UW Health Sports Medicine 

Badger fans ready for Champs Sports Bowl

The Badgers have spent five days in Orlando preparing for the Champs Sports Bowl, but Monday was all about a final tune-up for the fans.

An impressive contingent of Badgers fans turned out to get set for tomorrow night's game against Miami, joining the UW Marching Band, spirit squads and head coach Bret Bielema for a spirited pep rally at the Pointe Orlando shopping center, site of the Bowl-a-Palooza FanFest.

Miami took the stage first for its portion of the rally -- which lasted eight minutes -- but it was the crowd of Wisconsin fans who stole the show by filling up the area surrounding the Bowl-a-Palooza stage and most of the open space at Point Orlando.

091228FB-3309-PepRally.jpegOnce Mike Leckrone led the band onto its perch on the second level of the outdoor shopping center and the spirit squads surrounded the stage, it was as if The Fifth Quarter had moved south.

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Bielema took the stage and opened the show. "And they think it's cold down here," he said, referring to the chilly early evening air, "I hope it snows tomorrow!"  That drew the first of many cheers from the fans, which Bielema asked that they, "Save up for tomorrow night."

From there it was the band that took center stage, belting out fan favorites like the "Beer Barrel Polka," "Space Badgers" and "Tequila," along with the staples like "Varsity" and, of course, "On, Wisconsin."

091228FB-3303-PepRally.jpegOne of my favorite moments was when five members of the dance team surrounded a boy in a Miami hat and serenaded him as the band played "Hey Baby." It wasn't long before his face matched his red jacket.

The half-hour celebration was a hit with fans, but it also impressed some of the Florida Citrus Sports staff who were helping pump up the crowd. "I'm not supposed to say this," one of the workers told me, "but you guys killed it."