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Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe moves to end of season, among other Badgers football schedule changes
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Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe moves to end of season, among other Badgers football schedule changes

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The 2021 Big Ten Conference football slate got some adjustments Friday after the 2020 scheduled required an overhaul.

The University of Wisconsin kept its original season opener, hosting Penn State on Sept. 4, but had the Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe against Minnesota moved to Nov. 27, the last week of the regular season. UW will travel to Purdue instead of hosting them this season.

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The Big Ten said it needed to change this year’s schedule to reset game site rotations and crossover matchups between the East and West Divisions that were thrown out of whack last season.

Here’s an updated look at the Badgers’ schedule, with kickoff times and TV networks still to be determined:

Sept. 4: vs. Penn State

Sept. 11: vs. Eastern Michigan

Sept. 18: Bye week

Sept. 25: vs. Notre Dame at Soldier Field, Chicago

Oct. 2: vs. Michigan

Oct. 9: at Illinois

Oct. 16: vs. Army

Oct. 23: at Purdue

Oct. 30: vs. Iowa

Nov. 6: at Rutgers

Nov. 13: vs. Northwestern

Nov. 20: vs. Nebraska

Nov. 27: at Minnesota

UW coaches or players were not available for comment on the new schedule, per a UW official. After a disappointing 4-3 campaign last season — one rocked by COVID-19 and injuries — the Badgers are looking to return to Big Ten title contention. 

The Badgers haven’t played Penn State since a 22-10 loss in 2018, haven’t beaten the Nittany Lions since 2011, but are 6-4 all-time at home against PSU.

UW sees a familiar face in former coach Bret Bielema when it travels to Champaign in October. Bielema won three consecutive conference championships while leading the Badgers and has the second-most wins in program history (68-24). Illinois beat then-No. 6 Wisconsin on a field goal with time expiring when the teams played at Illinois in 2019.

UW will host Nebraska this season after the 2020 game against the Cornhuskers was canceled due to the Badgers’ COVID-19 outbreak. The Badgers have topped Nebraska in their past seven meetings.

The Badgers’ nonconference schedule remains intact, including a marquee matchup against Notre Dame on Sept. 25 at Soldier Field in Chicago. That game got even more interesting after quarterback Jack Coan transferred from UW to Notre Dame this offseason. Coan was a graduate transfer and will be in the running to start for the Irish. UW hasn’t played Notre Dame since 1964.

UW also is slated to host Army on Oct. 16, marking the first time the programs have played against one another.


A game-by-game look at the Badgers' new schedule

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