Blugolds play Badgers

A big-time game against a big-time team in front of a Madison crowd awaited the Blugolds Wednesday night at UW-Madison’s Kohl Center, where the Div. III Blugolds battled the Div. I Badgers in a preseason exhibition game, which they lost 74-35.

While in no way expected to be a close game, Blugold coach Terry Gibbons said he appreciated the unique experience that Wednesday’s match-up offered his players.

“To be able to run out in front of 17,000 people, represent your city, your university against one of the top teams in the nation, what a better gauge to see where you’re at?” Gibbons said in a Nov. 1 interview with The Spectator.

While Wednesday’s match marked the first time Eau Claire has played the Badgers, it is not the first time the Big Ten member has battled a team from the Div. III WIAC.

Madison has played a WIAC team each season since 2004, when Badger coach Bo Ryan hosted and defeated UW-Platteville, according to a UW-Eau Claire athletics press release. The Badgers have since gone on to play UW-River Falls and, most recently, UW-Stout, and has won all three games.

Eau Claire will continue to take on larger competition in the future. Gibbons said Div. I UW-Green Bay is already on the Blugolds’ schedule for next season, and added he hopes to play other Div. I teams farther down the road.

“Shoot big,” Gibbons said. “Go after the big fish and let’s see what we can do and have fun and enjoy the experience.”