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A TIE IN MADISON
In the week leading up to last Saturday's game against Ohio State, Wisconsin officials knocked themselves out making sure there would not be a repeat of the events of Oct. 30, when a surge of euphoric Wisconsin students stormed the field after the Badgers' 13-10 win over Michigan (SI, Nov. 8). The result that day was the hospitalization of 69 people, seven of whom were critically injured. By the time the Buckeyes arrived in Madison last Friday night, plans were in place: Security would be beefed up at Camp Randall Stadium; overcrowding in the student section, once winked at, would not be tolerated; the chain link fence that had collapsed, trapping many beneath it, had been replaced with fencing that featured quick-release gates.
As it turned out, Ohio State's Marlon Kerner ensured that none of those precautions would be necessary on Saturday. With seven seconds remaining in a game that was tied at 14, he knifed in from his left corner spot, stretched out and batted down Rick Schnetzky's 32-yard field goal attempt. Kerner's acrobatics spared Ohio State its first loss of the season and snatched from the Badgers what would have been one of the biggest wins in school history. His block also plunged Camp Randall's Bleacher Creatures—some of whom had already pressed up against the new fence—into mute inertia.
Seldom does a tie yield such clear winners and losers. Several Buckeye players ran off the field shouting, "Roses, baby!" at Wisconsin students who had spent the afternoon strafing them with coin-packed marshmallows. Unless 8-0-1 Ohio State loses one of its final two games, against Indiana and Michigan, the Buckeyes will play in Pasadena. The Badgers, now 7-1-1, are bound for a second-place Big Ten finish and the Citrus Bowl. Said Badger offensive tackle Joe Panos, "We're down right now, but we'll bounce back."
Panos knows something about resilience. The week before, he wept while pulling fellow students from what had become a trough of human limbs. He had been one of 10 or so Badgers who were still on the field when the calamity began and who helped in the rescue operation. Walk-on wide receiver Mike Brin had waded into the bleachers and performed CPR on one young woman, probably saving her life.
Counseling was made available for traumatized students and players. Meanwhile, the school got calls from 20/20, Hard Copy, Rescue 911—"everyone but America's Most Wanted," said Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez—requesting interviews and credentials for the Ohio State game. The Badgers shot them all down.
Alvarez arranged for Dan Ruettiger—the real-life Rudy—to give the team a Friday-night pep talk, but when Rudy's publicists tried to use the opportunity to promote the film, Alvarez lost his temper. "Tell his people to back off," said Alvarez, "or I'll pull their tickets." The flacks beat a hasty retreat.
The players' spirits were buoyed during the week as most of the injured were released from the hospital. Still, Alvarez told his assistants to keep an eye on the guys who had seen the disaster firsthand. "I still see some funny looks on their faces," he said the day before the game. "I have no idea how the guys will respond."
The guys responded well. Quarterback Darrell Bevell's eight-yard scoring pass to Lee DeRamus in the second quarter made the score 7-7. Tailback Brent Moss's three-yard TD run in the third quarter gave Wisconsin the lead. And when the Badgers downed a punt on the Ohio State one-yard line with 4:34 left, the Buckeyes' first loss seemed assured.
Four plays later, however, the game was tied. The Buckeyes' sensational wide-out, Joey Galloway, who had only two receptions coming into the fourth quarter, caught passes on three of those four plays. The last one was a 26-yard scoring strike that left Badger cornerback Donny Brady humbled.