Dienhart: Bielema Embraces Rivalry

Dienhart: Bielema Embraces Rivalry

It can be argued that Wisconsin and Michigan State have become the top programs in the Big Ten. The teams met in the inaugural Big Ten championship game and have won a combined 44 games the last two seasons. No Big Ten schools can match that. Wisconsin has advanced to the last two Rose Bowls, while Michigan State has won 11 games each of the past two seasons and claimed a share of the 2010 title. So, is this a burgeoning rivalry?

“I think our players just have so much respect for the Michigan State players and the way they compete,” said Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema. “They play at such a high level, but also the intensity that they bring obviously is second to none.”

Playing Michigan State twice helped fuel the competition between the schools. The Spartans won a scintillating regular-season matchup on a last-second pass, but the Badgers returned the favor with the victory in the league title game.

“I’ve never had that opportunity to play a rematch game within a conference like we did last year,” said Bielema. “So that just kind of, I think, built it that much more. And it’s really something that’s emerged really probably in my time there as the head coach, and it’s something that hopefully will continue to grow.”

Wisconsin and Michigan State will meet on October 27 in Madison. Find more of our Big Ten Media Day coverage.

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is on Twitter and Facebook, all of his work is at btn.com/tomdienhart, and you can subscribe to it all via his RSS feed. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below.

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