Hello everyone. For today's B5Q Alone Together topic, we will be discussing our favorite Badger football memories. The one rule here is that you are not able to use games that are universally considered favorites. For instance, if the game appears in the 'Where the Streets Have No Name' intro video, you cannot include it. I also deliberately wrote 'memories' and not 'games' because sometimes we can have salient memories around games that are not considered important on their own merit to others. So let's dig a little deeper to discuss Badger games that made an impact on us as fans! My list includes:
1994 Hall of Fame Bowl, Wisconsin 34 Duke 20
Technically this game was in 1995, but was part of the 1994 season. This game was played on a Monday morning, and my third grade teacher, Mrs. Cragg, wheeled a TV into our classroom to watch the game. The whole game. As an adult with a job, I've thought often about the fact that Mrs. Cragg took up three hours of the school day to watch football at work; made even more remarkable by the fact that our school had maybe a half dozen TV's, meaning that she had to reserve that TV. To watch football. At work. She is a hero to me in this regard. This is also the first Badger football game that I can remember watching from beginning to end. I cannot remember much of what I had learned in third grade, but I'll always remember that Hall of Fame Bowl and Mrs. Cragg's determination to watch a mid-tier bowl game at work in the pre-internet era. Here's to you, Mrs. C. Wherever you are.
1997 Wisconsin 26 Northwestern 25
My birthday is in October, and when I was a kid, there were several years when my birthday party consisted of a tailgate party and watching a Packer game with my friends. My dad would move the TV into the garage and set up seating. He would grill burgers in the driveway and my friends and I would play football in the yard during halftime. It was amazing. The night before my party, my dad had moved everything out to the garage, and we watched the UW-NU game together. I don't know why, but I thought watching TV in the garage was so awesome. I still kind of do. Maybe I should move a TV out to my garage. Anyway, Matt Davenport kicked a 48 yard FG to win the game, and I ran laps around my house in the dark to celebrate.
2007 Wisconsin defeats Iowa and Michigan State in back-to-back weeks
I lumped these two games together because I remember them as one long week. Wisconsin won back-to-back nationally televised games against conference opponents. What was most notable for me was that the Goodyear blimp stayed in Madison all week in between games. As I would walk to class that week, I could look up and sometimes see the blimp flying over campus. UW was 'blimpworthy' that week, and it reminds me of a simpler time when I lived with my best friends and spent all week waiting for Saturday. After beating MSU, the Badgers would be ranked #5 in the nation, and a national championship seemed possible. The Badgers would lose to Illinois the next week in one of my least favorite Badger games of all time, but for a few weeks in September, everything seemed possible.
2008 Wisconsin 35 Minnesota 32
This was my last game in the student section at Camp Randall, my 'senior day' of sorts. Technically the following week's game against Cal Poly was my last, but since my roommates didn't go to that game, the Minnesota game was the last ride for our group. The Badgers were down 21-7 at halftime, but came back in the second half, which included two safeties. It even kind of snowed during the game. It was also the end of an era for me.
2010 Wisconsin 31 Iowa 30
This game is probably dangerously close to breaking the rules, but I'm going to include it anyway. A week after beating #1 Ohio State in my favorite Badger football game of all time, Wisconsin had to travel to Iowa City to play the Hawkeyes. For Wisconsin to win in a big upset was not unusual, but sustaining that success was. The unwritten rules of Badger football would have required that UW lose the next week to Iowa, but the Badgers beat the Hawkeyes in an all-timer, catapulting them to their first Big Ten title and Rose Bowl in over a decade. I was living in Green Bay at the time, and some of my UW friends had come up to watch the game for our first mass get-together since we had graduated. Afterwards we went out in Appleton to celebrate, which has an underrated bar scene downtown. This was at a time when I was struggling to transition from a college kid to an adult; trying to figure out how to behave like a grown-up. I was underemployed in a job I hated, and didn't really know who I was now that I was no longer a UW student. Having a night to suit up with my old friends and celebrate a Badger victory like we were still 20 was special to me in that moment. Still is. The Ohio State game was a big game, but the win over Iowa was the program-changer in my mind.
What are some of your favorite underrated Badgers games? Let's discuss!