The Badgers’ 1942 schedule was posted on the Camp Randall
wall. When the boys arrived back from Purdue, the handwritten addendum
the margin next to the upcoming Ohio State game jumped out at all of
It was one word.
If the Badgers were going to be bona
fide threats to win the league championship
for the first time since 1912, they MUST beat the vaunted Buckeyes.
Harry Stuhldreher never spelled it out, but the Badgers understood that
he didn’t like
Paul Brown, and they inferred it involved resentment over how
Brown had usurped Stuhldreher’s title
as the favorite football son of Massillon,
When Brown was a kid in
Massillon, he had heard of Knute Rockne,
but his hero was a contemporary—local high school star Harry
What Rockne was to Stuhldreher, Stuhldreher was to Brown. Brown was
at Massillon High when Stuhldreher was one of the Four Horsemen
at Notre Dame. While Stuhldreher was at
Villanova and then Wisconsin,
Brown coached Massillon for eight seasons, winning six consecutive
state championships. He stepped directly into the Ohio State head-coaching
in addition to the Notre Dame position, would have been
Stuhldreher’s dream job—in 1941. In
Brown’s inaugural season, Ohio State
whipped Wisconsin 46–34.
Publicly, Brown and Stuhldreher were respectful of each other. Actually,
the Badgers knew Stuhldreher couldn’t
stand Brown—and, without knowing,
they assumed the feeling was mutual. Discovering that your hometown
hero, the Four Horseman quarterback, believes you stumbled into a great job
and gives you
the cold shoulder, well, that could be disillusioning.
Fred Negus, the sophomore center, was the only Badger
starter from Ohio,
and he told his teammates how much he wanted to beat the team from his
home state. His parents were coming to Madison to watch him play collegiately
for the first time. He still
was trying to convince his mother, raised
as a Quaker, that football wasn’t evil incarnate. “My
mother brought up that
she didn’t want me to hurt anyone,” he recalled.
Stuhldreher was late for the Monday practice after making a noon speech
to a Chicago organization, the
Wailing Wall. The players didn’t have the
nerve to greet their tardy coach with a “Take Five!”
order to run laps.
At the practice, Stuhldreher named Dave Schreiner the game captain for
second time in the season. That night, Schreiner received a telegram at
the fraternity house from the girls
at Ann Emery Hall [where he worked in
CONGRATULATIONS WITH YOU AS OUR CAPTAIN WE’RE
OF OUR GOAL.
Schreiner also gently lectured his parents again in a letter that he couldn’t
be expected to line up tickets for everyone in Lancaster who wanted to go to
★ ★ ★
28 (AP)—American and Japanese warships boiled
through the southwest Pacific in a titanic slugging
match for control of
the bomb-scarred Guadalcanal airfield Wednesday while on the island
land forces were locked in mortal combat.
In the epic land battle on the north shore of Guadalcanal,
forces broke through the American south flank during the night of Oct.
but were thrown back by army troops who regained their temporarily
lost positions. On the west flank, held
by Marines against a smashing
series of attacks that have been underway since last Friday, the Navy
reported the enemy was forced to give ground in “heavy fighting.”
★ ★ ★
In the new Associated Press weekly poll,
the Badgers were sixth behind
Ohio State, Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame, and Georgia Tech. In Columbus,
Paul Brown told writers the rankings were “generally classified as a silly
type of thing
by the men who play the game and know the score.”
Indeed, the concept was absurd. Even
if some of them were sober, how
could writers from all corners of the country evaluate various teams, some—
or most—of which they never had seen play? Caveat emptor.
The top-rated Buckeyes had a host of stars, including end Dante Lavelli,
George Lynn, halfbacks Paul Sarringhaus and Les Horvath, and
fullback Gene Fekete.
To preview the game, Stuhldreher consented to an interview with Lew
Bryer of the Columbus Citizen. He tried to upstage Paul Brown in Columbus,
and Bryer’s story was reprinted in the Wisconsin State Journal.
“I keep picturing the boys who are playing for me as they may be a year
from now, battling a Jap or a Nazi with a bayonet,” Stuhldreher said. “We’ve
wanted our players tough. Now we want them tougher than ever.
There’s a real parallel between football
and modern warfare. And don’t think
the boys themselves don’t realize it. There’s a different
attitude this fall over
anything I’ve seen either as a player or coach. The boys are preparing themselves
not only for the games to come, but for their future in the armed services.
are fired by what the Rangers and Commandos are
doing to outsmart and outgut the enemy. Eventually the
present day football
players will go a long way in helping to win this war.”
We coaches don't like to be asked: “How many
boys will you lose
to the armed forces?” We don’t lose them. We contribute
Teamwork is an absolute essential in football. It’s just as essential
in warfare. The fighter planes which clear the air for the bombers,
the preparatory barrages from the artillery before an attack,
the big tanks
which open paths through the barbed wire entanglements—
they’re the blockers
out in front of the ballcarrier. The
ballcarrier couldn’t function without
his blockers in war any more
than he could in football.
The sort of war we’re fighting nowadays puts a burden on stamina.
You can’t get stamina out of a book. The sort of conditioning
which Rock used to give us at Notre Dame, the sort which
Paul Brown gives Ohio State
players and the sort I try to give my
boys is what it takes. It used to be well worthwhile
just from a
standpoint of preparing a youngster for the field of battle of life.
It’s much more worthwhile now in preparing a youngster for the
big battle he may be in within the next year.
Some of my friends
feel that it seems brutal to be preparing
young men for war. It doesn’t seem
brutal to me. It seems the
opposite. We’re in it. They’ll be in it soon.
All of us may be in
it before it’s over. I like to think I’m improving
my chances of
my boys coming through it through
what they’re getting on the
football field, the stamina, teamwork, coordination which goes to
make a good football player also goes to make a good soldier.
One of my big regrets is that we can’t have the whole student
body taking the
training we give our football squad. It would
improve their chances, too.
The campus was in a celebratory
mode, with the Homecoming festivities—
Friday pep rally, Saturday game and dance—on Halloween weekend.
remarks were another reminder that this was part of the last
hurrah for the men on campus, players and
★ ★ ★
The Buckeyes left Columbus Thursday, switching
trains in Chicago and
stopping in Janesville, Wisconsin, for the night. On Friday, they checked
the Park Hotel downtown. Some players went to a movie, while others
remained at the hotel.
Meanwhile, at the Friday night pep rally on the lower campus, attended
by about eight thousand, Roundy
Coughlin gave his usual fire-’em-up
speech, and Stuhldreher and Dave Schreiner thanked the fans for
before the team, as was the game-eve custom, headed off to spend the
at the Maple Bluff Country Club.
The “fun” was just getting started.
The next morning’s Daily Cardinal
(a rare student newspaper
with a Saturday
reported that a disturbance in downtown Madison was ongoing
at press time and had started “within
10 minutes after the close of the pep
The number involved
and the extent of the rowdiness would be debated
for days. The student paper put the number of those in
the mob at four thousand,
and the State Journal ’s
estimate was five thousand. The Daily Cardinal
said the event involved “students . . . marching down State Street,
traffic, rocking cars and trampling everything in their path.” The State Journal
labeled it a “three-hour near-riot,” then
erased the “near” over the next
The Daily Cardinal ’s account was more detailed than those in the “regular”
newspapers. It reported the
mob went back and forth between campus
and the Capitol Square, breaking windows on State Street businesses
rocking—but apparently not turning over—cars. The worst incident took
in front of the Orpheum Theater, where police officers were pelted
with water and eggs. The cops responded
by spraying tear gas into the crowd.
Wind carried the tear gas right back at the policemen, and they scrambled
into the theater, giving the impression they were retreating in the face of
the mob. Other
officers at the epicenter of the action, at State and Johnson
Streets, claimed they were targets of thrown
glass and debris. They used tear
gas and fire hoses to defend themselves. Students later claimed that water
broke some of the windows.
Some of the Buckeyes got caught up in the mess, even
breathing in tear
gas before making it back to their hotel. “We were right by the capitol building,
and instead of getting a good night’s rest, we were kept up all night by
on our doors and things like that,” recalled Fekete, the Buckeyes’
star fullback. “The
Some of the Buckeyes would have been awake, anyway, because they
fighting dysentery and racing their roommates to the toilets.
made thirty-two arrests that night, and most of the miscreants had
headaches as they appeared before Superior
Court Judge Roy Proctor the
next morning—about when the Buckeyes were eating breakfast at the Park
Hotel. Bails were set from two to fifteen dollars. Many of the arrests involved
had left taverns carrying beer glasses or bottles and then thrown
The judge got everyone through his court in time for him to go to the
★ ★ ★
UW freshman Tom
Butler, a journalism student and sports fan, was typical
of the Madison students the next morning. He approached
Stadium from the north, walking across the baseball and practice fields,
at the good weather, and feeling the excitement about the upcoming
game and enmity for the Buckeyes. The
UW had a lot of rivals. Notre
Dame and Ohio State were at the top of Stuhldreher’s list. To the students,
the most hated rivals were Minnesota and Ohio State. “We hated Ohio State
with a passion,”
Butler recalled. But the Buckeyes were on both lists, and that
also increased the players’ intensity
The Ohio State party arrived at the stadium about ninety minutes before
and the Buckeyes walked around the field before going to the locker
room. Gene Fekete, giving Pat Harder
a run for his money as the league’s
best fullback, noticed the huge spools of telephone wires on
near the goal line. According to the next
Times, he pointedly
asked a worker if the spools
were kept that close to the sideline during the
game. “They’d better not,” Fekete said.
“I’ll be down here quite a bit.” Fekete
disputed that report, and it seems likely that the Capital Times reporter either
believed, or didn’t care to check, an unreliable second-hand story
For two bits, fans could treat themselves to the game program before the
showdown for the Big Ten lead.
along from someone on the field. Regardless, the report and Fekete’s alleged
remarks got widespread play after the fact.
The Badgers had been on the field loosening up for nearly a half-hour
when some Buckeyes emerged from the
locker room. None of them were
starters. Fekete and his fellow first-stringers finally took the field at
p.m., or only eight minutes before the scheduled kickoff. The Badgers considered
insulting, but it wasn’t intended to be. Some of the Buckeyes still
were struggling with dysentery,
and Ohio State’s coaching staff put out the
word that it must have had something to do with the Madison
was tired and worn out,” recalled Charles Csuri, the Buckeyes’ standout
tackle. “There wasn’t any question that dysentery affected our squad.” Years
Csuri remained curious whether the outbreak was caused by something
the Buckeyes ate or drank before they
left Columbus, during the trip, or after
they arrived in Madison.
wasn’t sure, either, but he was adamant that many of the Buckeyes
were having to make repeated trips
to the toilet. “We had dinner on Friday
night in Madison, and maybe we’re not used to that
real rich Wisconsin
Dairyland food,” he said years later, laughing. “Whether it was that or
water on the train, that Saturday morning, I would say most of the team had
Early-arriving fans got to see the 150-member marching band parade into
with the Navy men from the radio communications school and
the WAVES in formation behind them. Men from
the Army Air Forces technical
school also sat together in one section.
College crowds everywhere were beginning to look like those traditionally
at Army-Navy games.
★ ★ ★
London, Oct. 31
(AP)—Fifty German bombers smashed with bombs
and machine guns at southeastern England Saturday in
the biggest Nazi
attack since the 1940 Battle of Britain, concentrating their assault on
streets at Canterbury, where Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt
was a visitor only Friday. Roaring in at dusk,
the raiders dropped
bombs in haphazard fashion and machine-gunned a working class area
then a shopping street.
★ ★ ★
The game was
still scoreless when the Badgers began their third possession
from the Wisconsin
20. On the first play, Elroy Hirsch took the snap
and started to his right.
Pat Harder escorted him, focusing on Ohio State
star George Lynn. Harder leveled
Lynn, and Hirsch hurdled them both and
was in the open field. Looking at a
picture of that play years later, Hirsch
laughed. “It’s amazing
what fear can do,” he said.
With the help of other blocks
from Bob Hanzlik and Bob Baumann,
Hirsch made it to the Ohio State 21 for
a 59-yard gain before Buckeye
Tommy James pulled him down. The State Journal ’s Willard R. Smith said
that play Hirsch ran “like a scared jackrabbit on the desert with only sagebrush
cactus to hinder him.” (“Jackrabbit” Hirsch didn’t catch on.)
The scribes noticed that Otto Hirsch, Elroy’s father, was sitting in front
the press box, and they watched his reaction to the plays on the field,
Elroy’s runs. They noted that Otto missed the start of the long run
he was retrieving a feather that had blown out of his hat. After the
he hollered to his son, “You should have gone all the way!”
Elroy Hirsch (40) is about to take advantage of a crushing block from Pat Harder
(34) and break into the open field for the long gain that set up the Badgers’ first
touchdown against Ohio State.
A few plays later, Harder scored from the 1. Hirsch pulled Harder out of
that pile and hugged the rugged fullback. If you needed
a yard, you gave the
ball to Harder, and none of the Badgers begrudged that. Harder’s extra point
gave the Badgers a 7–0 lead with 13:36 left in the first half.
sealing one side, the Buckeyes couldn’t move against the
Badgers. Wisconsin threatened to get the
lead to two touchdowns, but the
Buckeyes managed to bat down a Hirsch pass intended for Schreiner on the
goal line, and the Badgers settled for a 37-yard Harder field goal to make it
That’s the way it stood at the half.
Thirty more minutes, the Badgers told themselves—and each other—in the
On the field, the Homecoming
festivities were altered for the times. At
one point, part of the band started to spell out OHIO, mimicking
State band’s famous maneuver, and the stunned Wisconsin fans booed. Long
those band members could get to the conclusion, the dotting of the
“I,” the rest of the band
formed a tank, “ran over” the Ohio formation, and
“flattened” it. The crowd laughed
The halftime program was a tribute to former Wisconsin students and
serving in the military, and representatives of the Marines, Army,
and Navy made speeches. After each one,
the band played the appropriate
song—“The Marine’s Hymn,” “Anchors Aweigh,”
or “You’re in the Army
The Marine representative
was Lieutenant Colonel Chester L. Fordney,
chief of the Central Recruiting District. “Wisconsin’s
men are fighting men,”
he told the crowd and the international radio audience that included U.S.
troops around the world. “They are demonstrating that on the football field
Wisconsin men also are serving from the Halls of Montezuma to
the shores of Tripoli.”
He probably knew that many of the Badgers had signed up for the Marine
As the halftime intermission ended, a group of Wisconsin fans turned to
the broadcast booth in the press
box and taunted NBC’s Bill Stern, who on
the radio earlier in the week had picked Ohio State to win.
But the game was far from over.
★ ★ ★
On their second possession of the second
half, the Buckeyes marched 96
yards for the touchdown that got them within 3 points. Fekete scored the
touchdown on a 4-yard plunge, and the Badgers were served notice that
weren’t going to fold.
Hirsch and Schreiner put it away, though—through the air.
Schreiner for 12 yards to get the Badgers within striking distance. Then,
the Buckeye 14, Hirsch faked a run to the right and got off a floater for
Schreiner, who had a couple of
steps on the Buckeye defenders near the goal
line. Recalled the other end, Bob Hanzlik: “Dave bobbled
the ball, he was all
by himself and almost dropped it, but—and this was typical Schreiner—he
overcame it.” Drawing in the ball, Schreiner was snowed under. But he was
over the goal
The Harder conversion kick made it 17–7. A Hirsch interception ended
last Ohio State threat, and bedlam broke loose at the final gun.
The Badgers’ stars shone, beginning
with Hirsch’s 118 yards on only 13
carries. His Ohio State counterpart, Paul Sarringhaus, had 55
yards on the
same number of attempts. And Harder won the battle of fullbacks, outgaining
97–65. Schreiner again was the hero defensively, and the Badger
coaches later determined from film
study that the Buckeyes had gained only
4 yards around his end. When the Badgers were on defense, he was
against Ohio State sophomore tackle Bill Willis, who went on to be an
in 1943 and 1944. “The guy he was going against was an All-
American, and Dave put him on his butt,”
recalled Erv Kissling, the reserve
halfback, who watched from the sideline.
With their first victory over Ohio State since 1918, the Badgers were on
top of the world—and on
track to win their first conference title in thirty
had beaten the nation’s number-one-rated team, but there
was so little emphasis on such imaginary
malarkey, most of the fans knew
neither of the poll nor the rankings. More important to Wisconsin fans,
Badgers had taken control of the Big Ten Conference race. After that day’s
the Badgers were the only undefeated team in conference play, at
2–0. Ohio State was 3–1, and
Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, and Michigan were
2–1. As long as the Badgers kept winning, they wouldn’t
have to worry about
playing one less conference game than the Buckeyes.
In the Wisconsin dressing room, Stuhldreher told the boys how proud he
was but that they needed to keep
it going. Outside, the scribes couldn’t hear
anything but his final line: “Let’s go all
the way!” The boys hollered, and the
Otto Hirsch was
one of the many fathers in the raucous locker room.
Schreiner paraded with the game ball, lifted out of
the pile at the final gun.
An exhausted Harder couldn’t keep his balance and needed help tying his
The State Journal talked
with Schreiner for a sidebar story. “I don’t believe
we could have won if it hadn’t been for coordinated teamwork,”
was quoted as saying. “This was distinctly a team victory, and that’s the way
games should be won. And, boy, I was nervous on that perfect touchdown
pass from Elroy Hirsch.”
The sign on the locker room chalkboard, scribbled by manager Eugene
announced: “Seven down, three to go.”
Stuhldreher went to the visiting dressing
room, but the door still was
closed. He briefly waited outside with reporters. Paul Brown emerged, spotted
and shook his hand, with the Columbus
among others, watching closely
enough to reproduce the conversation in
print the next morning.
Harry,” Brown said. “You had the best ball team—today
Responded Stuhldreher, “Thanks, Paul. Sorry it had to be this way.”
sounded as if he meant it.
The Badgers’ stars celebrate the team’s victory over Ohio State with their coach.
Mark Hoskins, Dave Schreiner, Pat Harder, and Elroy Hirsch get giddy with Harry
At first, as he spoke with reporters, Brown was angry and terse. The Capital
Times said he greeted reporters with: “I’ll give you a statement. Quote: Wisconsin
ballgame. Congratulations. Unquote.” But then he added,
a good ballclub.”
Brown was more philosophical a few minutes later
when he talked with
Columbus reporters in the dressing room. “You can’t
take anything away
from Wisconsin,” he said, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
a great football team and we have an ordinary one. Today they were better
than we were. They were inspired and they had the whole crowd cheering
Brown said a loss removed some of the pressure. “I
had no dreams. I kept
saying it would come sooner or later. It just wasn’t
to be. From the time we
left home, even in practice things have been funny. Everything
to do us wrong. And this transportation problem and staying in the
the town where the game is being played didn’t help us either.”
The game would become known in Ohio State’s annals as “The Bad Water
After the word filtered back
to Madison that Brown later said the Buckeyes
were weakened because of dysentery
and blamed the “bad” water in
Madison, the Badgers scoffed. Years later,
the Badgers still considered that
“Brown was complaining that there was so much noise they couldn’t sleep,
that was a lot of B.S.,” recalled reserve tackle Jack Crabb. “We just beat
shit out of them.”
Csuri, the Ohio State tackle, was decisive
when asked if Wisconsin saw the
real Buckeyes on the Camp Randall field. “No,”
Csuri said. “I’m convinced
Looking back sixty years later, Fekete said the most graphic example of the
Buckeyes’ illness that day came on a play on which Les Horvath carried the
ball. “I did a spinner play and handed off to Les,” Fekete said. “Right in front
of our Ohio State bench, about three Wisconsin guys just buried him. He
up real slow and walked over to Coach Brown. He said, ‘Coach, I think I
did something in my pants!’ Paul Brown’s words were, ‘Les, you get back
in there! Better men than you have done something in their pants!’ ”
Bottom line: On the only afternoon when two of the nation’s best 1942
teams were on the field together, Wisconsin was better.
That day, Columbus Dispatch sportswriter Paul Hornung typed away
for his readers. The next morning his story
began: “MADISON, WIS.,
OCT. 31—The honeymoon is over; the ride on the
clouds is ended; we’re
just common folks again, we Buckeyes.”
★ ★ ★
A teenaged Badgers
fan, Nancy Schumacher, had graduated from high
school in Mineral Point the previous June. She put off going
to college for a
year to work in the Chain Belt plant in Milwaukee, where she helped make
for anti-aircraft guns.
A star-struck Nancy kept a scrapbook of the Badgers’ season.
down a newspaper picture of Dave Schreiner sitting between two coeds, she
“PHOOEY” beneath it.
Her father, Art, was a former UW letterman and thus had tickets
50-yard line. Nancy sat in other seats with her mother and planned to join
of her student friends on State Street after the game. But when heavy
rains began, she decided to wait
under the stands and was excited to notice
some of the players passing by.
She began asking them for autographs on her program. Bob Baumann,
the big tackle, smiled and teased Nancy
that it would be only fair if she gave
him her autograph, too. Embarrassed at first, she signed. They talked
the rains let up, and then they went their separate ways, Baumann to meet
fiancée, Arlene Bahr, and Nancy to hook up with friends.
Nancy discovered that a group
of about five hundred fans, most of them
students, were celebrating under the watchful eye of Madison police
who had replenished their tear gas supply and were wondering if the Halloween
might add to the trouble.
“We went uptown and partied at the Park Hotel,” recalled
“Some guys were tipping over the sand-filled cigarette deals, and everyone
snake-dancing up State Street. It was just huge.”
However, the night’s festivities,
including the Homecoming dance, went
(Many of the men
on both teams mentioned here were
World War II heroes,
and not all of them returned alive.
More on Third Down and a War to Go.)