Bowl games are a staple of the college football landscape, and now the opportunity to experience one has been extended to local Division III players.
One squad from the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference will meet another from the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin in the Culver’s Isthmus Bowl this November in Verona. The two leagues announced the creation of the bowl game on Monday.
The two teams selected to play in the game will be dependent upon the NCAA playoff field. The highest-placing team to not reach the NCAA tournament in each conference will play in the bowl game.
“We are excited for the opportunity of a bowl game,” UW-Eau Claire coach Wesley Beschorner said in a press release. “It provides another day for our players to compete. Any additional opportunity to represent our university and the Eau Claire community is an honor and privilege.”
The game will be played at Verona Area High School’s new football stadium near Madison on November 20. It will be the first college bowl game held in Wisconsin.
“We are extremely excited that our football student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete in the inaugural Culver’s Isthmus Bowl against the CCIW,” WIAC commissioner Danielle Harris said in the release. “Both conferences have storied histories on the football field and this game will showcase the competitive spirit of both conferences.”
Both leagues have been successful on a nationwide scale on the football field. The CCIW produced the last Division III national champion when North Central won the title in 2019, while the WIAC routinely produces national champions and deep playoff runs.
Both conferences had two teams reach the NCAA playoffs in 2019: UW-Oshkosh and UW-Whitewater from the WIAC and North Central and Wheaton from the CCIW.
“With the depth of football talent in the CCIW and the WIAC, fans will be treated to a very competitive contest,” CCIW executive director Maureen Harty said.
Founder and bowl game director Mike Shaw said it will pit the nation’s two finest conferences head-to-head.
“The Culver’s Isthmus Bowl was created to further showcase the two best conferences in NCAA Division III athletics nationwide,” Shaw said. “Putting together the first bowl game in Wisconsin state history is exciting, but bringing it to my hometown of Madison is a dream come true. When Culver’s agreed to become the major sponsor, everything started to come together. They have been tremendous to work with.”
Neither conference played a 2020 season due to the pandemic.
“The greater Madison area is passionate about college football,” said Jamie Patrick, Vice President of the Madison Area Sports Commission. “After a year with few live sporting events, we are excited to bring the community this new fall bowl game and recognize a group of talented Division III athletes.”
Tickets for the bowl game are $10 and will go on sale beginning October 1. A percentage of ticket sales will benefit Special Olympics of Wisconsin.