As the song goes, “If you want to be a Badger, just come along with me, by the bright shiny light, by the light of the moon.’ And come along you should.
Experiencing a Badger game under the lights at Camp Randall Stadium is definitely an experience to behold.
Luckily for fans, Wisconsin will play at least one night game on its home turf in 2017. However, Wisconsin could play more under the lights.
Under current television contracts with ESPN and FOX/FS1, primetime games can be scheduled as late as 12 days before game day.
Some may be wondering what is so great about a night game at Camp Randall. First and foremost, Wisconsin plays well under the lights.
Dating back to the 2000 football season, Wisconsin is 13–3 in games played at Camp Randall with a start time of 5 p.m. or later. More impressively, Wisconsin has won seven of its last eight games played under these conditions.
Wisconsin’s only losses in night games since 2000 have come against tough opponents. Wisconsin suffered back-to-back defeats under the lights in 2008, when it lost to No. 12 Ohio State 20–17 and then No. 6 Penn State 48–7. The two losses were also part of a four-game losing streak.
Wisconsin’s other loss came in 2016, when No. 2 Ohio State, defeated No. 8 Wisconsin, 30–23 in overtime.
On the flipside, Wisconsin has won some of its biggest home games under the lights, as it did in 2003, when the No. 17 Badgers defeated the No. 3 Buckeyes 17–10.
The Buckeyes had won the national championship the year before and were riding a 19-game win streak into Madison. Ohio State tied the game with about six minutes remaining after Wisconsin quarterback Jim Sorgi went down with an injury with the Badgers’ chances looking bleak.
However, back-up quarterback Matt Schabert connected with Lee Evans on a 79-yard touchdown reception, which proved to be the game-winner. Truly a performance that goes down in Wisconsin lore as one of the best in the program’s history.
Another memorable win, came against the same opponent.
The Buckeyes came to Madison on Oct. 16, 2010, as the top-ranked team in college football. Wisconsin was No. 18.
Rankings didn’t matter much, as the opening kickoff went into the hands of David Gilreath, who quickly took it 97 yards for a score.
John Clay chipped in 104 yards and two scores and James White added the clinching score in the fourth. JJ Watt spent just about as much time in the Buckeyes’ pocket as their quarterback Terrelle Pryor did, leading to a 31–18 UW win.
The win was Wisconsin’s first over a No. 1 team since 1981, when Wisconsin defeated Michigan, 21–14.
The Badgers are also 8–0 against unranked teams in night games at Camp Randall, which Utah State is heading into the first game of the 2017 season.
Apart from the recent success, games under the lights at Camp Randall are special for other reasons. First, they don't happen all that often. If Wisconsin can remain a top-10 team throughout the season, it's very possible that Badger fans could see a few more primetime contests.
Secondly, the fans are a bit more spirited. Normally, fans have to rush to get in their pre-game festivities with an 11 a.m. start. However, with a later kick, fans have more time to tailgate. Students are also more apt to show up for a late kick.
Finally, there is just something about games under the lights. You just have to experience it.