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What former Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema said about the Badgers

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Illinois Indiana Football

Illinois coach Bret Bielema smiles after a touchdown against Indiana Sept. 2.

The date of the University of Wisconsin football team's matchup with Illinois has been circled on fans' calendars since the schedule was released. But for them, the excitement surrounding Saturday's game has less to do with the players on the field than the coaches leading them out of the tunnel. 

Making his return to Madison, Fighting Illini coach Bret Bielema will coach from the visitor sidelines at Camp Randall for the first time in his career. 

Bielema, who left UW in December 2012 to take the same role at Arkansas, led the Badgers to a 68-24 record over seven seasons. 

Since taking over the Illini in 2021, Bielema is 8-8 entering Saturday's game, including a 24-0 loss to UW last season at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois. 

From laughing with former UW coach and athletic director Barry Alvarez at Big Ten media days back in July to breaking down what a return to Madison means last week after Illinois' win over Chattanooga, here are three video clips highlighting Bielema's feelings about facing the Badgers: 

1. Fun and games

When the Big Ten Conference held its media days in Indianapolis last July, Bielema kept things light while interacting with his former boss.

2. Home away from home

Taking a more serious stance at media days on his return to Madison, Bielema said that while the outside storylines don't make their way into the team's thinking, there are certain advantages as a coach to being comfortable at a stadium like Camp Randall.

3. Eyes on the prize

After Illinois shut out Chattanooga 31-0 on Thursday, Bielema admitted that a return to Madison had personal importance but insisted that the focus remain on the on-the-field battle between the Badgers and Illini.

The former University of Wisconsin football coach talks about what returning to Madison means to him while insisting the focus stay on the Illini's matchup with the Badgers on Saturday at Camp Randall.

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