One of the best parts of the early college football season is the high number of cross-country, out-of-conference games, pitting wildly different fan bases together. Just this week, UCLA fans get to visit Memphis, Ole Miss and Cal fans will hang out in Berkeley, and Kansas State fans get introduced to Nashville.
One of the funniest mixes? Wisconsin is in Provo, Utah, to take on BYU.
Sure, this game is compelling for football reasons. BYU, despite its anemic offense, has an excellent defense and will be Wisconsin’s toughest test before Big Ten play. LaVell Edwards Stadium is gorgeous, both programs have a ton of history, and anybody watching will see cool uniforms and lots of hard hitting.
But there’s something else we should be watching here.
Wisconsin fans like to drink. BYU is a Mormon school.
Look, I’m not saying this as a pejorative or anything. But bars outnumber grocery stores in Wisconsin almost three to one for a reason.
Provo, home of Brigham Young University, does not enjoy adult beverages quite as much. Over 90 percent of Provo’s population is made up of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons), and Mormons don’t drink.
If most of your city doesn’t drink alcohol, you’re probably not going to build too many bars, right?
So I looked into where Wisconsin fans might drink, and it appears Provo has two bars.
Before I get Well Actually’d about this, this doesn’t include places like Chili’s, where you can get a beer, or liquor stores, grocery stores, private clubs, or bars at hotels. And there are bars in nearby cities, like American Fork or Orem. I’m just talking about bars with Provo addresses. And that leaves us with City Limits and ABG’s Libation Emporium.
They’re not worried about running out of alcohol, but that seems like a challenge to me.
I called up ABG to see if it was making special preparations ahead of the Wisconsin game, and I was told that the bar hadn’t even thought about it yet.
“Look, if it’s on TV, it’s on TV, but we’re not going to put on a specific game, because then the college kids come in here and drink waters and don’t buy anything,” I was told.
But ABG’s representative wasn’t worried about actually running out of alcohol.
“We have 53 flavors of beer and probably the largest liquor selection in the [Utah] Valley,” the rep said.
Later, intrepid Wisconsin fans on location at ABG wrote to inform me that ABG had changed its mind and would open at 10 a.m. local time on Saturday, after being convinced by Wisconsin fans that yes, people will show up then and drink.
Yes it's official- opens at 10am pic.twitter.com/yvjz07Kbp5— Jeff Lyons (@jlyonsbadger) September 16, 2017
Inside ABG's Bar in Provo that opened early for Badgers fans. The owner told me he "only expected a couple of people." pic.twitter.com/x50AMUvS0z— Alec Ausmus (@A_Twice27) September 16, 2017
A manager at City Limits, the other bar, told me on Friday that they were swamped before the game, but re-stocked last night, so they’re confident they won’t run out of alcohol. From OutSports, on Badgers taking over Provo’s only gay bar:
the bar opened at 10 a.m. and was filled with Badgers fans of all sexual orientations.
“Everybody thought it was cool that we opened up just for this game,” bartender Tucker Foit told Outsports. The drinks of choice? Bud Light and shots of Fireball. Lots of shots of Fireball.
The crowd was loud but fun, Foit said, and he did have one message he wanted the world to know about Wisconsin fans:
“They're really, really good tippers, better than the Utah tippers,” he said, and then repeated for emphasis, “Wisconsin fans are better tippers than the Utah fans and you can put that in your story.”
Did Wisconsin fans actually drink Provo dry? Well, not exactly.
On Sunday night, a manager at City Limits confirmed to me that no, they didn’t actually run out of anything, although thanks to Wisconsin fans and Provo Pride, they were plenty busy.
A representative at ABG informed me that while they wouldn’t be able to give a detailed report until Monday, they did “sell an awful lot beer and an awful lot of hamburgers.”
One Twitter report said ABG ran out of Coors Light, which is something.
ABG is out of Coors Light. So one mission accomplished. Tongue in cheek "mission" #OnWisconsin— Randy Bump (@Bumper13) September 16, 2017
But actually drinking the town try? It doesn’t appear Wisconsin fans managed to pull it off.
The idea of a fan base actually drinking the whole town’s bars dry is funny.
I don’t want to encourage any risky or unsafe behavior. But there are only two bars here, Wisconsin fans. This is within your power.