Camp Randall Stadium was the site of Nebraska’s big welcome into the Big Ten Conference. By mid third quarter, it wasn’t much of a welcome anymore. These two big red machines locked gears for the day’s premier prime time matchup, and the first collision between two top ten teams in Madison since 1962. College Gameday got things started on Wisconsin’s historic Bascom Hill. Thousands of fans swarmed on every inch of grass space that could be found to catch a glimpse of Fowler, Corso, Herbsreit, and crew. Signs blanketed the crowd reading quotes like “Welcome to the Big Ten” along with clever phrases utilizing “shuck.” Use your imagination here.
Following the show, the terrace on Lake Mendota was the place to be as a beautiful day allowed for fans to sit by the lake and enjoy a drink or two. The walk over to Camp Randall showcased a lot of banter between Badger fans and their new conference foes. Nebraska fans are known to travel well and they made themselves heard early on. With both teams being red, they made themselves seen as well by outfitting themselves in black. Perfect color for a defense long known as the Blackshirts. But, this night would not live up to the color. The buzz in Madison could be felt to the borders and Camp Randall, already known for its high level of electricity, hit a voltage not felt since Heisman winner Ron Dayne broke the rushing record against Iowa back in 1999.
The importance of this game manifested itself in so many ways: the stadium felt a little redder, the fans appeared a little crazier, and the jump around was a little jumpier. Flash bulbs exploded around the stadium at the opening kick – documenting this first moment of Husker football in the Big Ten. It almost had a Rose Bowl-like feel to it. Patches of black marked the stadium helping Husker fans stand out. Nebraska’s band and Herbie Husker introduced new sounds and traditions to the conference as “There’s No Place Like Nebraska” officially became a Big Ten fight song. Nebraska would score first causing all the black splotches in the stadium to erupt. Highly celebrated QB Taylor Martinez dove in on a short option play that put the first dent into the scoreboard. Back and forth TDs by Wisconsin’s Montee Ball and Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead made this game look like it was going to be a barn burner. Martinez, however, began to toss a few throws to the other team and that’s when QB phenom Russell Wilson and RB Montee Ball took over. Three consecutive Martinez interceptions were converted into three consecutive Wisconsin TDs. It would lead to a blowout victory for the Badgers: 48-17.
One of the things I appreciate about Wisconsin is that despite a huge lead, fans stay and party til beyond when the clock hits all zeros. The jump around tradition kicks off the fourth quarter, and with all the excitement for tonight’s game, this rendition of the tradition practically registered on the Richter scale. They loudly cheer themselves on as the fast and slow motion makes its way through 83,000 fans. Everyone in the stands joined and sang in unison “Buttercup,” “What is Love?,” “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and “Sweet Caroline.” Like a massive rock concert, the singing reverberated throughout Camp Randall and the celebration had officially started early. With such a big lead, the game was sort of like a respite from the party in the stands. While there is respect for Nebraska and pride that they joined the Big Ten, I couldn’t find one Big Ten fan outside of Nebraska that was rooting for the Huskers. No one wanted Nebraska to come in and take charge. The Badgers helped to make this hope a reality. In fact, Wisconsin fans chanted “Big Ten Football!” repeatedly during the 4th quarter as though they were playing a non conference game. Again, it means no disrespect because everyone knows that it wont take long before Nebraska is stamping their “N” all over the Big Ten history books.