MADISON - For those Wisconsin football fans wishing the Badgers’ non-conference schedule would add a marquee opponent, the 2013 season might satisfied their demands.
In addition to traveling to Pac 12 opponent Arizona State, Wisconsin announced Wednesday that the Badgers and the BYU Cougars have signed a contract to play in the 2013 season and beyond.
“I’m very excited because hopefully it’s something that will continue to grow from here,” Bielema said in a statement. “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.
“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,” Bielema 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.”
BYU is a considerable step up in competition from some of Wisconsin's other nonconference games in recent seasons. The Cougars finished their first season as an independent last season with a 10-3 — which included a 14-13 victory against Ole Miss in the season opener — and beat Tulsa in the Armed Forces Bowl.
Ranked No.25 in the final coaches’ poll, BYU is 66-24 in the seven previous seasons under head coach Bronco Mendenhall. The only previous meeting between BYU and UW was won by the Cougars, 28-3 in 1980.
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, meaning UW will host the Cougars between a road game at Iowa No.2 and hosting Indiana No.9.
“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 … A lot of teams in the SEC play backend (nonconference) games but they slide in FCS or MAC opponents.”
The Badgers have never played Tennessee Tech or Massachusetts. Wisconsin is 1-2 lifetime against the Sun Devils, including 0-1 in Tempe, but beat Arizona State, 20-19, in 2010.
Future Wisconsin schedules