Monday, October 17, 2016

Cheese Curds and Old Fashioneds

On Wisconsin!
No college football journey is complete until you have made the pilgrimage to the top rated college town of Madison, WI, home of the Wisconsin Badgers. With the reputation of being a sports crazed, festive hard partying town, it’s easy to see why this is a must go to place. As an added bonus, the Wisconsin Badgers would be playing The Ohio State Buckeyes, the #2 team in the country and ESPN College Game day would broadcast live from Campus. I was joined on the trip by 13 loyal DFTers, consisting of the Dons of Danville, the Byom Crew and Frostburgers. We chose this as the *“Anchor Game” for 2017 because we could also catch a Green Bay Packers game on Sunday at historic Lambeau Field.

*My entire schedule each year starts with setting the Anchor game first.

After arriving at our hotel in Madison, we all assembled around 8:30 PM Friday night for roll call inspection, and an Old Fashioned Brandy Alexander (it’s a Wisconsin thing). Then it was off to see all that Madison AKA Mad Town had to offer. First stop was the famous State Street district for chow at Hop Cat, followed by Paul’s, Genna’s and the Cigar Bar. Next thing you know, the clock struck 3:00 and it was time to go nighty night and prepare for game day as the town was closing down.
The evil spirits appeared out of nowhere

Wisconsin has a student population of 42,000 total and sits on an urban campus of approximately 1,000 acres. The Badgers are part of the historic Big Ten Conference (with 14 teams) and play their home games at Camp Randall. Camp Randall was once used as a Military training camp for the Yankees during the “not so Civil” War. It has been around in some form since 1895 and its current capacity is a little over 80,000. The fans are known to be some of the rowdiest (in a good way) in the nation. During the course of the game you will hear all 80,000 sing Build Me Up Buttercup and bounce to the Jump Around prior to the start of the 4th quarter. 

Saturday morning arrived and only half of our crew made it to College Gameday to raise the DFT banner. The other half was still getting their beauty rest. A subset of our posse was back on State Street at Whiskey Jacks Saloon by noon for cheese curds, old fashioned concoctions and Bloody Marys. What better way to enjoy Wisconsin?
The DFT crew that made Gameday and new friends
And those of us that chose other activities
By 4 PM we all reassembled at the Byom Family Tailgate on Regent Street for brats, beer and other food sources and liquid concoctions. In order to get in the full swing of the Big ten atmosphere, the fearless wing of our troupe were attired in red and white striped overalls appearing like creepy clowns. There was even a Drubaca sighting at the tailgate. Regent Street is a scene that is hard to describe without seeing it for yourself. Bar after bar with outdoor beer gardens for a ½ mile leading into the Stadium. Thousands of fans that probably never made it into the game were occupying every safe zone drinking spot one could find. It was reminiscent of Fort Lauderdale circa early 1980s. However this time I did not enter wet t- shirt or belly flop contests, I think. Word of caution, do not walk around town with a roadie, it is a great revenue source for the Po Po.

Tom Byom and Dad

Say Cheeze Curds!
The authorities were on hand at the Tailgate
Camp Randall stadium is an iconic venue right on campus backing up to the old Field House. If you give the Wisconsinites all day to prepare for a night game, you can expect an electrifying experience. The scene getting into the stadium looked like passengers congregating on the deck of the Titanic. Complete chaos. Once inside, we had excellent seats in the lower bowl end zone area. However, one negative for the stadium was that the bathrooms on our level were port a potties with long ques. The Wisconsin Marching Band entertained the crowd pre-game. As the Badgers took the field, Ohio State pulled a Bieberesque move and exited their tunnel at virtually the same time turning cheers into jeers.

Magic Mike, 40 years after playing in the Field House
The Badgers were fired up and up to the task in taking on the mighty Buckeyes. The Badgers scored first on a field goal, followed up by 10 more points to the Buckeyes two field goals. The Badger Defense was as stout as advertised keeping Buckeye All American JT Barrett in check. During the second quarter the whole stadium erupted in song to the tune of Build Me Up Buttercup by the Foundations. It’s amazing how we all thought we knew the words.  Wisconsin Running Back Corey Clement ran at will against the vaunted Ohio State Defense. Just before half, the Badgers scored an apparent touchdown only to have it nullified on a holding call. They settled for a field goal and took a 16- 6 lead into halftime. 
Tom giving us some pointers

The halftime performance by the Band was only mediocre as they played songs from the Lion King accompanied by an interpretive dance team. I was really looking forward to one of their patented performances. At the start of the 3rd quarter the entire student section turned on their phone flash lights and lit up their area of the stadium. Apparently this is another Camp Randall tradition. As the on field action commenced, the momentum began to shift as the deeper Ohio State squad started dictating the offensive flow of the game. By the end of the 3rd quarter the Buckeyes had scored a touchdown and narrowed the gap to 3 points. And now for the highlight of the night: 80,000 cheese heads doing the Jump Around. It was all that it was built up to be.

The Buckeyes would score 10 more points and the Badgers 7 for a 23- 23 score at the end of regulation. In over time, Ohio State scored first and prevented the Badgers from scoring to eke out a 30-23 win. Another great game with an OT finish for the DFT crew this year. The 5th quarter Band performance was cancelled due to the Thunder storm that was just beginning as the game ended. Some of us headed back to the hotel like good boys while others continued to visit the sites of Regent and State Street representing the DFT crew strongly. The Mad Town experience ranks up there in my all-time Top 10 College Football weekends. I described it as a city wide tailgate party.

Sunday morning the Griswold family truckster was loaded up and on its way to Green Bay to watch the Packers take on the Cowboys in NFL action. Lambeau field is the only NFL Cathedral that was on my bucket list, thus the DFT crew had to go outside their comfort zone to watch the professionals. We convened at Krohl’s West for pre-game chow, libations and football tossing contests. The stadium was amazing, the Packers were not as they were schooled by rookie sensation Dak Prescott and the Cowboys. Halftime was special as they honored Packer great Brett Favre in the Green Bay ring of honor. They could have used him for the game as Aaron Rogers was not himself.  Final score was Dallas 30, Green Bay 16.
The iconic Lambeau Field

Ospreys flying over Lambeau

 Around the Country – Clemson almost Clemsoned it against a spirited NC State team by luckily making it to OT and winning it. Bama slobber- knocked the overrated Tennessee Vols in Knoxville by a score of 48-10. Oklahoma kept up it’s Big 12 streak by downing the Fighting Bill Snyders of Kansas State. We won’t talk about Notre Dame this week or for the rest of the season. Nebraska improves to 6-0 after fending off a pesky Indiana squad. Can anyone tell me why Ole Miss is still in the top 25 after losing again to a mediocre Arkansas team? Boise State almost let victory evade them as they gave up a huge lead to CSU in the final minutes but held on for a close win.  Did anyone notice that Western Michigan is 7-0 and ranked #20 in the Coaches poll?
The Iorios and mates rooting on the Irish

#2 and friends in their sweet suite at OU game

No fireball at the Samford Tailgate

Bieber Award – Our old friend and Bieber HOFer Scam Newton’s post game performance reigned supreme this week. As he did after the Super Bowl press conference, the usually smile happy talkative Scamster went into sulk mode in the post-game presser. Outfitted in his stylish pimp hat with his head down he mumbled one and two word answers to the media as they asked questions. Now where is that million dollar smile and golden personality that you allegedly have Scamster? Perhaps it disappeared along with your on field performance leading last year’s super bowl runner up to a 1-5 start. You can take comfort in the fact that as a Pro you are still not out of contention to periodically win the Bieber award.

Next up – The Tailgate will be taking a respite next weekend being fanned and fed grapes by his adoring family whilst horizontal on the couch.

Happy Tailgating!

Camp Randall all lit up
Green Bay Marketing at its best