Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


How quickly things can change

In the wake of Wisconsin’s 31-10 trouncing of Arizona Sept. 21, the atmosphere on the Madison campus was electric.

For the first time in a few years, it started to get exciting heading into the conference schedule.

The Badgers had finally put together a complete game of football and came away with a legitimate victory against their most formidable opponent of the season to date. UW was a perfect 5-0 on the year and had climbed to No. 15 in the national rankings.


The Badgers had a bye week to rest and heal before hosting a Penn State team that had finally showed a glimpse of weakness by losing to Iowa at home. They had survived their extra non-conference game without losing anyone to major injury, and all aspects of the Badger attack appeared to be falling into place.

The much-anticipated return of All-American wide-out Lee Evans was supposedly on the horizon, and Wisconsin was finally set to display the offensive juggernaut that had been so highly touted heading into the 2002 season.

The planets were aligned, and the Badgers appeared to have rebounded from last year’s debacle of a season.

Those faithful to the cardinal and white were ecstatic, and Oct. 19 was becoming more important and anticipated than Halloween, Christmas and the day when the Chicago Bears finally realize that they aren’t that good.

It was going to be a match-up of two undefeated, top-15 ranked teams in a battle that had conference championship and major bowl implications written all over it. This would have been the day Wisconsin hosted nationally renowned team and conference rival Ohio State in what was originally slotted as the biggest game of the season for both teams.

The winner was going to have the edge in the conference race while the loser agonized in the swallows of bitter defeat.

Lee Corso and the rest of the College Game Day staff were supposed to be broadcasting live from Camp Randall, and the majority of college football fans around the country were going to be glued to ABC’s coverage of one of the nation’s most pivotal games.

Then it happened. The excruciating, unbelievably disappointing turn of events. The Badgers pulled a 180.

It started with a 51-yard field goal by Penn State’s Robbie Gould. It then gained momentum with a pair of crucial dropped passes that all but buried Wisconsin’s effort to upend coaching legend Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions.

The unraveling followed the Badgers to Bloomington, Ind., where they blew a 19-point second-half lead to the heroics of no-name quarterback Gibran Hamden and the Indiana Hoosiers — the eternal janitors of the Big Ten conference. This loss was nothing short of a catastrophic blow to their conference championship campaign.

Ohio State did its part leading up to Saturday’s game, although its task was probably a little less arduous than the one UW had to endure. Ohio State went to Northwestern two weeks ago coming away with a victory and walked over non-conference foe San Jose State without breaking a sweat last week.

Despite the fork in the 2002 season that has begun to separate the once similar opponents, there will still be a game tomorrow. And it’s going to be as every bit important as it was three weeks ago. It’s just going to have different implications for both teams.

Wisconsin essentially needs a victory to save its season. A loss wouldn’t leave Wisconsin waving the white flag this early in the year, but bouncing back from an 0-3 start with their remaining road games isn’t likely. A loss would also retire any notion the Badgers had at capturing a conference title.

Ohio State, on the other hand is now setting its sights on the possibility of a trip to Tempe, Arizona and the Fiesta Bowl — this year’s national championship game. With a 2-0 start they are also in the driver’s seat for the Big Ten championship.

They have inherited the most dominant player in college football and a visit to Camp Randall might be the only serious obstacle the Buckeyes will have to hurdle leading up to a final week showdown at Michigan.

Nothing would be sweeter for the struggling Badgers than to find their game against one of their most hated rivals, spoiling their perfect season and rejuvenating their own. Crazier things have happened in the turbulent sport of college football, and Wisconsin should nearly always be considered a favorite when playing on the artificial turf of Camp Randall.

A win over Ohio State would all but set the Badgers back on the course they were heading down when they concluded their non-conference schedule with a win over Arizona. Two losses between then and now have seemingly dampened the importance of tomorrow’s game.

Everyone believes that is kidding themselves. For Ohio State it may mean a BCS invitation. For Wisconsin, it means everything.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *