Tuesday's college football TV scheduling news was met mostly with chagrin by Wisconsin fans. Left off the Big Ten ESPN/ABC primetime slate, Badgers fans grumbled about the likely prospects of fewer night games in 2014.
At least Wednesday brought news of the Aug. 30 season-opener vs. LSU, which now has a kickoff time set for 8 p.m. CT on ESPN. The game, officially named the the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff, will be played at NRG Stadium in Houston, home of the NFL's Houston Texans.
Earlier this month, we reached out to SB Nation's LSU site, And The Valley Shook, for a very early preview of the Tigers. Check out a snippet of the Q&A below, and read the full rundown here. You can also find Wednesday's full release from UW below.
So this is certainly a fascinating matchup, particularly for a season-opener. What should Wisconsin fans know about LSU's offense, defense and special teams?
ATVS: On the offensive side, LSU has always been a very power-and-play-action-oriented offense under Les Miles, and Cam Cameron really whipped that into high-gear last year. But the Tigers lost a ton of production in Zach Mettenberger, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Jeremy Hill, and there's going to be a lot of new faces. A few veteran skill players return like senior running backs Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard and receiver Travin Dural, but look for a ton of freshmen to see action out of LSU's No. 2-rated recruiting class, namely stud running back Leonard Fournette, receivers Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn and maybe even quarterback Brandon Harris. At least all those young skill players will be playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the country, which returns six of its top seven contributors from last year.
On defense, LSU struggled a bit uncharacteristically last season, but some underachieving veterans have departed and a lot of exciting young talent emerged down the stretch, especially in the defensive backfield. Sophomore cornerbacks Rashard Robinson and Tre'davious White could be on the verge of superstardom, and they're joined by two very versatile safeties in Jalen Mills and Rickey Jefferson. Watch out for defensive end Danielle Hunter, who could be a force from the edge.
Release from UW:
MADISON, Wis. - The eyes of the college football world will be on NRG Stadium in Houston on Aug. 30 as Wisconsin and LSU kick off the 2014 football season. ESPN announced Wednesday that the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff between the two teams will begin at 8 p.m. CT and be televised by ESPN.
Both the Badgers and Tigers are ranked in the top 15 of ESPN.com's "Post-Signing Day Top 25." LSU checks in at No. 13 while UW is one spot back at No. 14. LSU ended the 2013 season with a 10-3 record and ranked 14th in both polls while Wisconsin went 9-4 and was ranked 21st in the USA Today Coaches Poll and 22nd in the AP poll.
Wisconsin and LSU have played twice previously, with the Tigers prevailing both times. LSU won, 38-28, on Sept. 25, 1971 at Camp Randall Stadium and was victorious again the following season, 27-7, in Baton Rouge. The 1972 game marks the last time UW played an SEC team during the regular season.
The 2014 game vs. LSU will be the first of three neutral-site season-openers against high-profile SEC teams for the Badgers. UW will kick off the 2015 season against Alabama at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, then play LSU again to open 2016 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.