Wisconsin’s glory season was underway as they entered this contest 4-0 and nationally ranked for the first season in years. A crazy Camp Randall made things difficult for the Wildcats and they lost 53-14. Quarterback Darrell Bevell completed his first 14 passes, and Wisconsin accumulated more points than they had in a single game in ten years – all this in front of a sellout crowd of over 77,000, a number that included a few bowl scouts.
The season opener for the Badgers was expected to be a struggle – Nevada showcased a potent offensive attack. But, Wisconsin handed the Wolfpack a 35-17 defeat spearheaded by an impressive defensive effort featuring four interceptions, and an offensive frenzy led by quarterback Darrell Bevell’s school-record five touchdown passes. Things were different this year as both sides of the ball started to show a bit more leg. Although fans knew the Badgers were improving, it was the first win of a magical season that no Wisconsinite could possibly envision.
Just because I had witnessed a great game two weeks ago did not mean that college football was a significant part of my life yet. It took time. I remember this gloomy day in Madison as one where I learned a very important rule in college football – no overtime. With the game tied at 16 and Wisconsin’s field goal kicker setting up for the winning kick, I asked my father, “What happens if he misses?” When he replied that the game simply results in a tie, I was filled with frustration from three sources –
Today would be a memorable day in the career of Wisconsin head coach, Barry Alvarez. I didn’t care. I don’t even think I knew why this Berry Alcatraz was so special. Once again, I was being handcuffed to the car and dragged to another football game. Not interested. I remember the last game I attended. Dreary. Boring. Low attendance. But, there was something different about today. Camp Randall Stadium was PACKED with a vibrant red that stretched to every curve and corner.
I didn’t even realize that this was my first college football game until I was digging through old photos and came across a dated image of my mother, brother, and me soaking up the action and the rain in Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. These were the pre-Barry Alvarez days in “The Camp” where the few points on the board matched the few people in attendance.