So much change is developing around Camp Randall Stadium. The historic venue has been undergoing an expensive face-lift intended to expand capacity over 80,000 while adding more luxury press boxes. Can the new changes bring good fortune in the final regular season game? Invitations to New Year’s bowl games hung in the balance as the final conference week commenced. Iowa and Wisconsin only share around one hundred miles worth of border, but it’s enough to develop a sincere hatred for one another. Today’s game only intensifies the discord because the winner gets grabs at a prestigious bowl berth. With both teams coming off convincing victories, confidence saturated both sidelines almost as much as the chilly fog that enveloped Camp Randall Stadium.
The Hawkeyes stormed onto the scoreboard first. The large contingent of Iowa denizens exploded on the south side of the stadium making their presence known. Wisconsin didn’t take long to give their fans a chance to join in the frivolity. The Badgers answered Iowa’s opening number with three straight touchdowns. One of the scores was set up with a tremendous halfback pass to the quarterback, Jim Sorgi, who hurdled over a defensive back and carried the ball inside the five. For this relatively conservative Badger team, trick plays like that occur about as often as the Bush administration attends a commitment ceremony.
Holding a 21-7 lead, Wisconsin seemed in control. However, Iowa chipped away at the Badger advantage and settled the halftime score at 21-17. In addition, a head injury knocked Sorgi out of the game forcing Wisconsin to hang on without their leader.
By the second half, the darkness thickened the dense air and it was challenging to even see the other side of the playing field. Sorgi’s replacement, Matt Schabert, must have been suffering vision problems as well when he tossed an interception that Iowa returned to the one-yard line. On the next play, Hawkeye tailback Fred Russell scored the go ahead touchdown. After an additional field goal by Iowa and the ineffective play of Schabert, the Badgers called on their third string man, John Stocco, to lead Wisconsin in what they would hope to be a game winning drive with under two minutes remaining. Stocco led the Badgers in a thrilling drive that depended on a fourth and goal play inside the five with no time remaining on the clock. However, being rushed on the play caused him to force a pass that fell incomplete. The Hawkeyes and what seemed like half of the state of Iowa congregating in the stands lurched up in celebration.
Iowa would advance to the Outback Bowl where they impressively defeated the Florida Gators. Wisconsin was banished to the Music City Bowl, where they ended on another disappointing loss. Perhaps next year’s finished product of Camp Randall Stadium will inspire larger successes.