Two undefeated teams from major conferences highlighted this confrontation in Madison. The game alone lent itself to heat up conversations. But, the controversy over a musket brought discussions to a boil. Yes, a musket. For sixty years, West Virginia and its mountaineer mascot has shot a traditional musket celebrating each touchdown. Like most places, laws in Wisconsin state that no firearm of any kind is allowed in stadiums or arenas. The Mountaineers got the green light on the issue when it was made clear that only gunpowder is used and blasts would be limited. The prop was not well received by Badger fans as West Virginia poured onto the field led by the Mountaineer who pulled the trigger to announce their arrival. The musket was startling and made a sound that can only be heard on the History Channel or war reenactments at Williamsburg. A cacophony of boos shattered the air and pointed down at the visiting team.
West Virginia had about as much ammunition in their offense as the hated musket. The Mountaineers could do nothing to match the suddenly clicking Badger offense. The struggles that Wisconsin faced two weeks earlier at the hands of Fresno State went up with the musket smoke at the onset of the engagement. The loss of star wideout Lee Evans began to sting less as Jonathan Orr picked up the slack with two brilliant touchdown receptions. If Wisconsin signaled each dent of the end zone with a gunshot, the first half would have sounded like the Revolutionary War. By halftime, the Badgers dropped 34 points on the scoreboard while the West Virginia could only manage three.
The Mountaineer mascot was getting as much work as a hot chocolate vendor in July. West Virginia did squeeze out a touchdown on their first drive of the second half. After the extra point, the shot of the musket caused Badger hearts to jump and Badger students to begin offering a few salacious words in unison. With Wisconsin’s dynamic first half, the team began to retreat and focus more on holding the lead rather than building it. The Mountaineers would score only once more and this time, the musket was silent. Perhaps it was the students displaying their dismay for the weapon or perhaps it was the lack luster performance offered by the Big East representative. Whatever the cause, for West Virginia today, all was quiet on the midwestern front.