Last season, the Badgers ended a double decade losing streak to the Hawkeyes. The game was in Madison and Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez defeated his first boss, Hayden Frye. This year, the battle between these border states would be in Iowa City, where the streak still had a pulse knowing that UW has not won there since “Bennie and the Jets” was a #1 single.
This was my first trip to Kinnick Stadium. It was also the game where I began to religiously bring a camera. I had no idea that I would be snapping some amazing photographs today. While walking up to the stadium, we were heckled by some Iowa fans chanting, “Overrated!” The Badgers were in the top ten and managed to get there in the ugliest of fashions. So, it made sense that fellow fans in the Big Ten would view Wisconsin this way. Thankfully, a swarm of red in front of us retorted, “You’re not rated!” in return. Iowa had hit a bad streak and the Badgers were ready to kick them while they were down.
I entered the stadium early to find our seats and watch the teams warm-up. Never have I been to a stadium where fans can get this close to the action. We were six rows up from field level (and when I say field level, I mean that the first row of fans are resting their feet on grass!). With this vantage point, I grew picture happy. As the stadium filled in, a large representation of red was evident. The Iowa faithful looked confident with only history on their side, but the Badgers were a far stronger football team on this day. At half, Wisconsin led 10-0.
Fans were allowed the freedom to walk around the perimeter of the field, although few did. I grabbed the opportunity especially when I found that legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson, who was calling the game for ABC that afternoon, was being honored on the field for his three decades of broadcasting on the network. I met Keith Jackson last year, but knowing that he was retiring this year, I stood at the fifty-yard line to get a closer look. Stunned that I was able to get so close, I snapped many photographs of Keith and the Iowa band that performed at halftime.
All my wandering came at a price as I headed for the safety of the Wisconsin section. My journey back involved walking past the Iowa student section. They were a rowdy bunch and I stirred the pot by raising my red cowboy hat in the air and flailing it about in front of them. Consequently, I was given a shower consisting of soda, ice, and cups. I scurried back to my seat and enjoyed a second half dominated by the Badgers. The final score was 31-0, which ironically was the same score Wisconsin lost by on their last visit to Iowa City.
The black and gold drained out of the stadium, while the red poured onto the field. The Badger fans actually stormed Iowa’s field – I had never seen anything quite like that. Of course, I was amongst the mayhem and who do I bump into? – Barry Alvarez. I managed to click an award winning quality photograph as he left the field. Despite the lopsided score, this was one of the most memorable games that I attended. Although Iowa fans are certainly devoted and animated, I felt somewhat bad that they had little to celebrate. Perhaps my next trip to Kinnick Stadium will be different, but overall, I couldn’t have scripted a better outcome for the Wisconsin as they ended a losing streak at Iowa and improved to 8-0 for the first time since 1901…