About a year ago, Bret Bielema was trying to set up a home and away series with both Notre Dame and Nebraska. Makes you wonder a bit if Coach Bielema wasn't in on some of the expansion conversation with Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez. After all, those are two of the most likely teams that might join the Big Ten when they expanded. But, that's a conspiracy theory for another day.
Today is Wisconsin day, and although they may not be a permanent rival, divisional foe or even our end-of-season rival, the Badgers bring a lot of excitement to Nebraska fans. You know about Barry Alvarez and his connection with Nebraska. Wisconsin also has taken advantage of their walk-on program, they get to host Nebraska for their first Big Ten Conference game, and the color red is important to them. That color will be out in full force on October 1st for the first meeting of the two schools since 19(74).
I have a very good friend from Wisconsin. He loves his Packers, his Brewers and his Badgers. But he's been in Nebraska long enough to become rooted here and aligns with the Huskers. When we got together last fall for a Nebraska game, the topic of the Big Ten came up. "We should go to the game in Madison next year." Since then, when I mention a road trip to other people, most of them seem interested in the Wisconsin game. The game in Madison might be a tough ticket to come by, so I guess we'll have to wait and see.
The Badgers mascot is Bucky the Badger and Wisconsin has a really cool trophy that they compete against with Minnesota. Paul Bunyan's Axe. Their other trophy, The Heartland Trophy, is played against Iowa. The brass bull has only been around since 2004 and Wisconsin-Iowa won't see each other in the regular season for the next two years.
When Nebraska - Big Ten became official, Coach Bielema wanted to set up a trophy game with Nebraska. Well, what could the two schools play for? I think it would be kind of hard to set up a trophy game if the two schools don't meet every year, so maybe they could do something a little different than your typical trophy game. How about we focus on the color red. Let's keep it simple. The winner of this years game gets to wear their red home jersey's at the next meeting. That might be in the Big Ten title game, or it might be in Lincoln next year. Point is, the team that wears the red jersey in all future games between the two schools earns it by winning the previous matchup.
That, or the kicker of last years losing team has to wear a pink jersey. Think of the marketing revenue that could be brought in. How many lady Husker fans would have bought a pink Alex Henery jersey?
Anyway. Wisconsin-Nebraska should be a fun series. Maybe at some point down the road we'll get them every year.