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Early schedule snapshot: Wisconsin

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The schedule snapshots finish up with Wisconsin, which will end the regular season later than any other Big Ten team.

NONCONFERENCE SCHEDULE

Sept. 5 Northern Illinois

Sept. 12 Fresno State

Sept. 19 Wofford

Dec. 5 at Hawaii

My take: Wisconsin's decision to move back its series with Virginia Tech took something away from a nonconference slate that still features a few challenges. The Badgers' win at Fresno State last year lost some luster after the Bulldogs struggled down the stretch, but Pat Hill's squad is usually solid and a Wisconsin victory this fall should mean more. Northern Illinois is on the rise under head coach Jerry Kill and will provide Wisconsin's new starting quarterback with a decent opening test. Hawaii is always tough at home, as Big East champ Cincinnati found out last year, and Wisconsin will need to put up points to beat the Warriors in Honolulu.

BIG TEN SCHEDULE

Sept. 26 Michigan State

Oct. 3 at Minnesota

Oct. 10 at Ohio State

Oct. 17 Iowa

Oct. 24 Open

Oct. 31 Purdue

Nov. 7 at Indiana

Nov. 14 Michigan

Nov. 21 at Northwestern

Byes: Penn State, Illinois

My take: The Badgers are the only team with a bye in the middle of the Big Ten schedule -- Illinois likely will have one before league play opens -- and it comes at a good time. The opening stretch is brutal with trips to rival Minnesota and Ohio State bookended by tough home contests against Michigan State and Iowa. Wisconsin can do some damage during the second half of the conference slate, but it needs to avoid another slow start after dropping its first four league games in 2008. Road games at Northwestern and Hawaii could go a long way toward determining Wisconsin's postseason fate or bowl destination.