The University of Wisconsin football team will play four primetime, nationally televised night games this season after the Big Ten Conference announced its prime time ESPN lineup on Thursday. The four night games are more than any other conference team.
"This is another great compliment to our program and a testament to what we have been able to accomplish on the field as well as the tremendous fan support we receive," UW head coach Bret Bielema said in a statement."This is great exposure on the national landscape not only for the football program but also the athletic department and the university. I know our fans love late kickoffs because it allows them to enjoy the day and we have a tradition of success in night games that we hope to continue this season."
Wisconsin was already confirmed into playing two primetime games before the schedule started – hosting UNLV Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. to kickoff the college football season and hosting Nebraska Oct. 1 in the Cornhuskers first ever Big Ten game. That game will kickoff at 7 p.m. CT and appear on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
Wisconsin's game against UNLV will mark the first time Wisconsin has hosted a Thursday night game on ESPN since 2000 when it hosted Western Michigan.
The most challenging stretch in Wisconsin's 2011 season is its back-to-back road tests at Michigan State and Ohio State, and both of which are going to be viewed in primetime. Wisconsin will travel to Michigan State, where they suffered their only regular season loss of 2010, on Oct. 22 and play at Columbus one week later.
Both games will kickoff at 7 p.m. and appear on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. The other Big Ten games set to appear on the ESPN family of networks in primetime include Notre Dame at Michigan (Sept. 10), Notre Dame at Purdue (Oct. 1) and Ohio State at Nebraska (Oct. 8).
Wisconsin played four night games just one other time in school history, in 2002. One of those games was the Alamo Bowl against Colorado, making this UW's first regular season with four night games. The Badgers have won 26 of their last 29 games played at night and are 8-2 at home in night games since 1998.
Both the contests against the Running Rebels and Buckeyes will be primetime rematches from last season. The Badgers opened the season Sept. 4 with a 41-21 victory at UNLV and beat then-No. 1 Ohio State, 31-18, on Oct. 16 in Madison.
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