A Day at Camp Randall

I’ve had the pleasure of checking out a few of the real sports shrines in the US. I’ve been to Fenway numerous times, sung “Sweet Caroline” and “Dirty Water” and “Tessie” with thousands of Red Sox fans. I’ve been to Lambeau Park when Brett Favre was still there and sat on the cold concrete bleachers. I’ve even seen the Harvard-Yale football game. And today I can add Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, WI, to my list of awesome places to see sporting events.

The building was packed with 80,000+ Badgers fans, all wearing red, white, and black. And the place was LOUD. With every first down, everyone signaled with the ref. With every opposing third down, everyone shouted their lungs out. It was exhilarating. The entire stadium sang along with every song that came over the PA system. And there are so many things unique to the Camp Randall experience. They include:

1) The obscenity cheer. I’ll keep this PG, so one section of the stadium would in unison point at another and yell “Eat poo!” Not to be outdone, the other section would point right back and yell “Screw you!” It’s good to know that Badgers fans keep some of their intensity to themselves and don’t just dump it on opposing teams.

2) The wave. I’ve never seen waves like the kind I saw at Camp Randall today. Sometimes they would be at normal pace. Other times they would be super-slow, crossing the stadium bit by bit, a trickle at a time. And at other times the wave would just fly by. It was a unique variation on what is otherwise pretty standard fare for a sporting event.

3) “Jump Around.” I don’t think when House of Pain wrote this song they had any idea it would be used like this. But it was simply amazing to hop and dance and jump around with 80,000 other Badgers fans. The building rocked, and I was incredibly happy to have been able to take part in it.

As for the game, we’re beginning to see a pattern with Wisconsin against good teams: they hang with them for awhile, maybe even take a lead, but inevitably fade in the second half and then lose. It’s what happened against OSU and it’s what happened today.

The Badgers have a very good defense, there’s no doubting that. They stop the run with the best of them and are able to get decent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, forcing errant passes. Unfortunately, their cornerbacks aren’t quite as good as their front line is, which means that if a quarterback can avoid the sack, chances are a wide receiver or tight end will be open. This was evident today, as Ricky Stanzi threw for over 200 yards and averaged close to 10 yards per completion.

The problem with Wisconsin lies in its inconsistent offense, an offense which seems to have problems sustaining long offensive drives. They can usually do it a couple of times a game, but that’s it. And what that means is that the defense is constantly on the field (Iowa’s time of possession today was 33 minutes to Wisconsin’s 26). This is really hard on the defense, and it tires them. This leads to the second-half fade I talked about earlier. Without long offensive drives (which tend to breakdown in the second half, adding to the problem), Wisconsin cannot expect it’s defense to carry them to victories against these tough teams.

Overall, I had a blast visiting Camp Randall, watching their awesome marching band, and cheering along with everyone else for the upset that never came. Wisconsin has missed its only chances this season to get ranked, and all we can do now is root for a successful conclusion of the series. Oh, and congrats to my cousin Allison Coran, state singles high school tennis champion two years running.

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