Gary Andersen and Urban Meyer Relationship Changes Wisconsin-OSU Rivalry

Andrew Coppens@@andycoppensContributor ISeptember 24, 2013

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 21: Wisconsin Badgers head coach Gary Andersen encourages his team against the Purdue Boilermakers during the game at Camp Randall Stadium on September 21, 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

When Wisconsin and Ohio State fans look at their schedules heading into the season, they usually find each other and circle the game on their schedule—at least in recent years. 

It wasn't always that way, but a series of close games and battles for division and conference titles in the past decade-and-a-half had a way of making sure this game became a rivalry. 

Neither team shies away from saying so, it just takes a back seat to more bitter and long-standing rivalries for both teams.

Last year, things were ratcheted up a notch or two thanks to an alleged war of words over recruiting between the old-guard Bret Bielema and the newcomer Urban Meyer 

However, upon Bielema's departure at Wisconsin, things were about to change in this rivalry once again, as the Badgers hired Gary Andersen—a former coach under Meyer at Utah. 

The two are close friends, despite only coaching together for one season at Utah. 

During the Big Ten Media Days, Meyer even told the gathered media that Andersen was, "One of the best two or three hires I have ever made."

MADISON, WI - NOVEMBER 17: Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on November 17, 2012 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

It's doubtful that we would've ever had nice things being said by Meyer and Bielema unless they were downplaying or deflecting comments made to the media before. 

So, how does the relationship between Meyer and Andersen change the way this rivalry has been for the past few years? 

Well, instead of making it about the coaches and what they've been saying or not saying throughout the year, this matchup will be all about the kids on the field. 

For guys like Chris Borland, a senior from Ohio that was never recruited by the Buckeyes, it means one last shot at the school that spurned them. 

While on the other side, there's the whole 16 game win streak and the lack of conference titles—caused by the Badgers—to be played for. 

Of course, changes in the rivalry are nothing new over the last 13 years or so. 

First, there was Wisconsin taking down the defending national champions with a 17-10 victory in 2003—gone were the national title hopes for the Buckeyes. 

Following a second consecutive win by the Badgers the next year, it was the Buckeyes' turn to be the thorn in the side of Wisconsin—winning the next three contests from 2007-09. 

However, one play changed this from a fringe rivalry to a bitter feud that would extend for some time to come: 

Ohio State turned it all around a year later, winning on their own memorable play: 

Now, the Buckeyes are owners of a two game win streak in this rivalry and look to close out the final year of these two teams being bitter divisional rivals with a win at home. 

It would also be sweet on the Buckeyes side of things to take this one on the way to holding the Badgers out of the Big Ten title game for the first time ever and be the team to replace them in the game themselves.

While the fans and players may continue to hate each other to ends that may only be topped by "The Game," don't expect the two coaches at these schools to participate in said hate—and that's something that will take some getting used to.


*Andy Coppens is the Big Ten Lead Writer here at Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted. Follow Andy on Twitter for more things Big Ten.