Well, that 700 mile round trip was fun. At least I got a great deal on a hotel room, a cheap rental car for the weekend, and I got to experience one of the best venues in all of college football. I have decided that I have a new number one on my favorite venues list. The fans at Wisconsin were the most pleasant fans I have ever been around. Madison is a fantastic college town and Camp Randall Stadium was one of the most accommodating places I have ever watched a football game. We never heard a single harsh word uttered to us before or after the game. Most everyone even welcomed us with open arms.
It would have been nice if the Purdue football team had joined us.
What follows is the travel log from the weekend. All times are Indianapolis time:
This is as close as anyone in a Purdue jersey got to the end zone. Yes, I was rocking my Kory Sheets jersey.
5:43pm Friday - Indianapolis, IN - We're rollin' this weekend in a Chevy Cobalt from Hertz. Why? 1. It was only $27 for the weekend. 2. My Jeep has 112,000 miles on it, it's paid for, and I need it to stay that way. 3. I'll save more than $27 in gas mileage anyway. 4. Because you know everyone is Big Pimpin' in a Chevy Cobalt.
6:05pm - Interstate 65 - The first major snag of the weekend. Just past 465 on the northwest side of Indy we hit a traffic backup. There appears to be no reason for this other than being frightened by rain.
6:48pm - Lebanon, IN - It took us over an hour to go what normally takes 15 minutes. Fortunately, the folk at Subway will get us on our way.
7:23 - Lafayette, IN - We pass God's country as we nearly met Him. Between tons of cars, tracks weaving across the highway in the wind, and a steady rain I swear I have now lost five years off my life. As Denis Leary would say, at least it is the adult diaper wearing years at the end.
8:32pm - Hobart, IN - Better weather prevails north of Lafayette, but nothing humorous along the way. Maybe I have done this drive to Chicago too many times. Time for a stop at Jamba Juice and their Pumpkin Smash. For the uninitiated, Jamba Juice is fantastic, but the one in the Merrillville area is the nearest one to Indianapolis. Just another reason living in Indy sucks.
9:17pm - southside of Chicago, IL - I can't remember where along I-94, but I remember seeing a billboard for a strip club that promised all-bare models. How many girls from the Hoosier state flock across the border to flee the oppression of pasties and G-strings? Is it really that much of an issue in strip clubs?
10:40pm - Outside Rockford, IL - One of the most dull drives I have ever done just keeps going on. There is NOTHING along I-90 west of Chicago. I question if this travel journal is worth it. At least Mrs. T-Mill is getting caught up on The Lost Symbol. It is coffee and pretzel time from the toll oasis.
11:51pm - Madison, WI - Finally, we are there. The hotel of choice the fabulous Crowne Plaza East on Madison's east-side. God bless the good folks at Hotwire.com for letting us essentially thieve the room for $57.
12:01am - We park after checking in. A strange guy ina Wisconsin Badger hat comes running up spinning a story about needing gas money. Among the highlights (all said in 30 seconds):
- Are you Purdue fans staying the night (seeing my hat)?
- I have all kinds of collateral in my truck
- I'm calling my ex-wife and she is selling her wedding ring
- I'll wire you the money, I just need to go about 140 miles.
- Believe in Western Union
This, people, is why I rarely carry cash. We back away slowly and flee into the hotel.
12:49am - Time for bed. Just before signing off I see that Charles Torwudzo had a big 6-yard touchdown in Brownsburg's 20-14 win over Zionsville. Sweet!
8:09am Saturday - Going 1 for 1 with the Jamba stop in terms of having food from good places not in Indy, I hope to keep things rolling by finding a Buregger's Bagels for breakfast...
8:11am - and fail. Neither of the two in Madison are near the hotel. BLAST!
9:17am - Panera Bread will have to do
10:16am - I run into a few more Purdue fans leaving the hotel, leading to this exchange:
Fan: Are we gonna kick some butt oday?
Me: I sure hope so. It has to be better than when I went to Michigan two years ago.
This, my friends, is what we call a bad omen.
10:44am - We pass the infamous State Street on the way into campus. Just a fantastic bar scene. Even without a breakfast club going on I can tell it is great.
10:53am - As we park, we get warned we must leave by 3pm or they will tow all cars left because of the hockey game. I ask if they have leniency in case the game goes long. They say they think so. I am not encouraged, but what can you do. (Little did we know, time would certainly not be an issue)
11:39am - After another Subway stop on the walk to the stadium I figure out how to save lunch for halftime. I manage to stuff an entire footlong sub down the sleeve of my jacket and walk into Camp Randall Stadium undetected. I tell Mrs. T-Mill I should have done it in the pants and, if they asked questions, replied with, "Don't act like you're not impressed."
11:43am - No wonder everyone likes Camp Randall after seeing this sign inside:
11:51am - I am seated with fans that don't lament being there. They actually cheer and want to watch football. I will like these people over the next three hours.
11:56am - Mental note: It's On Wisconsin = bad, not Onward Kokomo = good today. Don't enjoy the fight song. The U2 Streets Have No Name entrance is very nice. Camp Randall also has the best sound guy in the Big Ten, though their band is conspicuously quiet when not wandering through the stands. (All times will now be in game time)
15:00 1st Quarter - Carson Wiggs bombs the kickoff deep for a touchback. Little did we know, this would be the highlight of the game, and the only play involving Wiggs. Does this make him team MVP?
11:40 1st Quarter - We are refusing to adjust to the run. All they are doing is handing off to Clay and we can't tackle him.
9:27 1st Quarter - Touchdown. 11 plays, 80 yards. All of it on the ground. They shouldn't attempt a pass until we prove we can stop them. Which way is State Street again?
7:26 1st Quarter - Welcome back, turnovers. We've missed you
7:13 1st Quarter - It's overturned and ruled an incompletion as Keith Smith never had possession (the first of many drops). A great Summers punt pins them inside the five.
6:23 1st Quarter - The Wisconsin students begin chanting "Eat Shit, Fuck You." Classy! I don't want to hear a single Purdue alum ever gripe about 1,2,3,4, FIRST DOWN, BITCH again.
5:22 1st Quarter - The defense holds, we get great field position, and do nothing with it.
3:02 1st Quarter - The PA seems to be stuck on repeat. All I am hearing is, "John Clay on the carry."
14:23 2nd Quarter - Random observation here: has Ralph Bolden become too patient? He seems to want to make an extra move now he doesn't need to make instead of just attacking.
10:37 2nd Quarter - We go for it on 4th down around the 30 on our best drive of the day. We fail, plus Aaron Valentin gets a 15 yard penalty for spiking the ball. Good job!
10:08 2nd Quarter - Defend the sweep!
6:58 2nd Quarter - That pick was just like the one Walter Thurmond took to the house at Oregon. Ugh.
5:02 2nd Quarter - And Clay makes us pay. That's -7 points the offense has generated.
4:39 2nd Quarter - The good: we try to get the ball in McBurse's hands. The bad: he doesn't want it with three drops (though the first two passes were bad)
4:30 2nd Quarter - Game over with the blocked punt for TD. This was the worst four play sequence of the day. Even if McBurse had caught the first down pass he gets lit up for a four yard loss. The block is not on Chris Summers. Why do we run that 3-man protection when it invites a more persistent rush? Our own guy vaulted the defender up to block it!
0:02 2nd Quarter - Give us the ball around the 25 with seconds to go in the first half and we are great. We misuse a timeout, eschewing it for a hurry up which costs us a few seconds (and at least one play). Elliott gets a WTF for not even throwing the Hail Mary.
Halftime - Props to the random guy in a white suit tossing peanuts at passersby on the concourse, encouraging them to catch with their mouths. Is this the Show N' Blow guy? Our best offense is officially ATM on kick returns.
14:38 3rd Quarter - Catch the ball!
14:14 3rd Quarter - "Another friggin' sweep!" The woman behinds me bursts out in laughter.
13:19 3rd Quarter - All they are running is sweeps and draws. It's nothing fancy, and we look stupid. They overpowered us on the first drive and we never rose to the challenge.
12:04 3rd Quarter - Another poor throw on third down. Another 3 and out. Joey Elliott regressed today, but he did have a ton of dropped passes that were on the mark.
10:39 3rd Quarter - I am now officially staying just for Jump Around. It has gotten that bad.
8:26 3rd Quarter - Is it now time for TerBush after another three and out? We can't even keep the clock running to mercifully end this.
6:01 3rd Quarter - Still Elliott? Really? I mean I like the guy, but he can do no more today. I don't think it is his fault, either.
5:21 3rd Quarter - This is how bad it was all day. They were manhandling us with the defensive front four. Those guys were getting pressure and stopping us any time we tried to run. That let the other guys step back in coverage, so no one was ever open. It's easy to play defense when your defensive line has a fantastic game like Wisconsin's did.
2:53 3rd Quarter - You know you are sucking when the other team puts in their backup QB in the third quarter.
1:15 3rd Quarter - ATM fumbles on another busted run. It is now a total disaster.
End 3rd Quarter - Finally, Jump Around. For those of you who have never seen it in person, it is very impressive. Just a great tradition and I was very glad to see it. I even did some jumping myself in section DD. This just added to the atmosphere, as this is the most lively crowd I have ever experienced at a football game. These guys come to support their team and have fun doing it. Some Purdue fans could learn a lesson from them.
14:33 4th Quarter - Wisconsin shows no mercy by going for it on 4th and short up 34-0. I'm done. I bid farewell to the section and thank them for being great hosts. On the way out of the stadium I simply text Boilerdowd, "No mas" as the last field goal sails through the uprights. His response: "I left the house."
That's about right.
4:35pm - One final note after experiencing Madison a little more and getting some excellent coffee from Coffeebytes. We pick up a local microbrew, Ouisconsing Red Ale from Central Water's Brewing Company. "At least we'll get something good out of this trip," says Mrs. T-Mill.
I also got a call on the way home from Drew of the Big Ten Football Tour. He is wondering what the hell happened, as today was their Wisconsin day. He picked Purdue to win and had become a big fan after their visit two weeks ago. He does thank me and all Purdue fans for a wonderful experience last week. The discussion of beers in Indy after the Pacer game next Friday is raised. This must happen.
To sum things up, this was our worst effort on the season. We need to forget about it, never watch the tape again, and get ready for Michigan. The Wolverines got pantsed by Illinois today, so if we're ever going to win in Ann Arbor now is the time.