Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


A season of emotions

In the weeks and months leading up to the beginning of this year’s college football season, I, like many other fans of the cardinal and white, couldn’t wait to see the Badgers take the field for the first time in 2003.

Prior to Wisconsin’s season opener against West Virginia, though, I was on my way to, of all things, a wedding. After experiencing more than a seven-month hiatus from watching Barry’s boys on the gridiron, my buddy Mike couldn’t have picked a worse time to tie the proverbial knot. The Badgers had a fervor surrounding them I hadn’t seen since I arrived on campus shortly after the turn of the century, and I was looking forward to their matchup with the Mountaineers more than a Madison meter maid looks forward to dishing out a parking ticket.

Nonetheless, in good conscience, I opted to witness my friend get married instead of watch the game.


Like pretty much any other wedding I’d attended prior to this, virtually every possible feeling was visibly revealed at some point during those 45 minutes of union: happiness, sadness, fulfillment, what-have-you.

Little did I know that the number of feelings experienced in that church would pale in comparison to the number of emotions Badger fans would feel throughout this year’s college football season.

Personally, watching UW play in 2003 was an emotional roller coaster I hadn’t been on since my tumultuous days as a hopeless (and helpless) romantic fifth grader — only with more pouting.

First, there were the highs.

The Badgers, with the exception of the UNLV meltdown, kicked off the season on the right foot. They began their 2003 campaign on a 5-1 tear despite Anthony Davis being hampered with a nagging ankle injury, and entered their matchup with Ohio State as the No. 22-ranked team in the country.

And it was against the Buckeyes that the aforementioned roller coaster would reach its pinnacle.

Riding a defensive performance for the ages, Jeff Mack and Wisconsin pulled out a 17-10 victory over the then-undefeated Bucks of OSU. Through the cold drizzle that persisted throughout the game and well into the post-game celebration, the Badger faithful demonstrated why they are some of the most hard-core, devoted fans in the nation; it could have been 30-below in Madison on that fateful night in October, and sections L-P of Camp Randall would’ve still been crazy.

But that devotion would be tested to the max over the course of the next four weeks — as a season once running full-throttle suddenly ran out of gas.

The Badgers would lose three-straight games following their upset of the Buckeyes, including an embarrassing 16-7 loss at the hands of Northwestern. And a team that once looked poised to make a run at the Big Ten championship had seemingly hit an impenetrable roadblock.

As we all know, however, that roadblock would soon be vaporized by UW senior wideout Lee Evans.

In Wisconsin’s game against Michigan State, which the UW won by a score of 56-21, the Bedford, Ohio native would carry the Badger offense to the tune of 10 catches for 258 yards and five touchdowns.

With the performance Evans broke or tied seven UW or Big Ten records, and solidified his legacy as one of the best players to ever don a Badger uniform.

Thanks to the rout, Evans and the Badgers had thrust themselves back into contention for a New Year’s bowl invite, and the team appeared to have its old swagger back.

Sadly, though, their dreams of a trip to Tampa would not become a reality.

In Wisconsin’s final game of the season, the Badgers would come up four yards shy of closing out the season with a win.

And the game itself basically characterized UW’s entire season.

They had success early, completely fell apart, and then made a late drive before coming up just short of triumph.

From the bliss Badger backers felt following the upset of Ohio State to the depths of despair they experienced after the train wreck in Evanston, this season has taken its toll on Wisconsin fans’ bank of emotions.

With a little over a month to rejuvenate, the Badger faithful will once again begin to get psyched up for a big game.

Only time will tell if they’ll be celebrating in Nashville or singing the blues.

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