Eleven years ago, I was fortunate enough to witness the Badgers upset Ohio State at Camp Randall Stadium. The weather in Madison that day was chamber of commerce quality. Ever since that momentous victory, Wisconsin has had four opportunities and failed each time to defeat the Buckeyes at home. Each one of those losses took place amidst dreary, cold, and uncomfortable weather. Is it possible that the conditions outside serve as a harbinger for the outcome of this game?
The thought crossed my mind on this gorgeous day in Madison in which Wisconsin would be facing the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes. This team from Columbus had amassed nineteen consecutive victories and appeared unbeatable. However, the weather may have been forecasting a less fortuitous fate for the Buckeyes. An eight p.m. kickoff meant a long day of waiting. The pleasant seventy-degree weather made the task very tolerable as our group relaxed on the popular terrace overlooking Lake Mendota in Madison. With both teams undefeated in conference play, everyone’s walk to the stadium emitted confidence as the sun went down and the stadium began to fill.
With everyone settling into their seats and kickoff drawing near, a drastic change began to occur in the skies above. Billowing over the upper deck arose dark clouds bringing with them fierce rain and slapping winds. The temperature dropped severely and the red in the stadium rapidly turned to dark multi-colors as the crowd slipped on their parkas and ponchos. The cloud mass crept over like a retractable roof and just sat there like a bachelor in his lazy-boy. This ideal day morphed into a drenching cascade that may have spelled doom for the Badgers according to the weather patterns in this matchup’s history.
Could Wisconsin defeat both Ohio State and Mother Nature? Without star tailback Anthony Davis, accomplishing the goal could prove to be exhausting. However, Booker Stanley again displayed tremendous leadership skills and ran courageously throughout the evening. He scored the first touchdown of the game, which was a lead the Badgers held until the fourth quarter. At 10-3, Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel led the Buckeyes on an impressive drive finishing with a pass to Michael Jenkins with just over six minutes remaining in the game.
Tied at ten, the scene looked awfully familiar. To make matters worse, Badger quarterback Jim Sorgi had to exit in the third quarter with an injury leaving inexperienced Matt Schabert to drive the forces. After the Buckeyes scored to tie, Wisconsin showed that no winning streak, nor national championship prowess, nor weather front was going to dissolve their motivation. Schabert dropped back and spotted an open Lee Evans steaming down the sideline. He heaved and connected with Evans who charged the distance through the winds and rain into the endzone. The crowd, which hadn’t seen a Badger score since the first quarter awoke with a sloppy wet explosion of exuberance. Wisconsin held Ohio State’s comeback attempt and the winning streak came to a halt in Madison.
When the clock struck zero, Badger fans stormed the field and attacked the goalposts in traditional celebration of a major upset. Now, Wisconsin was poised to challenge for the conference crowd clearly showing that they are able to weather any storm.