MADISON — The crowd erupted in thunderous cheers when quarterback John Stocco scored his game-winning touchdown with 24 seconds left.
Wisconsin 23, Michigan 20.
All Wisconsin needed to do Saturday night was stop Michigan to defeat the Wolverines for the first time in 11 years.
The fans knew this. The electric night atmosphere only intensified as the clock ticked down.
An incomplete pass. The cheers only grow louder.
Henne drops back with 12 seconds left. Another incomplete pass, plus a holding penalty. The cheers become almost deafening. Audio file
Another incomplete pass.
Now, one second left: Audio file
Henne slips and falls to the turf, 14 yards behind the line of scrimmage. A team sack. Game over. The announcer booms: Wisconsin 23 . . . Michigan 20. The fans know the score. They do not need the announcer's reminder. But they love it. The cheers of most of the 83,022 in attendance are so loud that the announcer's voice is barely audible.
Not that it matters. Unlike at the last big night game, when the Badgers upset third-ranked Ohio State in 2003, the fans did not storm the field to celebrate. Instead, it was the Fifth Quarter UW marching band performance as usual. The common, if more jubilant, end to an extraordinary game for the Badgers.
"I think that was probably the most unbelievable atmosphere I've ever been in in my life," Stocco said following the game. "Just everything. The fans were unbelievable, it was so loud in there, I couldn't believe how loud it was."
To senior fullback Matt Bernstein, who watched the Badgers lose to Michigan while redshirting as a true freshman, and lost to the Wolverines as a redshirt freshman, the fan atmosphere in the win bested that of Ohio State two years ago.
"I think it was even better tonight," Bernstein said. "I think it was unbelievable tonight, how crazy . . . It was fantastic. I can't believe how crazy everyone is. . . You cannot say more. Our fans are the best fans in the world."
"The crowd was crazy," senior will linebacker Dontez Sanders said. "The crowd was so loud. Our team just fought. I can't really say how much our team just fought and played so hard."
Senior cornerback Brett Bell said he was tired and sore and "all smiles" once he knew Wisconsin would win. "That was the best game that I think I've ever been a part of," he said.
Bernstein said 25-30 members of his family came in from New York to watch the game, making the night more enjoyable for him. His best friend, a Michigan alum, was also in the stands, wearing Bernstein's jersey.
"I'm just ecstatic and I can't wait to be out with all my friends," Bernstein said.