Leave it to a cop to put things into perspective when it comes to Saturday's clash of the titans at Camp Randall Stadium, with the No. 7 Badgers taking on No. 8 Nebraska in the Big Ten season opener.
"It's like a first date — you don't know what to expect," said Madison Police Lt. Dave McCaw.
The police officer wasn't offering a football analysis, but rather was speaking about the match-up between the fan bases, both widely known for following their teams with a special fervor. And that fervor has reached fever-pitch as this year's "game of the century" draws near.
Though the numbers vary, and perhaps tend toward exaggeration — 20,000 Husker fans? 40,000? The entire state of Nebraska? — there is no doubt the Sea of Red from Lincoln and other parts west will make an impact here this weekend.
Here's a thought about the Red vs. Red match-up: Let's try really hard to be gracious hosts and enjoy a classic day of college football without any major incidents, run-ins or unduly nasty interactions.
Do we want to cheer the Badgers to victory and at the same time razz the Huskers about which version of red and white uniform is really superior? Of course we do, and we will. Is part of the fun of college football sharing good-natured ribbing back and forth? Sure it is.
But let's start this newfound Big Ten rivalry — the game will be Nebraska's debut in its new conference — on a positive note. Let's bear in mind this game represents what is really good about college football: two quality programs putting undefeated records on the line in front of many thousands of passionate and involved fans.
And let's also not forget that the invasion of Huskerdom to Madison means, frankly, big bucks for our community. Every hotel room is booked, restaurants will be jammed and Husker Nation will undoubtedly take time Saturday and Sunday to stroll, shop and enjoy themselves in and around our lovely Downtown.
We're all about Bucky doing lots of pushups Saturday (one for each point scored is the tradition) and sending those Cornhuskers back to the grainfields from whence they came. Let's do so with grace and class.