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The Rollercoaster Ride of a Wisconsin Football Fan’s Emotions

Being a Wisconsin football fan is a roller coaster of emotions.



Wisconsin Badgers football left tackle Nolan Rucci scores the game winning touchdown against Illinois
Oct 21, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Wisconsin Badgers defensive end Isaac Townsend (93) catches a touchdown during the second half against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

My default setting when watching Wisconsin Badgers football is “hater.”

Whether that be the opposing team, my own team, the announcers, or the type of chips I bought that ended up being worse than I thought, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to be hating on something. Is this a healthy way to engage with something over three decades? I don’t know! I’m not a doctor, and neither are you!

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a Philadelphia sports fan by place of birth but a Wisconsin sports fan by family of birth. Those two fanbases don’t have a TON in common, especially when it comes to how they engage with a game. My father, a Wisconsin sports fan by birth (both place and family), was so frustrated with my comments after Illinois went up 14-0 that he left the room we were watching the game in.

Keep in mind that my dad lives in the Philadelphia suburbs, and I live in the Minneapolis suburbs. This was the first game we’d watched together in years and my Hating was just too much for him!

I have tried to be more rational when watching sports, and, quite frankly, I have gotten much better. As weird as it sounds, despite loving them (not you, the Sixers) with all my heart, I’ve become able to consume even the most painful Philadelphia sports losses rationally. The Eagles lost to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl last year, and after 10 minutes of stewing alone in the basement, I was able to rejoin polite society. Maybe it’s the distance? I haven’t lived in Philly for 20 years now, so I don’t even get to watch most games. Who can say for sure? What I can say for sure is I haven’t quite gotten there with the Wisconsin Badgers yet.

During the Wisconsin football game on Saturday, I was furious with Phil Longo, Luke Fickell, Bret Bielema, the screaming announcers who couldn’t even get names right, Wisconsin’s inability to contain a running QB, guys named “Tip” and “Tanner” catching touchdowns for Illinois, and Gavin Meyers for bobbling a hold on a field goal attempt.

The beautiful (???) thing about sports fandom, though, was that when Nolan Rucci caught that touchdown pass I, my kids, my wife, and my cousin’s kid hollered so loudly that my mom physically recoiled at the sound.

I will never stop being a Hater. It’s just too fun. But I’ll also never stop enjoying the ridiculous moments during games that make you come back week after week, hoping you’ll see another one and make a memory with those you hold dear.

Eat shit, Bielema; I hope Illinois loses the rest of their games this year.

Wisconsin Football (Overall: 5-2; B1G: 3-1)

SP+ rank: Overall 28th, Offense 56th, Defense 13th, Special Teams 14th

Previous week’s result: (W) at Illinois, 25-21.

Illinois Thoughts: What a rollercoaster ride this game was! Wisconsin football looked absolutely clueless for three quarters and then as if by magic, turned into an offensive and defensive juggernaut in the final period. This wasn’t a “good win” in the sense that the Illini are a good team (because they aren’t; they stink), but it IS a “good one” in the sense that the Badgers battled back from a double-digit deficit on the road with a backup quarterback making his first career start.

“For the first time in 10 months, I saw something from our guys in the fourth quarter that I hadn’t seen before. Resilience, fight and grit,” head coach Luke Fickell said after the game.

Braedyn Locke looked, all things considered, pretty good at quarterback.

His completion percentage wasn’t high, but he limited mistakes (only sacked once; one turnover) and made a couple of throws that you rarely see a Wisconsin QB make. He looked like a guy who had been playing in this style of offense for years (which he is), and as he gains more collegiate experience, I’m cautiously optimistic about what he can become.

Star running back Braelon Allen made things easier on his new QB by rushing for 145 yards on 29 carries, and slot receiver Will Pauling was a reliable target, hauling in seven catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. Locke’s top receiver, however, was…uh…well, not really a receiver at all. The 6-foot-8, 300+ pound Nolan Rucci, a redshirt sophomore offensive tackle, skied for the game-winning touchdown with 27 seconds left in the game in what can only be described as a “Phil Longo Has Stones” play call.

Incredible. Unexpected. Perfect. The announcer’s screaming call of “TOUCHDOWN RUCCI!” and then a little pause, “THE OTHER ONE!” will live in my head for eternity. I have been on Longo’s case for the past few weeks, as the Wisconsin football offense has looked disjointed and, at times, pathetic.

But he called a pair of masterful drives in the fourth quarter to bring the Badgers all the way back for the win, and it was, quite frankly, impressive.

UW went 10 plays, 82 yards in 3:25 to score a touchdown to make it 21-18 and then went 14 plays, 83 yards in 2:57 for the game-winner. Two double-digit play drives of over 80 yards, and they took a combined 6:22 of game clock! This new-look Wisconsin Badgers offense is crazy, man.

Wisconsin’s defense, which struggled with a mobile quarterback for the 1,000th straight season, was solid, too. They ended the last three Illinois drives of the game with monster sacks and barely allowed Illinois into Badgers territory for the entire fourth quarter. Shoutout Darryl Peterson (1.5 sacks) and Maema Njongmeta (1.0 sack, 2.0 TFL) for living in the Illini backfield for the final 15 minutes.

What’s Next for the Wisconsin Badgers? 

Up next: Saturday, Oct. 21, vs. No. 3 Ohio State, 6:30 p.m. CT, NBC

Ohio State Thoughts: Well, well, well…here we are. The “mighty” Ohio State Buckeyes are coming to town, and Wisconsin football has a chance to change the narrative on their season completely. 

OSU is as ripe for an upset as they’ve been in some time. They are soft in the trenches and are coached by a cowardly loser who is absolutely terrified to compete with Michigan. Their beating Penn State means nothing because Penn State under James Franklin is a fraudulent loser program that can’t beat any team with a comparable talent level to them.

However, Ohio State has one thing that nobody else has and that’s Marvin Harrison Jr. He is going to have a field day against the Wisconsin Badgers secondary, and I don’t know if there is a receiving yards number you could pick where I wouldn’t take the over.

The Buckeyes are more talented than Wisconsin football at just about every position, but it’s their wide receivers against UW’s cornerbacks where that disparity will be painfully obvious.

I thought at the beginning of the season that Wisconsin could beat Ohio State. Last week I thought there was zero chance of the game even being competitive. This week? I still don’t think Wisconsin will win…but I could easily be convinced by Saturday morning.

Fun Tweet of the Week I Wanted To Include Just Because

Man, it is difficult to remember a team that has had a worse season than Michigan State has had in 2023.

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Drew Hamm is a seasoned sports journalist with an extensive background in covering the Wisconsin Badgers. He has previously held positions as the site manager at Bucky's 5th Quarter and founder of Badgers Ball Knower. Currently, he contributes as a staff writer for