Madison Rides The Great Dayne


Red-clad Wisconsin fans streamed into Camp Randall Stadium or sat with eyes glued to tavern televisions Saturday, watching, waiting and then erupting in cheers when tailback Ron Dayne made college football history.

"Sweet fancy Moses, he did it," said Andy Vebber, a University of Wisconsin graduate from Milwaukee, after Dayne ran 31 yards and broke the major college career rushing record in the second quarter of the Badgers' Big Ten finale against Iowa Saturday.

Vebber and the rest of the crowd at a packed State Street Brats tavern cheered wildly when Wisconsin's 252-pound tailback claimed his place in the record books.

"I have one thing to say... Whooh!" said Scott Aulinskis, a UW graduate from Chicago, who raised his arms in the air in celebration.

Michelle Jameson, a UW graduate who lives in Treasure Island, Fla., made the trip to Madison to see the game if only on TV.

"I'm so excited to be here for this," Jameson said. "I almost cried."

But Badgers fans had more to celebrate than Dayne's heroics Saturday. With a 41-3 win over Iowa, the Badgers clinched the Big Ten title and a second-straight Rose Bowl appearance.

Entering Saturday's Big Ten finale against the Hawkeyes, Dayne needed 99 yards to break the record set last season by Texas' Ricky Williams, who finished his college career with 6,279 yards. Dayne finished with 216 for the day and 6,397 for his regular-season career.

Badgers fans carried signs Saturday that said "Ricky Who?" Another fan wore a football helmet and a jersey and was painted bronze from head to toe to look like a walking Heisman Trophy making his own argument in support of Dayne.

Other fans tried their best to get tickets before the game but they faced steep prices.

Earlier in the week, regular $28 tickets and student tickets in the stadium's end zone, with a $12 face value, were being advertised for as much as $300 each. On game day, tickets went for up to $110, one seller said.

"A lot of hysteria, a lot of excitement, and that's good but no tickets," said Duane Stein of Milwaukee, who was hoping prices would drop after kickoff.

Paul Georgia didn't take any chances. He and three friends paid $700 for four seats and made the trip from Green Bay with the tickets safely in their pockets. Georgia also shelled out $50 Saturday for a No. 33 jersey Dayne's number.

"Last week when he got to 221 (yards against Purdue), we knew he was going to get it," Georgia said of Dayne.

Dayne jerseys were hot items in Madison, as sports shops on State Street saw their stocks dwindle as the morning went on.

"They've been flying pretty quick," said Cory Greenfield, a University of Wisconsin senior working outside Wisconsin Active Sportswear. The store got 1,000 Dayne jerseys at the start o the season, and six were left hanging on a rack on the sidewalk an hour before the game.

Iowa fans brave enough to show their true colors were taunted on the way into the game. However, even a Hawkeyes fan could see it was a special day in Wisconsin.

"It's really tremendous to be here," said Ted Crawford of Mason City Iowa, who stuck out in his Iowa sweatshirt.

The hysteria was nothing new to football fans in a state famous for the Green Bay Packers and Lambeau Field. One fan, Christine Davies of Janesville, had some ideas for Dayne's future. She carried a sign that said "Green Bay needs Great Dayne" referring to Wisconsin's NFL team, which has lost two straight games and is struggling at 4-4.

"He could make them better," Davies said.

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