First game jitters were not a factor in the opener for the Badgers and Cougars. Both teams had every right to be anxious. Wisconsin held its highest preseason ranking in seven years and title talk has swept the state. Washington State had to play their opener over two thousand miles from home in a hostile environment. Yet, no nervousness could be detected as the Cougars silenced the 81,000+ partisans in Camp Randall Stadium with a solid opening march for a touchdown. Undaunted, the Badgers returned the favor on the next drive. The way these two teams fired out of the gate made them seem more like well oiled mid season machines.
Even though both teams traded touchdowns on their next drives, the 14-14 score caused few Badger fans to be concerned. The feeling that Wisconsin would win never left the stadium. Led by new starting senior, Tyler Donovan, Wisconsin took a 28-14 halftime lead and never looked back. The Badgers, known historically for their power running attack, unexpectedly excelled in the passing category led by new senior starter, Tyler Donovan. The Badgers finished the game by doubling up on the Cougars 42-21.
Reigning Big Ten coach of the year, Bret Bielema, began the campaign to view each game one at a time. Going 1-0 in each game became the motto for the year. Can this strategy lead Wisconsin to a Big Ten title, or even a national title? Winning the game certainly helped to validate Bielema’s plan, however, #5 Michigan’s loss to Division I-AA Appalachian State seemed to open that door even wider. When this shocking score appeared on the big screen, Wisconsin fans absolutely vaulted from their seats with celebratory screams. This season had just become brighter for the Badgers and their game with the Cougars was far from being finished.
Washington State drew a sizable number of fans from the Evergreen State. Their presence could be heard with each score as their fans chimed out the WSU fight song and Butch the Cougar prowled the sidelines. However, by the fourth quarter, Butch had his tail tucked between his legs. The score told the story. Although the Cougars played valiantly, it was not enough to tilt the scales in Madison.
A comfortable win for Wisconsin and an impressive showing from Washington State sums up the game, but mostly, it’s great to be back on campus enjoying the tailgating, bands, and raucous fans that college football stadiums across the country provide.