Great Dayne witnesses UW upset Michigan
Ron Dayne accomplished almost everything in his storied University of Wisconsin football career, except….
“Beat Michigan! And it’s great to see the guys beat a team I never got a chance to beat,” the 1999 Heisman Trophy winner said Saturday during his triumphant return to a typically roaring and sold-out Camp Randall Stadium.
Dayne was in town for the highest honor bestowed upon a former Badger star—the retiring of his No. 33. That took place during an halftime ceremony that included a gripping video trip down memory lane.
Wisconsin fans got to see spectacular clips of Dayne’s awesome collection of 200-yard games, Big Ten title clinchers, Rose Bowl victories, a Heisman presentation featuring one of their own. You name it.
But what they didn’t see in the replays was a victory over Michigan. Much to his chagrin, the Badgers went three-and-out against the mighty Wolverines during the Dayne says.
And that begged the obvious question: Which did Badger fans enjoy more, the tear-jerking replays or the sometimes-awesome manhandling of Michigan on the field this day?
With all due respect for the past, our vote goes to the live action, and with good reason. What ultimately became a 37-21 blowout of the Wolverines gave Wisconsin’s accomplished 2007 seniors something extra special on their day and added another remarkable chapter to the Badger memory bank, with one of UW’s greatest heroes here to see it.
And for Dayne, that closed the circle of success with the one thing he left unaccomplished.
It also brought young Bret Bielema within one card of a complete deck in his two years as Wisconsin’s head coach. The win over Michigan leaves Ohio State as the only Big Ten team he hasn’t beaten.
And while maybe not this year, there has been enough recent success against the Buckeyes to satisfy most Badger backers.
Wins over Michigan are what UW faithful really crave. There just havn’t been that many—now only 12 total, to be exact.
It whet Wisconsin’s appetite when the Badgers jolted Michigan with a last-minute victory, 23-20, here two years ago. It stung across the state when the Wolverines handed the UW its only defeat last season, keeping the Badgers from getting the recognition and respect many felt they deserved.
But now, at least for the moment, everything is beautiful in the Badger Nation. And you can say that for a lot of reasons.
Most notably, the Badgers (8-3) had an impressive response to those who suggested their season was over after three losses, no chance for a Big Ten title and slim possibility for a New Year’s Day bowl game.
While it was accomplished on a day with many big names on the markquee, it also was a time for widespread glory. Let us begin to count the heroes in a performance that saw Wisconsin roll up 477 yards from scrimmage and hold Michigan to a mere 47 on the ground: Tyler Donovan, Paul Hubbard, Travis Beckum, Zach Brown, Matt Shaughnessy, Jonathan Casillas, Aaron Henry, Nick Hayden, Jack Ikegwuonu, Tyler Mehlhaff, Ken DeBauche.
If you were watching—and TV finally gave most of you that opportunity—you know what they did. Plenty!
Michigan, minus star running Mike Hart, might say that Wisconsin did it because the Wolverines weren’t at full strength. But please! Don’t talk to the Badgers about injuries.
Anyway, nobody needs to feel sorry for Michigan, even though the Wolverines fell from 6-0 in the Big Ten. They’re still tied for first place and can go to the Rose Bowl by beating Ohio State at Ann Arbor next Saturday.
Meanwhile, it was Senior Day for Wisconsin. And it was indeed special.
“It’s a fun day if you cap it off the right way,”Bielema said.
Picture that circle of success in your mind, and you’ll know the 8-3 Badgers did just that.
Dave Wedeward is the sports editor for The Janesville Gazette.