I have always loved a good upset. It’s part of the unpredictable excitement of college football. It’s a little harder when it’s your team on the losing end of that upset. But, if there is one thing that I have learned on my travels around the country, it is a growing appreciation for the successes of other teams. BYU earned the right to celebrate today.
A humid day for a mid afternoon kick off started with a stroll down State Street and up Bascom Hill. We even met Senator Tammy Baldwin greeting fans at the Camp Randall Arch.
Once again, our pregame ritual landed us at Union South to see the pregame band concert. This season, Wisconsin is making a special effort to celebrate the legacy of Michael Leckrone. The legendary band director is retiring after 50 years of creating the sounds that make Badger gamedays so special. I never tire of hearing “On Wisconsin” led by this venerable icon.
A packed Camp Randall Stadium watched an inspired Cougar team that was ready to catch Wisconsin playing far too conservatively on both sides of the ball. While the Badgers kept a close eye on the scoreboard, a late field goal that would’ve put the game into overtime sailed left and sent the Wisconsin faithful sulking towards the exits. Conversely, patches of BYU blue exploded in the corners of this historic arena that few visitors leave triumphant.
Wisconsin suffered a huge blow to their playoff chances, while BYU’s season catapulted skyward. As we sat with a beer on Lake Mendota after the game, a bevy of BYU fans walked past us grinning from ear to ear. I hollered to them as I raised my bottle, “Congratulations! Be sure to drink Wisconsibly to celebrate!”
In kind jest, they responded: “We’ll stick to water.” I had forgotten that alcohol is not a BYU fan’s go-to victory tool.
A huge win for BYU could be the start of a special season for them. A loss for Wisconsin is not the end, but closes the margin for error. It will be interesting to see how both teams respond.