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UW's 1997 upset of Iowa rekindled football rivalry

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Jeff Potrykus
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Friday, November 10, 2017

MADISON--The football rivalry between Wisconsin and Iowa was revived on Nov. 8, 1997.

Barry Alvarez was in his eighth season as UW’s head coach. His teams were 0-5 against Iowa coach Hayden Fry, his boss from 1979-’86.

The Hawkeyes came to Camp Randall Stadium on Nov. 8 ranked No. 12 in the country, 3-2 in the Big Ten and 6-2 overall.

UW was 4-1 in the Big Ten and 7-2 overall but was 0-17-1 in its previous 18 meetings with the Hawkeyes.

UW tailback Ron Dayne carried just seven times that day--all on the Badgers’ first series--before heading to the bench because of an ankle injury.

Backup Eddie Faulkner took over for Dayne and rushed 26 times for 119 yards and a touchdown in UW’s 13-10 upset.

The winless streak was over at 18 games, spread over 20 years.

“You have a streak like that and your guys get to thinking you can’t win,” Alvarez said. “You have to get through that mentally. And their guys think they are going to win.

“You’ve got to get over the hump sooner or later and the guys did it without Ronnie.”

The circumstances will be different when Iowa (6-3, 3-3 Big Ten) meets UW (9-0, 6-0) at 2:30 p.m. today at Camp Randall Stadium.

UW can clinch its second consecutive Big Ten West Division title under Paul Chryst, 30-6 as head coach, and reach the 10-victory mark for the fourth consecutive season, a first in the history of the program.

“It’s really been impressive,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It just seems like whoever is coach there or whoever is playing there, they play a brand that's very similar to what Barry brought there back in the early '90s, and it’s been very, very impressive.”

UW has won 11 of the 18 meetings between the teams, including four of the last five, since that victory in ’97, to take a 45-43-2 overall lead in the series.

Chris McIntosh, a sophomore left tackle in ’97, remembers that UW was manhandled, 31-0, the previous season in Iowa City.

“Barry did a great job of figuring out how to motivate us to win that game,” McIntosh, said of the rematch in ‘97. “In all honesty, ’97 wasn’t our best team in that stretch. But he figured out a way to motivate us to win that game without putting too much pressure on us or making too much of the 0-17-1 business. But he put just enough of a chip on our shoulder to go out and do that.”

The ‘97 victory was the first of five in a row over Iowa.

UW handed Iowa a 31-0 defeat in 1998, Fry’s last season, in Iowa City. Ferentz, Iowa’s offensive line coach from 1981-’89, replaced Fry before the ’99.

He had the misfortune of being on the losing side in arguably the most memorable game in the history of Camp Randall Stadium in ’99.

The date was Nov. 13. Ninth-ranked UW (8-2, 6-1 Big Ten) was playing for the league title and Dayne was within reach of the NCAA all-time rushing mark and Iowa (1-8, 0-6) didn’t have the manpower or experience to stay with UW.

The temperature at kickoff was 67 and the crowd of 79,404 was buzzing.

“As much as we were confident he was going to get it, I think we were paranoid,” said Bill Ferrario, a starting guard on the ’99 team. “I think we felt as linemen that it 100 percent rested on our shoulders. If he broke his leg we’d have to open the hole and carry him through the hole. That was our responsibility.

“That record was for him, for us, for the team, for the university and for the state. For everybody.”

Dayne, who had rushed 32 times for 222 yards and a touchdown in a critical victory at Purdue, needed 99 more yards against Iowa to get the record. He set the mark with a 31-yard run in the second quarter, his 14th carry of the game, and finished with 216 yards on 27 carries in UW’s 41-3 victory.

The Badgers clinched the outright title and Rose Bowl berth, Dayne got the rushing mark and after the game saw his name appear on the fašade of the upper deck, signaling his number would be retired.

“That day was nothing short of magical the way everything lined up, down to the weather,” McIntosh said. “If you were going to write a narrative of how that game should play out, you couldn’t have created a better one."



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