Every new season ushers in a new batch of questions. After last season’s Rose Bowl championship team, Wisconsin fans had plenty to wonder. Would the Badgers repeat as Big Ten champions? Can Ron Dayne get the 1,717 yards needed to surpass Ricky Williams and become the nation’s leading rusher? Will Dayne win the Heisman trophy? Who the hell is Murray State and where are they from?
Well, the last question is the only one that would get answered on this steamy Saturday afternoon and that’s only if fans read the student newspapers. All week, the blossoming young journalists were writing articles showing Badger fans where Murray is located. Kentucky is the answer and no one really knows because they are not of Division I-A status.
One question that never crossed anyone’s mind is, “Can we beat these guys?” At halftime, Wisconsin led 42-7 highlighted by a punt return touchdown by quick Nick Davis. The Racers did manage to hold Ron Dayne to 135 yards. Then again, Dayne sat out the entire second half.
This game also was the birth of the Dayne-o-meter. Outside the stadium was a large billboard marking off the yards that Ron Dayne needed to gain in order to break the record. After today, the billboard read 1,582 and despite a 49-10 whipping of Murray State, Badger fans grew anxious as they busted out their calculators to determine what Dayne needed per game to achieve the goal. Many fans were disappointed in coach Alvarez (who came out in crutches and spent the second half in the pressbox due to an ailing knee) for not keeping his leading rusher in the game to rack up easy yards against a lesser opponent. Next week, Ball State would come into town. Would Dayne get more yards against this weak team? Would the Badgers continue their dominance? Would Alvarez’s knee inhibit his performance as coach? The questions continued…