July 25, 2012
BY MIKE LUCAS
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema anticipates a developing rivalry with BYU now that the Cougars have been added to the 2013 home schedule and future dates have also being discussed.
“I’m very excited because hopefully it’s something that will continue to grow from here,” Bielema said. “There have been talks beyond next year and that’s very intriguing to me.”
The Badgers will face the Cougars on Nov. 9, 2013 at Camp Randall Stadium – the intersectional game falls on what was originally one of two bye weeks in the Big Ten schedule for Wisconsin.
The UW’s other bye is Oct. 5 following the Sept. 28 conference opener at Ohio State. To avoid playing eight straight games without a break, the Badgers needed help in tweaking their schedule.
With the cooperation of the Big Ten and Purdue, the Oct. 26 home game against the Boilermakers has been moved to Sept. 21 thereby creating a second bye week in October.
Wisconsin and Purdue will, thus, open the conference season one week ahead of everybody else in the Big Ten – on the third Saturday of September – representing a departure in the scheduling approach.
Bielema has long been a proponent of doing it this way.
“One of the things that I’m excited about is adding a conference game to that beginning four weeks of the schedule, much the same as the SEC does,” he said.
“It really does a nice job of highlighting your league and it would allow us to maybe play more of a quality opponent earlier in the season.”
The Badgers will open the 2013 season with home games against UMass (Aug. 31) and Tennessee Tech (Sept. 7) followed by a road trip to Arizona State (Sept. 14).
Since BYU was not available on Sept. 21 – the Cougars will be playing host to Boise State in Provo, UT – Bielema had to juggle the back end of Wisconsin’s schedule.
“I think it showed willingness on our part to make this BYU game happen,’’ he said. “We did everything we could to make the 2013 schedule as good as we could.”
That included, he said, taking on BYU in the midst of the Big Ten schedule in November; sandwiching the Cougars between a road date at Iowa and a home game against Indiana.
“It was the only way we could make it work,’’ Bielema said. “A lot of teams in the SEC play backend (nonconference) games but they slide in FCS or MAC opponents.”
That would be the preferred formula, he implied.
There are definitely a number of intriguing storylines for a UW-BYU series.
The only previous meeting between the schools was in 1980 when legendary Cougars’ quarterback Jim McMahon completed 22-of-34 passes for 337 yards in a 28-3 win at Camp Randall.
As a college player, Bielema had some history with BYU dating to the 1991 Holiday Bowl when Iowa and the Ty Detmer-led Cougars battled to a 13-13 tie. The Hawkeyes finished 10-1-1 that season.
“Had we not lost to Michigan,” recalled Bielema, a starting nose guard for the Hawks, “we could have been playing for a national championship.’’
As a college recruiter, Bielema also has had some history with the Cougars in that the Badgers signed Wisconsin Rapids’ linebacker Vince Biegel, an incoming freshman, who was recruited by BYU.
Vince Biegel is the son of former BYU linebacker Rocky Biegel, who was the leading tackler for the Cougars in 1990. In addition, Vince Biegel’s uncle – T.D. Biegel – is a former BYU fullback.
“It’s going to make for an intriguing game,” Bielema said, “for a lot of people.”
Since leaving the Mountain West following the 2011 season, BYU’s independent status adds to the intrigue; especially in terms of balancing future schedules with opponents like the Badgers.
In 2013, the Cougars will play back-to-back road games at Wisconsin and Notre Dame.
Meanwhile, the Badgers and their Big Ten fraternity brothers have their own scheduling challenges now that the proposed partnership with the Pac-12, beginning in 2017, has folded.
Speaking to the consistency that an annual matchup against a Pac-12 opponent would have potentially brought to the schedule, Bielema said, “It was something I was hoping for.”
The Badgers are doing their part to keep it alive by playing a Pac-12 program in each of the next four seasons: Oregon State (2012) Arizona State (2013) and Washington State (2014-15).
Washington will also come on the Wisconsin schedule in 2018. In addition, the Badgers have scheduled a home-and-home series with Virginia Tech starting in 2016.
Without that annual “guaranteed game” against the Pac-12, there has been a renewed discussion about the possibility of the Big Ten playing nine conference games, instead of eight.
Playing five road games vs. four home games on odd years is a major stumbling block, though.
Especially for Bielema, who emphasized, “I want to play eight (league) games and I want to play one of our conference games in the first four weeks of the season.”
What does he like most about this approach?
“It’s similar to the SEC model,” he reiterated, “and anyone’s who has won six consecutive national championships obviously has figured out how to do things.”
|Complete 2013 Schedule
||at Arizona State
||at Ohio State
||at Big Ten Championship
||Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.