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November 14, 2013
A Fans Experience at Camp Randall
Where the beer flows like caffeine free Diet Coke, Wisconsin was a bit of a let down. Don't get me wrong; I didn't have a negative experience at all. But when it comes to the campus and tailgating, I was a bit disappointed.
We are obsessed with BYU football in my family. We talk about Cougar football 365 days a year. With that, we've done a lot of traveling, just to name a few - UCLA, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Texas, Arizona etc. But before you read any further, know this - I've been to Ole Miss and Notre Dame, the few Holy Grails of college football. The bar is set pretty high for me whenever I travel to BYU away games.
Wisconsin's campus is unique. It feels like more of a city than an actual college campus. The setting is cool with a lake being near by, all of the facilities look new and the bookstore, not surprisingly, was much better than BYU's tiny excuse for a bookstore. Sometimes I couldn't tell if we were on campus or just in downtown Madison. So I wasn't the biggest fan of campus for this reason. Give me a huge grassy quad with nerds throwing a Frisbee around!
We got to the stadium with plenty of time, 4 or 5 hours before kickoff. We thought we'd have plenty to do and see, after all this is Big 10 football right? I could have gotten to campus 2 hours before kick and felt like I saw plenty. The main tailgate, the "Badger Bash", was nothing more than some music and a gathering of people. As much as I fight it, I can't stop thinking of Ole Miss in instances like this. Not even comparable. Eventually the band showed up to do a concert like what Notre Dame does before every game. We ended up leaving within fifteen minutes. They did play the BYU fight song, which I did appreciate.
There were plenty of frat houses around. We surprisingly weren't harassed with smack talk or polygamist comments by any co-eds. Either Wisconsin has some of the nicest drunks who hold their liquor extremely well or they didn't see BYU as a threat. I think it was a combination of both. Every Wisconsin fan I talked to was extremely nice. The most refreshing thing was religion didn't come up, purely football talk. Was there still some Big 10 arrogance? Sure. But it's not like BYU fed them a slice of humble pie.
Walking into Camp Randall was awesome, much better in person. It is a beautiful stadium, very nice video boards with a great sound system. I was very jealous of all the suites that are available - the wind became bone chilling as the game went on.
But for a stadium that holds 80,000 fans, the crowd noise was very average. Whether this was because BYU never made much of a threat or it was just an off night, I don't know. But I was expecting a lot more. Even the infamous "Jump Around" in the 4th quarter seemed comparable to "Sandstorm" at a BYU basketball game. Plus Big 10 football about puts me to sleep. No hurry up offense, huddle every down and talk about this. Run the ball and then run it some more. And just when you think they might pass, false. Run!
Whenever you travel for an away game, you essentially are gambling, throwing down plane tickets, hotel and game tickets in hope that your team pulls through. And if your team does lose, you hope the experience will be worth it. Was the experience worth the loss and frustration I went through at the game? Probably not. I mean, who willingly goes to Wisconsin for a vacation in November? But it's not every day you get the chance to eat some fantastic brats and cheese curds.
Badger fans couldn't have been nicer, before and after the game. For that, I am both impressed and grateful. My Madison experience was good, not great. But I am a college football junkie. I enjoy exploring other campuses and meeting new people. So for that reason alone, the gamble is always worth it.