I don't know if they hate us, or if they're just jealous. Or maybe they do hate us and its because they're jealous.
On Saturday, October 17th, 2009, while living in Iowa, I visited Camp Randall for the first time with three Hawkeye buddies for the Iowa at Wisconsin game. In terms of attending a sporting event it was an excellent day (elsewhere our Buckeyes were being run out of West Lafayette). The atmosphere that day was damn near friendly. It was college football. It was two teams whose fanbases have a ton of pride in their respective schools, but seemingly not much hate. It was a random "Go Hawks" against a less-than-random "Do the Bucky." Pretty calm, actually.
I rooted my ass of for Wisconsin that afternoon, in defeat, for three hours.
That night, after Iowa held off a late surge to beat Wisconsin 20-10, we bar hopped through Madison until the wee hours and at one point I spent an hour sitting at a table for four with my two buddies and, oddly enough, Wisconsin's second team All-American linebacker O'Brien Schofield. He was cordial after a loss, engaging, and even told us a couple of great on-the-field Terrelle Pryor stories when he saw the Ohio State shirt I had on. Good times.
I left Madison that weekend having had a pretty good time considering I missed the Ohio State game. Their fans were cool, the atmosphere was vintage college football, and "Jump Around" damn near gave me cold chills.
What a difference a year makes.
In mid-October 2010 I was preparing to move out west from Iowa and decided to head back to Madison with one last shot left to watch our Buckeyes in person with only two weeks left before my planned departure. We were the newly crowned #1 team in the nation, I had two great non-OSU friends in tow one last time, and I was ready for some spirited tailgating, a Buckeyes victory, and to sit at Wando's with another down-on-his-luck Badger All-American sitting with us in defeat this talking up Ohio State.
Not so much.
We walked onto campus from our far away parking spot looking for a tailgate, some pregame predictions, and a free "welcome to Madison" beer from some random fan. Instead, within twenty steps of setting foot on campus, we were taking peanuts to the skull. Yes, peanuts. Not a big deal though, right? "Every campus has its idiots."
This one was full of them. They hate us.
We went to ESPN's College Gameday early, verified for ourselves that the Washington State flags do indeed fly every week, and left after a few hours of checking out Erin Andrews, watching Lee Corso dance around as the Badgers' mascot, and plenty of "LeBron James hates you" chanting. No biggie. "They're just amped to have Erin Andrews in town, right?"
Game time came and we were in the third row in a corner of Camp Randall opposite the student section. We had Herbie, Des, and Fowler fifteen feet from us filming live before kickoff. Ohio State's pregame warmups and our "hive" entrance were great to watch up close. It was as HD as it gets, but shortly there after our view was upgraded to 3-D when Wisconsin's David Gilreath returned the opening kickoff 97 yards coming right at us.
Two John Clay touchdowns later and the route was on. I spent the next hour-plus trying to figure out how Tressel was going to get us a victory out of a 21-0 hole and while I couldn't picture it yet I was still pretty sure it was going to happen.
By the time the student section started to "Jump Around" Ohio State was within eleven and about to punch it it for seven more. The Buckeyes had every bit of momentum and no less than a dozen of our players were at the hashmarks, helmets raised above their heads, celebrating the soon-to-be-victory with the thousands of Badger students.
As we all know the comeback didn't happen. We weren't number one come Monday, and my night was just beginning.
We headed out of the stadium still having plans to hop around from establishment to establishment amongst the party. We weren't but a few steps out of the gate when in came more peanuts. I'm pretty sure the first one hit me in the ear, and I barely remember the next 25-30. "Seriously though, what in the hell is with the peanuts!?"
I didn't speak a single word over the quarter mile walk through the rioting morons but we had more stuff thrown at us and were shoved, punched, slapped, screamed at, cussed at, and I learned at least three new words during that uncomfortable journey. I'm pretty sure someone's grandma, wearing a "Bucky" t-shirt, stole $3 from me and I didn't even defend myself. She was one of 80,300 searching out anyone wearing scarlet and gray so they could take a decade worth of frustration out on us, and that's just my honest opinion.
I understand that knocking off #1 is a big deal, especially when that #1 has dominated your conference for a decade. I get it. Party it up. Have at it, kids. But if 1,000 people spoke to us after that game, and I'm sure it was at least that many, you would think at least 75% of them would have some class. The only people who spoke to us with any class at all was an older couple who pointed which direction we should go to get out of the mess. The rest were heaving beer bottles.
We saw Coach Tressel knocked to the ground during Wisconsin's 2004 post game dance on the block "O" after beating us and avenged it the next time we saw them, in 2007, with a 38-17 beat down. Jared Sullinger was spit on by one of the upstanding Wisconsin fans this past February and for all intents and purposes was called a liar by head basketball coach Bo Ryan and his postgame "deal with it." That was before Ohio State put them back in their rightful place with a 28-point win at the Schott just three weeks later.
It's that time again.
In three days Wisconsin comes back into the 'Shoe with fire in their eyes after getting knocked off by Michigan State's miraculous hail mary and with every ounce of Buckeye passion I have I hope we whip their asses. We need the win and they need to understand that they're still not the best team in the Big Ten, even with their shiny new free agent quarterback.
We're 8-point underdogs at the 'Shoe and unfortunately my front door is 2,468 miles from Ohio Stadium or else I'd love to be there. Regardless, win or lose, some Wisconsin fan needs cracked in the melon with a peanut.