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Wisconsin vs. BYU extra special for Vince Biegel

Vince Biegel's father and uncle both played football for BYU. Saturday, the Wisconsin linebacker will do everything he can to beat the Cougars, a matchup he's been waiting years for.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

MADISON -- It's hard for Dave Aranda to notice a difference in Vince Biegel's approach this week.

The Wisconsin defensive coordinator labeled Biegel the "definition of gung-ho" after Wednesday's practice. All he sees from the linebacker is a locked-in player who goes full-speed every play, obscuring the fact that Saturday's game against BYU is one the redshirt freshman has been waiting for since his recruitment.

Brendan Kelly can see it, though. Biegel's fellow outside linebacker, who spends much of his time perfecting pass-rushing moves with Biegel, can tell this week is different for his teammate, whose father and uncle both played for the Cougars in the early '90s.

"I think he's got a lot of motivation this week," Kelly said of Biegel. "You see him running around in practice [Wednesday] with a little extra pep in his step. But every game is big for Vince. Vince doesn't take a team lightly, and just like any other team, he's going to prepare the right way, he's going to do the right thing, get his body right, and he's going to go out there Saturday and give 110 percent."

And Biegel hopes, but isn't certain, his intense preparation will move his family to root for the Badgers come Saturday.

His father, Rocky, played linebacker for BYU from 1988-92 and also wrestled for the Cougars. He was a second-team All-WAC player in 1990. Vince's uncle, T.D., played fullback for BYU from 1989-93.

Vince, from Wisconsin Rapids, grew up rooting for BYU and Wisconsin, but made the tough decision to stay close to home over following his family's footsteps to Provo, Utah.

Even before he began his career for the Badgers last season, he knew Wisconsin and BYU were slated to play each other in Camp Randall Stadium during the 2013 season. He's been eagerly anticipating the matchup ever since.

"The game's been on my mind for a while," Biegel said. "It's a game I've had in the back of my mind all year. But I'm just approaching it like another game. BYU's a great football program, and we'll be prepared and ready for them this week."

Biegel sees himself as a different player than his father was. Rocky was a rough-and-tough run-stopper that played in the middle. Vince often comes off the edge in pass-rushing situations.

That doesn't mean that Vince hasn't leaned on his father for plenty of advice throughout his career, including how he should approach Saturday's game against Rocky's alma mater.

"He's a guy I can go to for advice on and off the field. My dad just told me to take (Saturday) like another game." -Vince Biegel on his dad, Rocky

"He's a guy I can go to for advice on and off the field," Vince said. "My dad just told me to take (Saturday) like another game. Obviously there are a lot of emotions with ties to BYU, but just go out there, play my game, play fast, play strong."

Biegel has begun to show what he's capable of in recent weeks. His first year on campus was cut short by a foot injury, and he was granted a medical redshirt after playing just two games in 2012.

As a redshirt freshman this season, he's shined on special teams and started to carry a bigger role in the Badgers' defense. Head coach Gary Andersen said Monday that he could start seeing more reps during the season's final four games.

"He is consistently learning," Aranda said. "He's consistently working on his craft. He's consistently looking for help, looking for ways to better himself, studying pro tape and getting with Brendan Kelly and working on different moves, comparing notes on what they see."

Biegel, nicknamed "The Stormin' Mormon" by his teammates, comes from a religious background and believes everything happens for a reason, including his injury last season.

Kelly even said Biegel wasn't ready to play last season, and that gaining an extra year of eligibility has been a blessing in disguise for the freshman.

"Every single day, Vince is a guy that's getting more mature on the field," Kelly said. "Maturity is what he really needs. He's got the strength, he's got the speed, he's got the effort. I think as he continues to mature and continues to sharpen the blade of his craft, he's going to be a great player here."

There would be no better week for Biegel, who has 15 tackles and two sacks this year, to have his breakout performance. At the very least, he should have plenty of support in Camp Randall Stadium Saturday.

"It's going to be a fun weekend," Biegel said. "Obviously the family is pretty excited. My dad has quite a few of his buddies coming down, ex-football players. There will be quite a few family and friends there.

"I hope they'll all be wearing red and white this week. That's all I can say."

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