Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen is very familiar with Bronco Mendenhall and the BYU football program, but it was not until after he took the Badgers job that he realized he'd be facing a familiar foe during his first season in Madison.
"Having BYU on the schedule was probably one of the most shocking things that I looked at when I took this job," Andersen said via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "It's amazing. They follow me all the way here."
Utah had a 6-5 record against BYU when Andersen was on staff as an assistant. In his four seasons at Utah State, Andersen ended a 10-game losing streak in the series but left with a 1-3 record against the Cougars.
"Our goal when we went to Utah State was to try to find a way to create a rivalry game again against BYU, which had not been there forever and ever," Andersen said. "It's been lopsided games and we were fortunate enough to win a game against them and compete at a high level for every year we were there except probably the first year, and created a rivalry again in that situation."
These non-conference agreements, particularly with independents like BYU and Notre Dame, are set years in advance, so Andersen had no say over the Badgers 2013 schedule. Andersen and Mendenhall have known each other for decades, and on Monday the Badgers coach said the two have "become close coaching friends."
As far as the on-field preparation for BYU, Badgers fans were happy to hear star linebacker Chris Borland expressing his plans to play against the Cougars after missing time with a hamstring injury. Borland said he'd be "shocked" if he couldn't play, but Andersen did not want to jump the gun on his, or anyone else's, injury status.
"We've made a lot of progress, some real positive progress in a number of those kids," Andersen said Monday. "But I can't say anybody's going to play for sure yet."
Borland leads the team with 57 tackles. Junior Marcus Trotter has filled in at the inside linebacker position while Borland has been out, recording nine tackles each of the past two games.