A bye week can make for a lazy Saturday. Maybe you finish up some yard work before the weather really changes for the worst or maybe one last trip to do your favorite outdoor activities. For me, fun during a bye week is seeing the defending national champion aka the unbeatable aka the mighty aka the lock for the national championship game again from the otherworldly Southeastern Conference fall (at home!) to a mediocre Big 12 team with a freshman quarterback. I also enjoy thinking about the inevitable whipping that the Buckeyes are going to put on Wisconsin and the ensuing painful look on Bert Bielema’s face.
Maybe nobody has actually said it but it has been pretty apparent that Wisconsin has become the secondary rival to our Ohio State Buckeyes. The Badgers fill the “next level” rival spot for Ohio State that Penn State wishes it could be. The players this week have been pointing to the 2010 game (when the Buckeyes were ambushed at Camp Randall and a perfect season was ruined) as the spark that ignited the rivalry, but I think it goes back a lot farther than that. Let’s go back in time…
In the 1999 meeting of the Bucks and Badgers, the Buckeyes delighted the home crowd to a mid-second quarter 17-0 lead. Things seemed to be in cruise control and a blowout eminent, especially with freshman quarterback Brooks Bollinger filling in for injured senior Scott Kavanaugh for Wisconsin. The outcome? 42-17… Badgers.
The Buckeyes got revenge a year later in 2000 winning 23-7 in Madison. It should be noted: This game was played with the lingering stigma of Wisconsin finally returning to full strength after having 26 players suspended for obtaining illegal benefits from a local shoe store earlier that summer. In other words, Wisconsin felt due to the suspension their season was a bust.
In 2001 back in The Shoe, the Buckeyes once again went up 17-0. They would again not hold the lead and lost 20-17 to another Brooks Bollinger lead Badger team.
This made tensions high heading into the 2002 meeting at Camp Randall. As we all remember, the Buckeyes were undefeated and in the midst of making a magical championship run. The Badgers were beginning to be a real thorn in the Buckeyes sides. Would they play the role so many Michigan teams played in the 90’s and spoil the championship dream?
A little added fuel to the fire to help a blossoming rivalry also helped inspire and drive the Buckeyes to remain undefeated. The accelerant came in the form of an autographed picture Brooks Bollinger had given to a friend that was likely never meant to see the light of day. He signed the photo “The Horeshoe. They built it. WE OWN IT.” The Buckeyes won 19-14 and went on to win the national championship. Read More