GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The beer and brats were flowing at Lambeau Field, as a decidedly pro-Wisconsin crowd continued the parking lot party that began hours earlier. After watching the Badgers fall short the past two years, this was the moment for fans to celebrate their team finally producing a worthy season-opening performance on the big stage.
For the LSU fans that made the long trek up north, they could only scratch their heads about what could have been.
In a game that required every bit of Wisconsin's fortitude, the Badgers came back to fend off No. 5 LSU, 16-14, Saturday afternoon in the Lambeau College Classic. Badgers kicker Rafael Gaglianone gave Wisconsin the lead, and defensive back D'Cota Dixon's interception sealed the victory in the final minute.
Wisconsin secured its most significant nonconference regular-season victory since 1974, when the team upset fourth-ranked Nebraska 21-20 at Camp Randall Stadium. On Saturday, the Badgers began the game more physically dominant and more prepared. By halftime, they had run twice as many plays and gained nearly three times as many yards. And when Badgers running back Corey Clement scored a 5-yard third-quarter touchdown, Wisconsin held a 13-0 lead and appeared on its way to a convincing win.
In the span of 87 seconds, however, LSU scored two touchdowns off two Wisconsin turnovers and appeared ready to break through. But the Tigers' offense sputtered when it mattered most.
For LSU, which entered the game as double-digit favorites, the loss represented a potentially devastating blow to the Tigers' national championship aspirations. LSU opened the season with a Heisman Trophy favorite in tailback Leonard Fournette and a defense stacked with NFL talent. LSU may well work its way back into the title picture, given the difficult SEC schedule it plays. But there will be questions one season after head coach Les Miles' job was saved late in the year.
Two years ago, Wisconsin blew a 17-point lead against LSU in the season opener, falling 28-24. Last year, Wisconsin lost 35-17 to eventual national champion Alabama. But this time around, the Badgers had their day, as players took part in a postgame Lambeau Leap to cap off the victory.
That meant Wisconsin fans who brought the party to Green Bay were sure to carry on the festivities long into the night.