Badgers rise early on game day. You can see them emerge under the bright morning sun in small packs of Rose Bowl red.
They migrate amiably down city streets, stopping at periodic watering holes and gathering momentum. Lured by the smell of grilling brats and the sound of snapping pull tabs, they make their way west.
With an instinct born of a 124-year old football tradition, they file into Camp Randall Stadium — young men in candy-striped overalls, pretty girls in cut-off jeans and face tattoos, chunky little toddlers in game jerseys, and gray-haired professors wearing “Teach me how to Bucky” T-shirts.
We spent some time Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin, voted America’s Best College Football Town by U.S.A. today readers and, like we wrote about last year, we love the game day experience every time.
We saw kilt-wearing Irishmen jumping from a double-decker bus to play bagpipes on State Street, and a tailgate tent city called “Badgerville.”
We heard the Badger band outside the stadium at a festive pre-game concert, and inside the stadium where they capped an excellent half-time performance with a traditionally raucous fifth quarter.
Though we politely ignored some of the student chants, we participated in others. In fact, thanks to the high-powered UW offense, we joined the crowd in shouting “First and ten Wisconsin!” 29 times and watched poor Bucky Badger do a grand total of 195 push ups throughout the sweaty 48-0 shutout.
Here is a quick clip of a whole stadium full of happy Badgers singing their anthem, Varsity.