Wisconsin Football: Badgers looking to end drought in Evanston


The Wisconsin Badgers football team will travel to Evanston, Illinois this Saturday to take on the Northwestern Wildcats in a pivotal Big Ten West showdown with championship implications on the line.

Both teams still have a shot at a division title and a trip to Indianapolis where they would play for a Big Ten championship. Sitting at two losses, each team trails the division-leading Nebraska Cornhuskers by just one game. The Huskers will visit Columbus Saturday night to take on Ohio State.

In this century so far, the Badgers have won at every Big Ten opponent’s venue except Northwestern. Despite owning the all-time series 57-35-5, Wisconsin’s last victory at Ryan Field came back in 1999, defeating the Wildcats 35-19, in a triumphant Rose Bowl-winning year.

So, what was going on in the world of sports the last time the Badgers won in Evanston?

Well, for starters, the Badgers were led by Heisman running back Ron Dayne who, as previously mentioned, helped the team reach the 1999 Rose Bowl, defeating Stanford 17-9 on New Year’s Day. Wisconsin finished the season ranked fourth in the country, owning a 10-2 record. The team was coached by current athletic director Barry Alvarez and the quarterback calling shots for the team was Big Ten Freshman of the Year Brooks Bollinger.

Today, we are beginning to get used to the new College Football Playoff system. Back in ’99, college football was just in its second year of using the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) system that caused everyone so much angst for many years to come.

The Wisconsin men’s basketball team was piloted by Dick Bennett and was still trying to reach their first Final Four appearance since they won a national title back in 1941. The Badgers’ basketball team has been to three Final Fours since the football team’s last win at Northwestern.

Professional sports in 1999:


  • St. Louis (not Los Angles) Rams quarterback Kurt Warner was named league MVP
  • Tim Couch was the first overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft
  • The Denver Broncos defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 33. We will be experiencing Super Bowl 51 this season
  • The AFC and NFC had just three divisions each.


  • Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez was named American League MVP. Atlanta Braves third basemen Chipper Jones was awarded the honor for the National League. Rodriguez retired in 2012, while Jones called it quits in 2013.
  • The Montreal Expos were still a team.
  • Carlos Beltran won Rookie of the Year. He is 39 years old today


  • The San Antonio Spurs won their first NBA title. Today, they have five.
  • Vince Carter won Rookie of the Year. He is 39 years old today.

The Badgers currently enter Saturday’s meeting with Northwestern as seven point favorites. Wisconsin’s last game in Evanston came in 2014 when the Wildcats were victorious by a score of 20-14. Northwestern currently holds a two-game winning streak in the series.

Nobody said this year’s schedule was going to be a cakewalk, and if the Badgers want to build on their newly honored number eight ranking in the College Football Playoff poll, they will have to end one of the longest droughts in program history.

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