Montee Ball, UW football vs. Purdue

Badgers running back Montee Ball (28) runs over Purdue safety Albert Evans (32) on a third quarter touchdown run at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011. M.P. King-State Journal

M.P. King -- Wisconsin State Journal

University of Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema has been a proponent recently of playing a Big Ten Conference game in September.

It's similar to the Southeastern Conference scheduling practice of playing a league game in the first four weeks, with a fourth nonconference game sandwiched somewhere toward the end of the conference season.

Bielema floated the idea at the Big Ten Kickoff event in Chicago a year ago and rather than wait for the conference to do something about it, he went ahead and changed up things himself.

The Badgers announced a creative 2013 schedule on Wednesday that required some juggling and innovation on the part of Bielema.

With the help of the Big Ten and Purdue, the Oct. 26 home game against the Boilermakers was moved to Sept. 21. That means UW and Purdue will start the conference season a week ahead of everybody else.

The main goal was to prevent the Badgers from playing eight straight games without a break.

“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 in a UW release.

“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 schedule also includes a nonconference date with Brigham Young, which was previously reported by the State Journal. That game will be played at Camp Randall Stadium on Nov. 9, sandwiched between conference games at Iowa and at home against Indiana.

Bielema admitted the date for the BYU game is not ideal, but said, “I think it showed willingness on our part to make this BYU game happen. We did everything we could to make the 2013 schedule as good as we could.”

Ideally, Bielema said he would like to play an easier nonconference game late in the season, similar to what SEC teams do.

“It was the only way we could make it work,” Bielema said. “A lot of teams in the SEC play back-end (nonconference) games but they slide in FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) or MAC (Mid-American) opponents.”

The only previous meeting between UW and BYU was in 1980, when Cougars quarterback Jim McMahon threw for 337 yards in his team's 28-3 win at Camp Randall Stadium.

With BYU playing an independent schedule and making an attempt to schedule more high-caliber opponents, Bielema is hoping this could be the start of a rivalry with the Cougars. The two sides are also working on future dates.

One other tie between the two programs is incoming UW linebacker Vince Biegel, from Wisconsin Rapids. His father is former BYU linebacker Rocky Biegel.

“I’m very excited because, hopefully, it’s something that will continue to grow from here,” Bielema said in the release. “There have been talks beyond next year and that’s very intriguing to me.”

The Badgers open the season with home games against Massachusetts (Aug. 31) and Tennessee Tech (Sept. 7). UMass previously announced that game.

Tennessee Tech is an FCS member and plays in the Ohio Valley Conference. It will mark the eighth consecutive year UW will play a team from that lower level.

The Badgers play at Arizona State on Sept. 14, the continuation of several home-and-home series with Pacific-12 opponents. They travel to Oregon State this season and play Washington State in 2014 and 2015. Washington comes on the schedule in 2018.

UW previously scheduled a home-and-home series with Virginia Tech that starts in 2016.

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