MADISON, WIS. – In a city that prides itself on the Wisconsin Badgers, college football, and the ultimate tailgate experience, this Saturday’s game against Ohio State will amp up the electricity at Camp Randall Stadium for both the fans and the players on the field.
A 7:00pm start time does not slow the pace of gam day festivities with College GameDay returning to Madison for the first time since 2011. This is the second time this season that College GameDay will be following the Badgers with the program opening this season at Lambeau Field where the Badgers upset the LSU Tigers. The program airs live from 8:00am to 11:00am on Bascom Hill.
“Especially with College GameDay coming back, it’s going to be a fun time to just relive these moments. We got College GameDay against LSU, and this will be another fun matchup,” running back Corey Clement said after practice Tuesday.
Badgers players are just as excited for the night game atmosphere and the return of College GameDay as are the fans. College football at Camp Randall always brings that Big Ten excitement, but the nighttime atmosphere adds to the anticipation for this weekend.
“It’s very huge especially it being a night game and College GameDay coming,” cornerback Sojourn Shelton said on Monday. “I know the atmosphere is going to be outrageous. I think that’s going to be a tremendous help especially being the defensive side of the ball, get the crowd to be as loud as possible, mess up some of the cadences or the communication between the quarterback and the receivers. It’s one of those environments that you always dream of playing in.”
Returning players reflected on the last night game at Camp Randall last year against Hawaii on Sept. 26, 2015. The 28-0 shutout by the Badgers was what all players described as a high energy game both in their own performance and the atmosphere of Camp Randall. It was the first Badgers night game at home in three years.
“The night game last year against Hawaii was a lot of fun, and there was a lot of energy,” kicker Andrew Endicott said on Wednesday. “Fans got there earlier and stayed longer. It was a lot of fun.”
Senior running back Dare Ogunbowale joked with the media that the biggest difference in the Saturday’s game compared to normal home games was that it would be darker outside.
“It’s a lot more fun,” Ogunbowale added. “Fans usually get there a lot earlier. I would say it’s different, but I wouldn’t say the game is any different, just the atmosphere and the pregame festivities.”
The hype around College GameDay, the bright lights of Camp Randall at night and the challenge of playing a #2 ranked Ohio State team has not affected the mentality of the team this week. Starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook stated that while the atmosphere on Saturday will be an easy accelerator of energy for the team, he is trying to take this week as any other and not get too caught up in the high of big-time college football.
“I think every game is a big one, but all that extra stuff doesn’t affect me too much,” starting right guard Beau Benzschawel said. “It will be cool to be in Camp Randall with all those fans at night especially in a big game. I think we are going to rise to the challenge, and everyone is going to be as excited as they should be.”
The Badgers play Ohio State at 7:00pm at Camp Randall in a game experience that will best be described as uniquely Madison.
Photo courtesy of UW-Madison.