Wisconsin had some deep wounds in their playing style. An inept offense was being covered by a band-aid of special teams, defense, and a heavy reliance on their Heisman trophy candidate, Ron Dayne. For Wisconsin’s last two opponents, the band-aid was strong enough to hold. However, the Cincinnati Bearcats not only located the protective covering, they clawed it off and dug deeper into the wound.
The Badgers would never have seen it coming. They scheduled three lousy squads to open their season with the intent of being undefeated entering the Big Ten opener with Michigan. Perhaps they were looking ahead to the marquis matchup with the powerful Wolverines.
However, it was the dullness of the offense that caught up with the Badgers. Their offense had as much variety as a job on an assembly line. Dayne left, Dayne right, Dayne up the middle…fake a pass…hand to Dayne. In addition to the tunnel-vision style of play, Wisconsin scratched its own wounds as well. Many turnovers, penalties, and called back touchdowns infected the entire performance. The most damaging came with seconds left and Wisconsin trailing by five. A winning touchdown was called back, followed by an incomplete pass, and zeros on the game clock.
Bearcat fans stormed the field like they had won a national title. The goalposts soon were demolished and Bucky quietly sulked out of the stadium. Badger players moved slower than a parade as they headed for the locker room. Wisconsin fans making the trip had two choices: remain shocked in their seats or pretend to be happy for Cincinnati and join the celebration on the field. I chose the latter and managed to experience this landmark victory for the Bearcat program first hand. I caught up with coach Rick Minter and snapped a few photos. He had a goofy grin on his face like he had just been burped.
A lot of pressure was released for him as he just added a gleaming highlight for his resume. Cincinnati fans finally had something to celebrate on the gridiron – even former basketball player Oscar Robertson was on hand and he signed our program. As great as this was for the Bearcats, could it possibly get worse for the Badgers? Losing to a team that lost to a division I-AA program the week before really raises questions. With the over usage of Dayne, he was able to rack up 231 yards and become the Big Ten’s all-time leading rusher. Now, the magic number for the national rushing record was 1,193. But, can he do it alone? Can anyone step up and eliminate the monotony of this offense? Wisconsin had only one week to answer these questions, as they would be back on the national stage with wounds exposed and the easy portion of their schedule behind them.