Bad blood spilling between Buckeyes, Badgers
MADISON, Wis. -- The bad blood is boiling between Ohio State and Wisconsin, college football's newest enemies.
A sign of how bad things have gotten between the budding rivals is this: What began as a joke between friends has become a subplot in Saturday's game between the fourth-ranked Buckeyes and the Badgers, who fell out of the Top 25 this week.
Ohio State players are upset that Badgers quarterback Brooks Bollinger allegedly signed an autograph to a fan about the Badgers owning the Horseshoe, the nickname for Ohio Stadium, where Wisconsin has won two straight.
Although Bollinger said he doesn't even remember signing the photo, Ohio State linebacker Matt Wilhelm said it helped ''fuel the fire'' for the game at Camp Randall Stadium.
With the visiting team winning the last three games in the series, victorious players have danced on the opposing team's emblem at midfield, a tradition Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel would like to eliminate.
''I heard it talked about a little bit and I really didn't know what they were talking about a year ago,'' Tressel said. ''Our feeling about celebration, whether it's after a touchdown or after a big win or whatever it happens to be, that celebration has got to be contained within those who are celebrating and in no way, shape or form should it be pointed toward another direction, whether it was the defense you scored on or the guy you sacked, whatever it happens to be.
''From a conceptual standpoint, I think our celebration has got to be positive.''
That's fine with Buckeyes offensive tackle Shane Olivea.
''We're going to go up there to win a game, not dance on a logo,'' Olivea said. ''We'll do the dancing when we get back to Columbus.''
The ruckus all started in 1999 following Wisconsin's 42-17 victory at Columbus when several Badgers danced on the ''O'' in the middle of the field.
The Buckeyes got their revenge in 2000 by dancing on the ''W'' at midfield after their 23-7 victory at Camp Randall Stadium.
And the Badgers returned the favor last year by celebrating their 20-17 victory over the Buckeyes -- their second straight comeback from a 17-0 deficit at the Horseshoe -- by jumping up and down at midfield.
Bollinger's signature was the latest twist of bulletin board fodder, if not downright hostility between the two smashmouth football teams.
''I'm not a man of hate,'' Buckeyes cornerback Dustin Fox said. ''But I don't think there's a whole lot of good blood between us.''
Still, both teams have other motivations Saturday.
Ohio State has its sights on the Big Ten title -- the Buckeyes don't face conference leader Iowa this season -- and also are in the running for the national championship.
But the Buckeyes know they have to play better on the road after barely edging Cincinnati, 23-19, and Northwestern, 27-16, away from home.
The Badgers (5-2, 0-2) have lost two straight three-point games, including a 32-29 loss at Indiana last week, when they surrendered 22 unanswered points in the final 16 minutes.
''You're going to come out a little bit more excited for these types of games,'' Badgers defensive lineman Darius Jones said. ''We get to come back and show the fourth quarter wasn't really the Wisconsin defense.''