We drove up to S.F. on Thursday night and caught our flight to Madison, (via Chicago), the following morning. While we were waiting to board a guy next to me asked me to watch his stuff while he went to buy some Ghirardelli chocolate. I said sure, and when he came back we started some small talk.
After he found out we were traveling for a football game he got SO pumped! I guess his family are season ticket holders for Michigan football. He kept telling us that we were going to have tons of fun, and that he did believe Cal Poly had a chance to win. He also told us that Wisconsin fans are really nice to opposing fans, which I was very thankful to hear. I definitely do not like routing for a 'visiting' team in any sporting arena. What is awesome is that he was totally right. Most of the fans we met were so nice and polite, and told us how great Cal Poly played. Granted there were a few a-holes behind us in the stands who made some snide remarks, but at least none of the CP fans got into it with them.
Along with telling us to drink a lot of beer and to eat chili, he also told us that people surf on The Great Lakes. Say what? John was super skeptical so then the guy started telling us about the movie 'Unsalted.' That was his proof. Looks like he knew what he was talking about.
Overall the dude was really nice. He had moved out to S.F. for the last 3 months and was so excited to go home to visit his family. It was interesting talking to someone who knew so little about California, and knew so much about the mid-west.
The flight went as well as it could. John and I did not have seats together (on both flights), but what is worse is that I had to sit next to a very large man. He seriously took up 1.5 seats. I was lucky that I was on the aisle so I could partially hang out of the seat and elevate my foot at the same time. He was very nice, but I felt bad for him. I'm sure he would have been much happier/comfortable if he had bought two tickets. One cool thing was that we saw a man and woman decked out in CP gear get on the plane and John totally gave the dude a high five! It totally cracked me up.
When we landed in Chicago I had a cart waiting for me, and thank goodness I did! Our connecting gate was totally in BFE. We also had to walk outside to get to the plane and it was SO cold, and John was still in his t-shirt! Crazy man.
We got into Madison around 6pm, (4pm CA time), and we were both exhausted! I was so mad! There was no reason we should have been that tired...unless it was a sign of old age! No way!
As I was walking out of the plane, some worker said 'Welcome to Sconnie!' I was like, 'say what?' What the heck did that guy say to me? I then realized it must have been some sort of nickname for Wisconsin. Then for the life of me I could not remember what the dude said. It was killing me because I couldn't ask John if he had ever heard of the name before. I just think that is the funniest nickname. Do you think it's like 'Cali'? For the rest of the trip whenever I would need to say Wisconsin I would say Sconnie, so I'd blend in with the locals. You know it totally worked.
Our hotel had complimentary appetizers each night so after we checked in we headed back down to check the scene. There were a few peeps milling about in CP gear, which got us pumped up. It was then that we realized that most of the people traveling for the game were PARENTS! DUH!
We grabbed a cab for dinner and went to the Great Dane Pub and Brewing Co. It was totally packed but we found one table open by the pool tables. I found it very interesting to people watch as I'm used to seeing college kids in shorts and flip flops. Here everyone is bundled up from head to toe!
We had a couple of pool balls come our way and one dude fell down. I don't think he was wasted...maybe he just lost his balance? Whatever the reason, his friends looked horrified.
The food was really tasty, but what really made the cake was that they had cider on tap!!!! It was SO good.
As you can see I'm sporting a new hat that my mom made for me. I can't help feel like Chicky Baby from the blues band in Pee-Wee's Playhouse. Is there a resemblance even though my right eye is visible?
We decided to walk back to the hotel after dinner as I really wanted to check out their downtown. It was SO cute....but SO cold. We couldn't walk that fast because I was still limping around, but John didn't seem to mind. Or did he?
They had some really cute shops and tasty looking restaurants. It seemed like most of the shops were trendier than the main street in Boulder, CO. What else was interesting was the huge variety in ethnic restaurants. There were multiple Indian and Greek places, along with Thai, African, and Afghanistan. I was really impressed, but also sad that I couldn't try them all.
Since we were totally freezing we decided to grab a hot chocolate at a coffee shop, which was the perfect topper to the evening.
The next morning we totally slept in due to the 2 hour jet lag. No joke! There was the local paper outside of our door so we decided to see what the write up was about the day's game. It was pretty good, and gave CP props where necessary. However they predicted a Wisconsin victory by 20 points. I thought, well as long as we can stay close to them for a couple of quarters I'll be satisfied.
Here is a photo of their main street that I took on the way to the stadium:
We walked around a bit before we headed to the tail gate. I wanted to buy my dad a cheese head for Christmas, but they were $20! (Sorry dad, even though I know how much you love Brett Favre).
On our way over to the stadium there were Wisconsin fans EVERYWHERE! Mostly because they all ate lunch downtown, and since the campus is located at the end of the street, they could just walk to the game. However on our walk we did see some people wearing green and yellow! We would get very excited until we saw that they were PACKER fans!!! You know that once they realized that CP's colors were the same that they were pissed!!
The Cal Poly Alumni Association had organized a tail gate lunch before the game which included a really good meal. We sat next to three young kids and all found out that they graduated this year and 2 of them had moved out to the mid-west to attend grad school. There was one other table with younger looking students, however I think they all might have been alumni as well. The majority of the crowd were parents and old local alumni.
As we walked towards the stadium I tried not to make any eye contact with the badger fans, because it seemed when I did I would get a lot of stink eyes! When we finally saw the outside of the stadium I was totally taken aback at how HUGE it was! All it needed was one more level and it would have been as big as a professional stadium.
I wasn't sure how good our seats were going to be because the visitor section in CP's stadium is in the boonies. However our seats were AWESOME! We were 2 rows from the field and right behind our teams bench! What was the best part is that the first three rows were all CP fans. I think there were about 100 fans out of 50k that were routing for CP. Let me say you form a very quick bond with those few fans.
Finally it was time for the game to start, and the Mustangs made their entrance!
It was amazing how everything was so much bigger...the stadium...the band...their football players. Click on this photo to enlarge it. Can you tell how much bigger/taller they were than us?
Another thing that was great was their scoreboard with a video screen. Because of the screen we got to watch the replays and it was awesome! There were even a few calls that were 'reviewed' which is also different from the regular CP games. One thing that was a killer was the TV timeouts. We were already out there freezing, and then when you add extra minutes just for the TV crowd it was a killer.
Here we are trying to stay warm. I didn't really get cold until the 4th quarter. I also didn't need to use any hand warmers which surprised me.
At one point the band came and played in front of us. It was pretty sweet.
It's tradition at Camp Randall that before the 4th quarter they play 'Jump Around' and everyone jumps. Now I heard about this before going, and I thought 'Big deal! They play that at the CP stadium too.' Boy was I wrong! The WHOLE stadium jumps, not just the student section, (like at our home games). I tried to get a video but I don't think it does it justice. (You might need to watch it twice).
The Mustangs lead the WHOLE game until they lost in overtime. I don't know if I've ever been to a more exciting football game. It was seriously like the Super Bowl. Almost more exciting than that because CP was such a huge underdog, and for them to play FLAWLESS almost the whole game was just amazing. Of course the only flawless thing was our kicker. He missed two extra points during regulation play and had we had those two points then Wisconsin would not have been able to tie it up.
Once we went into overtime we knew the odds were against us. In college each team gets a chance to score from their own 20 yard line. They continue to go back and forth until one team does not score.
CP got the ball first and on the first play our quarterback, Johnathan Dally, threw the perfect pass to our star wide receiver, Ramses Barden, for a touch down. It was SO exciting. However the excitement soon disappeared as our kicker went on the field. I couldn't watch. So I watched John's reaction. He first looked hopeful, and then told me he missed. The ball hit the top of the goal post and bounced out. I seriously could not believe it. Of course Wisconsin was going to score, and of course their kicker was not going to miss.
What I don't understand is why we didn't go for two. We would have had a better chance at making it across the goal line then our kicker had of making the kick.
I just couldn't believe that the Mustangs were in route to pull off one of the biggest upsets ever and it slipped through their fingers. It was such a heart breaker. I was extremely mad at the kicker and still am. John says he felt bad for the guy because he's just a kid, but I don't. Dealing with missing kicks is part of being a kicker. I have not one ounce of sympathy for him. Maybe if he missed one kick I would feel bad, but THREE? NO WAY! Just yesterday an article came out in the local paper about Andrew Gardner and how he did fine in the play-off game this past Saturday. But you know what? I don't care! I, and I'm sure MANY others, will never forget his missed kicks in Wisconsin. The article had some points, but nothing that was valid, in my opinion.
One point was that the misses always over shadow the makes. (He made a field goal in the beginning of the season to win one game.) I don't think making one field goal compares to missing three extra points in one game. They weren't long field goals either, they were 'gimme' points. Totally different.
Sorry for the tangent. It's just that I've been mad for a week and a half, and when I read that article about it, it just made me more mad. What is worse is that he is a Junior which means he will be back next year.
There are a few other good articles that I found online about the game if you'd like to check them out. One of them gives a bit better play by play then I did. Article 1 and article 2.
Also this week a Wisconsin fan wrote into CP's newspaper about how impressed he was with our team. It's a really nice article if you care to check it out.
After the game we decided to drown our sorrows at in the hotel bar with a few cocktails.
A few other CP fans showed up and we all were able to complain together. Although there was quiet a bit of sympathy for the kicker in the room, I remained silent. After our appetizers we headed downtown and ate an Italian place. It was really good despite the cheap prices and odd atmosphere.
The next morning we had to get up at 6:30am to get to the airport on time. That doesn't seem that early right? Well when you are still on CA time it is WAY too early. My body totally thought it was 4:30am! It was a total killer which lead for us both to be exhausted on the whole trip home. At least on both of our flights home we got to sit together. You don't realize how great it is to sit next to your traveling companion, until you aren't able to. Needless to say just because of that the trip was much more enjoyable. Also our connection was in Denver on the way back which was nicer too, because one flight wasn't way longer than the other.
When we landed in Denver we decided to practice our Amazing Race skills and see if we could get on a earlier flight. It totally worked! We had about a half hour before the flight took off so we had to grab a bite to eat and then eat it as fast as we could. By catching that flight we shaved off 2 hours on our trip and made it home around 5pm. My foot was also extra sore all day. Do you think it had anything to do with all of my celebratory jumping at the game?
I had the BEST time in Wisconsin and am so glad I talked John into going with me. I was all ready to travel to Montana had CP won their game this past weekend, but they lost. It seems like the team they played watched the Wisconsin game tapes and learned that we had no passing defense. I find it interesting that no other teams figured that out this season. Oh well...there is always next season!