On the Rivalry: Wisconsin


In the second part of a series here at Maize n Brew, we're looking at not only the X's and O's preview of each and every Michigan game, but also at the perspective of you, the loyal fans.  Each week, we're going to interview one of our fellow SB nation writers about what makes each game truly special.  We're looking at great games in history, little-known facts, and the general nature of rivalries.  The other side gets their say, but what about you, Michigan faithful?  Give us your thoughts "On the Rivalry" in the comments!  Q&A about Michigan and the Wisconsin Badgers with our friends over at Bucky's 5th Quarter right after the jump.

Remember Bo: Michigan and Wisconsin have generally had consistent Big Ten success for the better part of the 2000s.  The past few years excluded, how do you feel that program success on both sides contributes to rivalries?

Bucky's 5th Quarter: I think program success is crucial to rivalries. I’ve been around the Wisconsin football program since 2004 and in that time, the Badgers are 7-0 against Minnesota – supposedly the Badgers’ biggest rival. I personally believe Iowa is Wisconsin’s biggest rival. Iowa City is the same distance from Madison and the games have been much more intense and competitive.

RB: Though the game is at the Big House this year, Camp Randall is a very difficult stadium to play in for many opposing teams.  However, Michigan has a very good record (19-5-1 before the RR era started) on Wisconsin's home turf.  Now, though, Wisconsin has won the last three in a row at home.  Would you elaborate on what makes Camp Randall such a tough stadium to play in, and why you think Michigan has had historical success?  Do you see the trend reversing?

B5Q: Well the historical success is simple to explain. Michigan has the most wins in NCAA history and the Badgers were awful until 1993. But you are right, even in the Barry Alvarez era, the Wolverines got their shots in. But the three-game winning streak UW has over Michigan at home coincides with the completed renovations at Camp Randall that made it a fully-enclosed bowl and that has made it a much louder and hostile home environment. That, along with the emphasis Bret Bielema has put on winning at home, will continue to make it tough for Michigan – and plenty of other great Big Ten programs – to come into Madison and get victories.

RB: What is it like from a Wisconsin fan/team perspective to travel to the Big House?  The last few years have been down for Michigan at home, but Michigan, like Wisconsin, plays very well at home.  You'll hear stories of piped-in noise and special practice preparations from many teams.  What's the vibe of the Wisconsin fan base surrounding this game?


B5Q: There is definitely still an aura about going to the Big House, despite Michigan’s recent struggles. I know a lot of fans are excited about making the trip to Ann Arbor this weekend. I’ve only been there once – in 2006 – and I was in the press box for that game so unfortunately I can’t give a first-hand account of how loud it is in there. And I haven’t heard anything from the coaches about piping in noise in practice or anything like that. I think this group of players is simply worried about their own execution. They believe that they can win a game in any environment as long as they execute properly.

RB: Michigan fans generally get pumped up for any Big Ten game, and the city of Ann Arbor reflects this.  How does the area around Camp Randall Stadium get ready for "big" games?  Penn State has Paternoville and pep rallies, while Michigan's frats start pregaming on Thursdays.  What traditions and local colour might a visiting fan or team encounter going to Madison?


B5Q: When I was a student in Madison, we used to have to pick up our tickets for that week’s game at the Kohl Center on Wednesdays. As annoying as that was, it got the students’ minds on football a little earlier in the week. Now I feel like they save it for game days. Wisconsin doesn’t really have any camping out or pep rallies, but Badger fans are known for partying on game days from the time the sun comes up until it sets

RB: The most recent Michigan-Wisconsin game that many of the Maize and Blue would care to remember happened two years ago at the Big House, where Steven Threet's 58-yard rumble capped a 19-point Michigan comeback.  What are the most memorable games that you can remember between the two teams?


B5Q: Well that one will certainly go down as one of the most memorable in series history for both sides, but I know some Badger fans who still think the ’05 win over Chad Henne and Co. was better than the win over Ohio State this season. That ’05 game is certainly one I will never forget because I was diagnosed with a partially collapse lung the morning of that game and the doctor told me I should skip the game. Fat chance. Obviously I’m glad I didn’t. John Stocco’s quarterback draw to win the game is one of the few plays that will forever live on in Badger history.

RB: Lastly, from a basketball perspective, Wisconsin has been the class of the Big Ten pretty consistently in recent years.  Michigan, unfortunately, hasn't.  How do you think that the performances of teams in other sports (basketball, hockey, soccer, etc.) affect the football rivalry, if at all?  And how do you see the Big Ten race shaping up basketball-wise?


B5Q: I think locally – mainly in Wisconsin and Minnesota – the success of the basketball and hockey teams might affect football recruiting a little bit. I have family in Minnesota and I know that every time I go up there for a Badger game there is always some story in the local paper about how Wisconsin is stealing all the players from Minnesota in all sports. But I think football is at the top of the food chain and it has a much bigger effect on basketball and hockey than basketball and hockey has on football. For instance, I know there were a number of recruits across all sports at the Ohio State game this year and they all got to the storm the field and celebrate a huge win with the national spotlight on Madison. You just can’t get those type of recruiting opportunities in other sports. I found that most rivalries stay within sports. Bo Ryan and Tom Izzo have developed a huge rivalry between the two schools, but when Wisconsin plays Michigan State in football, no one is still talking about Bo and Izzo.

As for the basketball season this year, I think it will turn out a lot like last season with Illinois being just a little bit better. The Badgers are headed for another typical Bo Ryan season. They’ll finish in the top four of the Big Ten, win 20-25 games and lose in the second round or Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Ed: Thanks to Bucky's 5th Quarter for the great Q and A.  Until next Thursday, Michigan Faithful.  Cheers!

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