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Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Wisconsin fans make nonconference picks

By Brian Bennett

Last week, we asked you to pick the nonconference opponent you'd most like to see your favorite team play in the near future. You could pick a team already on the upcoming schedule or one that inexplicably hasn't been added.

The response so far has been great. If your team hasn't been featured so far (the list of teams is at the bottom of this post), please make sure to send us your picks here and here, and be sure to identify your Big Ten allegiance and why you're picking a certain nonconference foe.

Today, we get to hear from Wisconsin fans on who they'd like to see on the nonleague schedule.

Boston Bucky from Jamaica Plain, Mass.: Not a ton of non-conference rivals to choose from with the Badgers.UCLA and Stanford are both interesting choices since UW played them 5 times in bowl games since the early 90s. It could also be fun to throw Miami into the mix since UW has recruited that area. However, this is all burying the lead.How could it not be Arkansas and "Thug" Bielema? While Gordon Gee doesn't speak for citizens of Madison, he wasn't too far off in his remarks. There is a reason that most fans were actually happy to watch him leave when he did, and it didn't all relate to how he managed the team or the game clock. While he may have coached some really great football teams for UW, I personally feel that he was the element that kept them from playing for a national championship. Other than OSU, Minnesota, and Iowa, nothing would get Madison more amped for a game.

Roger from Minneapolis: Am a Badger fan and would really like them to play Arkansas. The reason why, expect you know!

Ray from Lincoln, Neb.: Badger fan in Nebraska here. I have always wanted to see the Badgers play Notre Dame. I think the tradition of each program is very rich and the fan bases are very loyal. Would be a great atmosphere. I am also very thrilled to see that the Badgers and LSU series is being finalized.

Derek from La Crosse, Wis.: I would love to see us play Arkansas and go for two while up by 20+ points just to stick it to ol' Bret. Aside from that game, it would be nice to us go up against UCLA in a rematch of the '94 and '99 Rose Bowls. A home and home series would be great with UCLA, as there is no denying how much Badger fans love getting down to Pasadena, and it would be nice to show them our neck of the woods for a change.

Rob from New York, N.Y.: As a Wisconsin alum, I think a lot of us would like to see the Badgers play one SEC foe in particular, but I am going to go a little off the beaten path and say that I would rather the Badgers play teams that mesh with the school's profile. In particular, Texas and Cal. Playing them would be dream "institutional" matchups for UW. Both are similar to Wisconsin in terms of academics and culture. I know I'd much rather go to a road game in the Bay Area or Austin than Fayetteville (what in the world is there to do in Fayetteville?). And thinking a little longer term, I think it could actually form the basis of a really interesting long distance rivalry because the schools are so similar. Yeah, it lacks the betrayal factor that comes with "Bert," but I think it would hearken back to what college sports are kind of all about.

Isaac from Green Bay, Wis.: Badgers fan here. I'm excited by the new system Andersen is implementing on defense. I would love to get another crack at Oregon and see if we can handle that team speed.

Ryan from Madison: As an alum, I'd like to see the Badgers play some of the top football teams from universities in the AAU; especially teams where the college-town feel of Madison is reflected in their respective hometowns. Particularly, teams like: Cal, Colorado, Iowa State or Texas. Matchups against teams like that would provide good-to-great AQ nonconference opponents, as well as places worth making a pilgrimage to support the Badgers on the road.

Tom from Janesville, Wis.: As a Badger fan, I have a couple of exciting non-conference matchups already lined up! However, I would love to set a home/home with Texas A&M.

My two cents: Not surprisingly, Arkansas was the team most mentioned here. It's an obvious choice and would make for some delicious storylines if Bret Bielema were to face his old team. We can only hope this happens soon in a bowl somewhere.

But while that game would be a whole lot of fun, I think the novelty of the Bielema return would wear off quickly, and there aren't any other compelling reasons to play Arkansas. As Boston Bucky pointed out, there aren't a lot of natural rivals out there for Wisconsin. I like the idea of a Notre Dame series, because the schools are pretty close and share a large alumni base in Chicago. And I also like the suggestions by Ryan and Rob of playing teams from similar college towns, like Cal and Colorado. Certainly, Madison residents would feel at home in Berkeley and Boulder, and vice versa.

There just aren't a lot of other teams that jump out (or around) as opponents that the Badgers absolutely should play. Luckily, the school is being proactive in raising its nonconference schedule with future games planned or in the works against Alabama, LSU and Virginia Tech.

More fan nonleague picks

Penn State
Michigan State
Ohio State