The big talker this week has involved the future of conference and non-conference games in the Big Ten, following the breakup of the pact with the Pac 12. This topic of discussion will only garner more attention as we approach next week's Big Ten media days, but while talk of expanding to a nine-game conference schedule is surfacing, Wisconsin is forming decent non-conference schedules for the coming years.
The news has not been confirmed yet, but it appears Wisconsin may be headed for a three-year series with BYU. Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said on Twitter a few days ago he looks forward to hosting a nontraditional opponent at home in 2013 and that the deal is very close to being completed. Last year, linebacker commit Vince Biegel also alluded to the idea of a nontraditional opponent when he said the Badgers were set to face the Cougers for the 2014-15 seasons. We still have to wait for confirmation that the team Bielema is referring to is in fact BYU, but with each school having an open date on Sept. 14, 2013, it appears to be BYU in all likelihood. This would be a nice addition to UW's future schedules, and while BYU may not be top-caliber competition, it would be a step in the right direction.
ESPN.com blogger Adam Rittenberg nicely illustrates how the Big Ten and Pac 12 will continue to hold multiple interconference matchups each season, holding true particularly for the Badgers. In the article, UW head coach Bret Bielema talked about how the dissolution of the Big Ten/Pac 12 agreement will not have major implications for Wisconsin, but it would have helped the scheduling process.
"The deal wasn't going to affect us because we have a Pac-12 opponent on our schedule every year," Bielema said. "I was amazed at how many crossover games there were already. The part we were hoping the format would [help] is that scheduling probably ends up being one of the hardest non-field-related issues you deal with. It's just very frustrating, at least from my point of view, to get home-and-homes with quality people. People want you to go play in their place, but they don't want to come play at yours."
Here's a look at the UW's future opponents (minus the potential BYU series) currently under contract.
Year-by-year Wisconsin non-conference opponents
2012 — @ Oregon State (second game of home-and-home series)
2013 —@ Arizona State (second game of home-and-home series)
2014 — @ Washington State
2015 — VS Washington State
2016 — @ Virginia Tech
2017 — VS Virginia Tech
2018 — VS Washington
2019 — @ Washington
Granted, Alabama and Notre Dame are not on this list and marquee matchups are still to be desired, but it seems UW is making progress. We'll just have to wait and see how many conference games the Big Ten athletic directors want to proceed with for the future and how that could affect non-conference scheduling for Wisconsin and other Big Ten members.
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