Michigan State and Wisconsin produced two of the year’s most memorable contests in 2011. Both games featured highly ranked teams and unforgettable finishes. The 2012 version would be exactly the same – minus the highly ranked part. Stumbles and struggles have pinned these teams to the middle of the pack in their respective Big Ten divisions. The Badgers, however, are still likely to reach the Big Ten title game as a result of Ohio State and Penn State’s ineligibility due to naughtiness. A cold and clear autumn afternoon in Madison served up all the usual action including a busy farmer’s market circling the capitol and a buzzed up State Street.
We began the day by enjoying a few beverages at the Rathskeller in the Memorial Union and then strolling up Bascom Hill to snap a picture with Abe Lincoln at the summit. Our visit to the Union South pep rally got us feeling like Wisconsin would extend its 21 game home streak, and as soon as they band put down their instruments, we eagerly shuffled over to Camp Randall. The stadium filled to its usual 80,000+ and witnessed a very low scoring contest. Halloween costumes dotted the crowd and we had the pleasant misfortune of sitting behind a couple of deceased presidents and an obnoxious yet tolerable and amusing horse. For the Badger offense, all masks would come off by the second half. It appeared that the Badger defense would have to carry the load as Badger QB Joel Stave broke his collarbone causing a struggling Danny O’Brien to take charge.
It looked like the Badgers would pull this one out of the fire, but the Spartans found their offense in waining moments of the game to tie up the contest and send it to overtime where they would win on a 3rd and 8 TD catch that deflated any energy left in Camp Randall. As soon as the catch was made, Badger fans sunk and immediately shuffled their way to the exits. It was a frustrating finish for the home team, but a monkey off the back for Michigan State as they notched their first win in Madison since 2001. As the sun dipped quickly in the sky and on the October portion of this season, both the Badger and Spartan fans were left wondering which direction this game would propel their respective teams.