Game 20: Iowa @ Wisconsin

I have not yet seen Iowa in person, but I have heard stories. Their fans travel extremely well and their players had a tendency to be cocky when playing the Badgers. Head coach Hayden Frye was the ringleader of this team, and his successful recruiting efforts in the state of Wisconsin certainly had much to do with the team’s puffed chests. However, this season has not been one to gloat about in Iowa City.  The Hawks were riding a four game losing streak coming into Camp Randall Stadium. However, they also hadn’t lost to the Badgers since 1976. Wisconsin came into the game with a record of 4-4-1 and winning was mandatory if they were to expect a bowl invitation. Iowa needed just one victory to secure post-season action.

Amid the tension of the game were two very familiar figures. Saturday Night Live’s Chris Farley (who is from Madison) was decked in red while his buddy, Tom Arnold was sporting his Iowa shirt. They were entertaining the crowd as they walked a lap around the field. Farley made a specific gesture toward the student section which riled them up. Even without the presence of Hollywood, the stadium was energetic and red as usual, but with a tinge of black and yellow.

Hayden Frye stalked the sidelines with a confident gait. The Hawkeyes took the field with a resounding boo from the crowd. Clearly, there was hostility toward Iowa, who have dominated this series in recent years. The Hawks came out flying and put a 26-7 halftime score over the Badgers. Dreams of a third straight bowl began to drain. I really had yet to see any attitude coming from the Iowa bench…that is, until they reemerged from the locker room in the second half. As the Iowa players took the field, a large portion of them ran over to the student section and shook their fannies at the crowd. This caused the students and a majority of the red and white to scream, hiss, and give any Iowa fan nearby a dirty look. A somber crowd had turned into an angry crowd.

I feel that the Badger players also felt the rage because a couple touchdowns later, Wisconsin had closed the gap to 26-20. Defeating Iowa today had become more than getting to a bowl. It had more to do with ending this dreaded losing streak. With the score chipped away to a 6-point lead, Wisconsin had the ball and was driving. At about midfield, QB Darell Bevell threw a costly interception. A few plays later, Iowa had another touchdown and a 33-20 victory. It would be the only game other than game four against Nevada that I would leave early. I had no choice. I didn’t know how to drive yet, and my ride was leaving. But, I heard the booing spill over the edge of the stadium as we walked further away. I learned about Iowa on this day, and I hoped that one day Wisconsin would make this a more competitive rivalry .

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