Moo Over Miami

Wisconsin is known for several things: its large number of dairy cows, its being the birth home of both Laverne and Shirley, and its long memory for football grudges.

On December 27, the Badgers will make their first-ever trip to the Pinstripe Bowl, where they will face the University of Miami. If the orange-and-green U on the Hurricanes’ helmets looks familiar to you, that’s natural. This is the same team that the Badgers played in the Orange Bowl last year.

While the Badgers don’t have a huge history with the Hurricanes, there have been a few memorable showdowns. The UW has played Miami five times, and the Dairy Staters hold a 3–2 record against the Sunshine State team, including bowl-game victories in 2009 and 2017. (For those of you who wonder about the UW’s history with the other Miami — the one in Ohio — the Badgers played them once, beating them 58–0 in 2015.)

So, what do you need to know about this bitter rivalry when it’s renewed for the half-dozenth time later this month?

  • Once it reaches six games, the Badger-Hurricane rivalry will pull into a five-way tie for 25th on the UW’s all-time list of most-frequent opponents. The other schools the UW has played six times are Stanford (4–1–1), Kansas (4–2), Colorado (1–4–1), and California (1–5).
  • Miami’s mascot is named Sebastian, and he’s an American marsh ibis. The bird was chosen for its putative bravery in the face of hurricanes, although the simile “brave as an ibis” has never been said by anyone, ever.
  • Sebastian’s original name was Icky. He was created in 1957, making him eight years younger than Bucky.
  • When the Hurricanes force a turnover, the player who ends up with the ball gets to hold the Turnover Chain, a five-and-a-half-pound string of 10-karat gold links. Its pendant contains 4,000 sapphires in the shape of Sebastian. No. We don’t think it looks gaudy at all.
  • Miami players and fans use their fingers and thumbs to form a U — a gesture that inspired a similar W hand sign among Badger players and fans after the teams met in the Champs Sports Bowl in 2009.
  • At home games, the Hurricanes have a cannon they call Touchdown Tommy, which a fraternity shoots after TDs and victories. It’s only armed with blanks, but in 2013, a man sued the university when he said he’d been injured by cannon fire.
  • The first meeting between the UW and Miami was on September 26, 1958, and the Badgers won 20–0. Scoring a touchdown for the Badgers was George Chryst ’60,MS’68 father of current UW football coach Paul Chryst ’88. He returned an interception to the end zone and so would have earned a turnover chain, if the Badgers gave one out, and if jewelry were his thing.
  • The Badgers’ second game against Miami was less enjoyable for the UW: the Hurricanes won 23–3. Playing tight end for the Badgers that year was Paul Chryst. The game featured six turnovers by Miami, while the Badgers turned the ball over five times. Had each turnover been granted its own chain, that game would have required 33 feet of golden links and 44,000 gemstones.