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Wisconsin and LSU fans created a great environment at Lambeau Field, something the Badgers should try to replicate in future nonconference games.

Wisconsin football nonconference games we all want to see, Nigel Hayes pens commencement speech to … everyone, and more

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Today is Thursday, May 11, and this is what’s for breakfast.


Giving it some juice

We’re just going to go ahead and say it. Wisconsin’s nonconference football schedule for the next three seasons is boring. Games against BYU, Florida Atlantic, New Mexico and Western Kentucky lack the energy of the last four seasons when the Badgers had two games against LSU, a matchup with Alabama and a trip to Arizona State.

While it’s possible that games could be moved around or pushed back, what Wisconsin fans will likely see in the next three seasons just isn’t very attractive. So, with an eye toward future schedules, and disregarding all the variables that schedulers have to deal with, here are a few matchups that would have fans drooling.

Notre Dame at Lambeau Field

With the epic success of the 2016 opener with the Badgers and LSU, the Green Bay Packers want to have Wisconsin play at the legendary stadium again, with the long-rumored opponent being Notre Dame. The potential for two games is there, with one being played at Lambeau Bay and the other at Soldier Field in Chicago in an effort to give each side something that amounts to a home game. The two schools haven’t played since 1964, but there would be plenty of interest from both fan bases to make it worthwhile and a must-have ticket.

Home-and-home with Arkansas

Former Wisconsin coach and current Arkansas coach Bret Bielema’s presence would make for an intriguing non-conference game. (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

This one will likely never happen, perhaps because it makes too much sense. Fans would get to “welcome” former coach Bret Bielema back to Camp Randall Stadium, with some still holding a grudge about the way he exited following the 2012 Big Ten Championship Game.

Bielema has said he’d be open to it, but not until the last of the players he recruited to Madison were gone. That will happen with the departure of the 2017 senior class, with many of the fifth-year guys having committed to Bielema before he left.

Obviously, things have worked out much better on the field for Wisconsin than they have for the Razorbacks in the four seasons since, but this would still ratchet up the most fervor for any nonconference game the Badgers could schedule.

Home-and-home with LSU

The schools split their meetings at neutral sites in the last three seasons, but with the way the games played out, it would be fun to see each squad have to travel into the other’s home field. Both environments would be electric, with recent history making things even more entertaining. Both fan bases love to experience new places, and to see Tigers in the bars on Regent Street or Badgers invading Death Valley would be great for each side.

Other potential opponents

Oregon State (meeting with former coach Gary Andersen)

Texas at Lambeau Field (huge fan base that’s willing to travel, great environment)

Another SEC team (if not LSU or Alabama, give the Badgers a team such as Florida, Georgia or Tennessee)

A commencement address

Former Wisconsin F Nigel Hayes wasn’t chosen to speak at his high school or college graduation, so he took his words to The Players’ Tribune, writing about his four years in Madison and delivering a message to the students who, like him, will graduate on Saturday.

The piece touched on a number of points, but his main one was to people in general but athletes in particular — don’t let anyone paint you into a corner as one thing and one thing only.

“Never accept it when someone says, ‘Just shut up and play.’ Or whatever the equivalent is in your field.

“Don’t accept it when they say, ‘Stay in your lane.’

“Let’s use all possible lanes. Let’s create new lanes. Each of us is more than just the job we do for a few hours a day.

“Whether we play basketball or not.”

Your response to his message is likely based on whether you agree with the idea that public figures can be something more than what you see. The answer for most logical people is that of course Hayes and others can have their opinion and tweet it and talk about it all they want. We don’t have to agree with it or even understand it, but we do have to respect their right to put it out there.

Hayes will be missed at Wisconsin. Not just for what he did on the court and in the classroom, or even his unique ability to fill up a reporter’s notebook with quotes. In a world of clichés, practiced answers and athletes keeping their head down, Hayes rarely gave into that. He was a thinker and his words forced others to think. The Ohio native used his platform for what he thought was good even when it may have rocked the boat a bit at times.

Hayes is better for having come to Wisconsin and the school is better for having him there.

The West is Wisconsin’s?

ESPN’s Dan Murphy revealed his college football stock watch for the Big Ten West on Wednesday and the Badgers were, like they were at the end of the 2016 season, sitting on top with Murphy firmly in the “Buy” column.

Wisconsin: Buy. Despite losing another defensive coordinator at the end of 2016, the Badgers don’t appear to be headed for any setback on that side of the ball. Promoting Jim Leonhard makes for a smoother transition. The front seven should remain stingy with the number of players returning and additions such as junior college transfer Andrew Van Ginkel. Alex Hornibrook gives the offense a reliable and strong passer to match its running game.”

Murphy also had Minnesota and Northwestern as buys, while Purdue and Nebraska were holds and Iowa and Illinois were sells.

It’s hard to argue with Murphy’s take on Wisconsin, though it may be a little too much to call Hornibrook a strong and reliable passer at this point. Yes, it was only his first collegiate season, but his 9 touchdowns and 7 interceptions last season weren’t exactly overwhelming; it’s tough to say he’s got it all figured out. He’s got a chance to be that guy, but it’s far from the sure thing Murphy makes it sound like.

Catching up

  • Wisconsin’s women’s golf team saw its season come to end on Wednesday at the NCAA Columbus Regional, finishing 13th of 18 teams.
  • From Madison.com: The Wisconsin softball team had three players named second-team All-Big Ten performers on Wednesday.
  • Receiving his Pittsburgh Steelers jersey was ‘special’ for former Wisconsin LB T.J. Watt.
  • From Todd Milewski at the Wisconsin State Journal: Badgers hockey names Cam Hughes captain for the 2017-18 season.