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MADISON - With strength of schedule about to become an important piece of the college football postseason in two years, Wisconsin continue to make strides in attempting to improve their nonconference schedule.
"I think the world of college football during my tenure has change so much in contracting, people backing out, so you have make sure the contract is rewarded the right way so you don't get someone to back out of your deal and pay fines," UW coach Bret Bielema said Thursday. "In the world of college football after these next two years, it changes dramatically and strength of schedule is going to be a big part of it."
Wisconsin will host the Terrapins in 2020 and travel to Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md, the following year. The two programs have never met.
The last time UW faced an ACC opponent was a 20-14 win over Miami in the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl. The last regular-season meeting with an ACC foe came in 2005 when the Badgers recorded a 14-5 win at North Carolina. Wisconsin is 6-3 all-time against current members of the conference.
Maryland has been to seven bowl games in the last 11 seasons. Under second-year head coach Randy Edsall, the Terps have already doubled their win total from last season and head into the weekend with a 2-0 ACC mark.
Wisconsin will now face at least one BCS conference opponent in each of the next nine seasons. In addition to the Maryland series, the Badgers will also take on Pac-12 foes Washington State (2014 in Pullman and 2015 in Madison) and Washington (2018 in Seattle, 2019 in Madison,), Virginia Tech (2016 in Blacksburg and 2017 in Madison) from the ACC and independent BYU (2017 in Provo, 2018 in Madison).
Wisconsin was originally scheduled to face Washington in Madison in 2017, but moved its home game back two seasons to not play the Huskies, Virginia Tech and BYU in the same year.
From the Infirmary
While Wisconsin should get Tyler Dippel (shoulder) and Ethan Armstrong (leg) back in the mix this weekend when the Badgers host Minnesota, the Badgers will be without senior left tackle Ricky Wagner after getting his right knee rolled on late in the second quarter last week in UW's win against Purdue.
"When you saw it on film it looks pretty nasty," Bielema said. "It's a tribute to how athletic he is and how well his body bends."
Ryan Groy, who shifted to left tackle from left guard after Wagner was injured at Purdue, is set to start at tackle while Zac Matthias or Robby Burge will play at elft guard after getting practice repetitions at guard during the week. Wisconsin expects Wagner back when UW hosts Michigan State Oct.27.
"I don't know if we'll have him Tuesday or Wednesday but my guess is some part of the middle of next week we get him back," Bielema said of Wagner.
Dallas Lewallen (knee) practiced all week and will be available this weekend at the tackle position.
If the rivalry has dimensioned with Wisconsin's recent dominance in the series
"I don't see it that way. One of things we say when you're going into this game, you can take all the records, all the past experiences and throw them out the window. It's really about who plays well on Saturday … I think our kids understand that Saturday, we're going to get an effort from Minnesota that is better than anything they have put on film to this point."
Extra Points: Melvin Gordon has ‘looked real good' on kickoffs and will be involved this week with Kenzel Doe and Jared Abbrederis … Bielema said he's learned to appreciate winning the axe for the entire year for the program, the fans and the state and does use it in some recruiting presentations … Defensive backs coach Ben Strickland spoke to the team this week about the axe and showed video from 2003 of Minnesota's last win in the series, running across the field to take the trophy.