"The Voice" with Matt Lepay

Thumbnail image for the_voiceSM.jpgWhen I started covering Wisconsin athletics in 1988, my first road trip was to Miami. Don Morton's Badgers vs. Jimmy Johnson's University of Miami Hurricanes at the Orange Bowl. One of the trip's highlights was a press box fire that broke out the night before the game.The next day we could still smell the smoke in our radio booth. Back then there were four originating radio outlets calling UW football. I normally worked with Larry Mialik, but he had a commitment that weekend, so I had the chance to work with former coach John Jardine. That too was a highlight.

The game itself? Not many highlights. Miami did what it needed to do and not much else. The final score was 23-3. The next year was even worse. The good news was the Badgers scored first. The bad news was Miami scored the next 51, as Dennis Erickson's Canes routed the Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. In those two seasons, Miami went 22-2, while the Badgers were 3-19.
 
That was the last time the two teams met on the football field. Now, they will meet again in Orlando for the Champs Bowl on December 29. I suppose fans go to bowl games for various reasons. Some will choose to make the trip based mostly on destination, while others decide on a trip if the matchup looks intriguing. As a sports fan, I am excited about this one. Miami is good. Top 15 good. It features an outstanding quarterback in Jacory Harris, and plenty of other extremely gifted athletes. One of those standouts is Thearon Collier, who has returned two punts for touchdowns this year.

While there might be some disappointment at a fourth trip to Orlando in five years, I say this game is a better draw than an Outback Bowl pairing with Auburn. Badgers fans have seen the Tigers twice this decade, and while Auburn played rival Alabama to the wire, the Tigers finished below .500 in SEC play.

There is no such issue with the Hurricanes. Quite simply, a win in Orlando would look considerably more impressive. The trick is getting that accomplished, but I have the feeling this Wisconsin team will be plenty ready to prove that last year's bowl performance is very much the exception to the rule.

Keeping with the football theme, I hope you get a chance to attend Friday night's Wisconsin Football Awards Show at the Kohl Center. The UW is tweaking its normal banquet, making it more of a showbiz type of program, complete with fan voting for play of the year. Fans will hear from Bret Bielema, his assistant coaches and a number of players. The event begins at 7:30, and admission is free. The night should be an enjoyable celebration of Wisconsin Badgers football, and it is a great opportunity for fans of all ages to see their favorite players.

One other thing.  Last week I wondered what the atmosphere would be like at the Kohl Center for the basketball game with Duke. As hoped, the fans delivered in big way. It was electric, and hopefully there will be more of that in near future, say Saturday afternoon?? As soon as we arrived in Honolulu last Thursday, a number of players and coaches asked us about the scene at the end of the game. Yes, football players and coaches follow basketball, and they were very excited for Bo Ryan's squad.
 
All and all, it was another pretty good week to be a Badger fan, wasn't it?
ON WISCONSIN