As college football goes, you're supposed to have one team that you have good old fashioned hate for. One team that you want to flip a table over in rage if you lose to them. By now, you've kind of figured out I'm a bit of an oddity as a fan. I don't get up for your Iowas or Minnesotas like most of you.
But there is one team I do have hate in my heart for. There was one game where I found I loved the malevolent streak of our old coach more than any other. It was the last regular-season game of 2010. The Badgers just opened the floodgates in the second quarter and put up 35 points. Scott Tolzien threw for four touchdowns in that quarter. And Northwestern got a 70 spot put on them.
I hate Northwestern football. I hate it with a passion. Now maybe it stems from the fact that purple and football together have a tendency to send me into paroxysms of emotion. Now maybe it stems from the fact that every time the Badgers seemed to have something cooking in the previous decade, Northwestern came along and smacked them upside the head. Maybe it's because they didn't like my essay about how I plan to change the world through CAPS LOCK on social media.
(Probably not that last one).
Take 2000. The Badgers had hope. Oh boy, did they ever have it. They were a preseason top-five team, and they were about to go through the scandal that was about to destroy the fabric of America. I mean, discounted shoes! Next you're telling me they'll get free tattoos!
All they had to do was get past a Northwestern team that got eaten up by TCU, 41-14, the week before. I mean, they did have LaDainian Tomlinson, but still. That's nuts.
Spoiler alert? Despite Michael Bennett managing to get two great games worth of carries (48-293-2) and a touchdown from Dague Retzlaff, they lost in double-overtime, 47-44. That was before the Badgers got to the teeth of the schedule. They would lose to Michigan and Ohio State, as well as a Drew Brees-led Purdue. They managed to right themselves and win the bowl game. But Northwestern clinched the disappointment.
2003! The Badgers came up and beat Ohio State! Schabert to Evans, y'all! Then Jim Sorgi got hurt again against Purdue, and they lost to Purdue again. (Remember Kyle Orton, great college quarterback? This may have been the biggest sin of the Bush era). But they had Anthony Davis. And they beat Ohio State!
Northwestern? They already lost to Air Force and Miami of Ohio, as well as Ohio State and Minnesota. The Badgers were supposed to have this one, right? Welp. Anthony Davis got hurt. The Badgers ended up with Matt Schabert coming with the most rushing yards. It was ugly. It was 16-7. And the Badgers only won one more game that season. (Shout out to Lee Evans and Dwyane Smith.)
Northwestern would end the year 0-2 against the MAC after a 28-24 loss to Bowling Green.
2005! Barry Alvarez was going to go out on top! So help us he was going out on top! John Stocco beat Michigan! But then, then came Northwestern. Northwestern just buzzed the Badgers' defense and the Badgers had to find their way back into a close game. John Stocco and Johnathan Orr had three fourth-quarter touchdowns, but Northwestern got to 51. The Badgers got to 48.
Was this the disaster that 2000 and 2003 were? Nah. Any issue the Badgers had that year stem from the Badgers losing to Iowa. Penn State was a great team, and losing a road game to a decent Big Ten team? It wasn't bad, but another stupid October game happened and the Badgers lost to Northwestern.
2009! In a twist, it's November! They're in Evanston again. Northwestern was shaky in the first half of the year, they lost to a couple of 6-7 teams and a 4-8 Syracuse. But they seemed to right the ship in the second half. They ended the Iowa run for the national championship. And they got to the Badgers. Another one of those closer-than-they appear games. Figure you remember how each of their seasons ended.
Okay. So why go through this? Because the last time Pat Fitzgerald led a team against the Badgers, he got 70 put on his candy ass. He's going to want the receipt. Maybe he won't get it this week. But he has that Northwestern education and that jock bro mentality. As such? They're going to be coming for the Badgers.
And bespectacled well-spoken nerds will be coming with them.