We drove fourteen hours to New York City and spent a day viewing the sights. On gameday, we tailgated outside Giants Stadium and even chatted with a few former Badger players who were on hand to support their alma mater. Both the Orangemen and the Badgers brought a wealth of fans. One group of Wisconsin fans was blasting the band’s rendition of “Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight.” They yelled over to a gaggle of Syracuse fans, “This is what the band plays after our team scores!” as if to say that Orangemen fans will be hearing it often.
It would be Badger fans, however, hearing “Down the Field” over and over from the Syracuse band. That was evident immediately as Syracuse returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Donovan McNabb was unstoppable. Dayne proved that he was stoppable. The Badgers could not get anything going. Their only real attempt for points was a chip shot field goal that fell off target. Fourteen hours of driving to witness a 34-0 shutout. Yet, it was exciting to see Donovan McNabb, especially now knowing his NFL status. Elusive, quick, and accurate are adjectives that come to mind when remembering his performance.
As for the Badgers, uncertainty arose again with this inauspicious beginning. How would they respond to this defeat? I was particularly interested because the next game would be my first home game as a student of UW-Madison…