Call it a come from behind victory without the dramatics of the 1997 season. UNLV came in to Camp Randall Stadium wearing a Boise State outfit, but you can’t copy an original. Everyone (except the newly hazed freshmen) thought of last year’s dreadful game with Boise State when on Wisconsin’s opening drive, QB Mike Samuel had his pass intercepted at the line of scrimmage and returned half of the field for a touchdown. Against Boise State, the opening play was a fumble return TD for the Broncos and it took three quarters for the Badgers to recover.
After the near miss to lowly Boise State two weeks ago, Wisconsin finally aligned their wheels to the track with a blowout of San Jose State out in the Bay Area. This week, the Badgers welcomed another team from California. San Diego State was no slouch, but Badger fans were in need of a comfortable win to gain some confidence in their team.
Boise State and I had one big thing in common when entering this game. We both were experiencing our first game at a higher level. For me, this was my first game as a student at UW-Madison. For Boise State, this was their first game playing a Division I-A team as a member of the same division. I suppose you could say that we were both freshmen. My brother, who got all of us tickets in the senior section, made that fact abundantly clear by chanting, “FRESHMAN!”, while pointing at me. My face turned a Badger red.
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.