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(14) Wisconsin (0-0) vs. (13) LSU (0-0)



Saturday, August 30, 9 p.m. (ET)

The Sports Network

By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: The 14th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers and the 13th-ranked LSU Tigers will be put under the spotlight in prime time on opening Saturday when the squads meet up in the second annual AdvoCare Texas Kickoff at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Wisconsin may have lost Brett Bielema to Arkansas prior to the 2013 season, but with former Utah State head coach Gary Anderson at the helm last year, the squad didn't skip a beat, finishing 9-4 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten with its 12th straight bowl appearance.

As strong as the Badgers' season was, they were left with a bad taste in their mouth at the end. After dropping a 31-24 decision at home to Penn State in the regular season finale, they lost to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl, 34-24, for their fourth straight bowl loss.

The Tigers were in the hunt in the SEC Western Division for most of the 2013 season, but their hopes for a trip to the conference championship game were officially dashed on Nov. 9 when they lost to rival Alabama, 38-17. Although they were a step behind the conference's best, they still finished up an outstanding 10-3 (5-3 SEC) after dismissing Iowa in the Outback Bowl, 21-14.

LSU has qualified for a bowl in 14 straight seasons, including nine in a row under Les Miles, who is an outstanding 95-24 in his career at LSU with seven double-digit win campaigns.

LSU has defeated Wisconsin in both previous meetings, which came in 1971 and 1972.

Wisconsin's offense was a well-oiled machine in 2013, racking up 34.8 ppg and 480.8 ypg, and similar success is expected this season with the return of one of the nation's best running backs.

Melvin Gordon is a threat to bust lose every time he touches the ball. He averaged an incredible 7.8 yards per carry over 206 attempts for 1,609 yards and 12 touchdowns, and with his running mate James White (1,444 yards, 13 TDs) now playing for the New England Patriots, the stars are aligning for Gordon to flirt with 2,000 yards and a Heisman Trophy.

There was an open competition in camp to determine the starting quarterback but, for the first game at least, Joel Stave (2,494 yards, 22 TDs, 13 INTs) and Tanner McAvoy will split time under center.

"We've got two quarterbacks that I think are going to help this football team throughout the year, and whoever takes the first snap doesn't necessarily say he's going to be the guy for the whole season," Anderson said. "We've got two kids who want to compete and will continue to compete. That's where we're going to stay with it."

The quarterback duo will have to throw to an inexperienced crop of receivers. Jordan Fredrick is the top returning threat, and he only had 10 catches last year.

Defensively for the Badgers, the good news is that both its scoring (16.3 ppg) and total defense (305.1 ypg) ranked in the top-10 nationally last season, but the bad news is that only three starters from that outstanding unit are back this time around.

All three returnees are in the secondary. Michael Caputo was second on the team in tackles with 63 tackles. Sojour Shelton picked off four passes and Darius Hillary (30 tackles, INT, FF) was also solid.

LSU's pro-style offense was in top form last season, as the unit ranked sixth in the SEC in both scoring (35.8 ppg) and yardage (453.3 ypg), but it'll basically have to start from scratch in 2014 after losing quarterback Zach Mettenberger (3,082 yards, 22 TDs, eight INTs), running back Jeremy Hill (1,401 yards, 16 TDs) and receivers Odell Beckham Jr. (59 receptions, 1,152 yards, eight TDs) and Jarvis Landry (77 receptions, 1,193 yards, 10 TDs) to last spring's NFL Draft.

Replacing Mettenberger's production under center will be no easy task, and just like the Badgers, the Tigers will begin the season with a two-quarterback system, with Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris splitting reps.

"The quarterbacks are really competing," Miles said. "(Offensive Coordinator) Cam Cameron, a guy who's made a career mentoring quarterbacks, will do exactly the right things with those guys."

No one left on the roster caught more than seven passes a season ago. Travin Dural and Quantavius Leslie are listed as the starting wide receivers.

The Tigers had the good fortune of landing the consensus top offensive recruit this offseason in Leonard Fournette, who is considered one of the best running back prospects since Adrian Peterson. Terrence Magee (626 yards, eight TDs) and Kenny Hilliard (310 yards, seven TDs) will also figure prominently in the backfield.

Miles' teams are known for having top-notch defenses, and the 2013 version of the squad did not disappoint, ranking in the SEC's top five in both points allowed (22.0) and yards allowed (340.7 ypg). Just as it must on offense however, LSU will also need overcome a large turnover on the defensive side of the ball, as just five starters return.

Middle linebacker D.J. Welter is the senior leader of the group and is looking to improve upon a strong 2013 (80 tackles). Kwon Alexander (65 tackles) and Lamar Louis (25 tackles) round out the linebacking corps.

After a strong freshman season in a reserve role, Danielle Hunter (57 tackles, 8.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks) is poised for a breakout campaign with full-time snaps. Jermauria Rasco (6.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks) will line up at the other defensive end position.

Three sophomores will start in the secondary, including Tre'Davious White (55 tackles, two INTs).

There's plenty of uncertainty for both squads heading into the new season, especially under center, so whichever team comes out ahead in the turnover battle will have a big leg up in this one. Gordon is sure to get his carries to keep the Badgers in the game, but expect the Tigers to take advantage of Wisconsin's new-look, inexperienced defense to get out to a 1-0 start.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: LSU 27, Wisconsin 24

08/29 15:20:45 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14
 
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
Final
SFG 11
KAN 4
8:07pm Tonight
SFG
KAN
 
Final
WISC 52
MD 7
Final
SMU 10
MEM 48
Final
ILL 28
MINN 24
Final
RICE 41
UNT 21
Final
NEB 42
RUTG 24
Final
KST 23
TEX 0
Final
ARK 45
UAB 17
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
EMICH 17
NILL 28
Final
NAVY 41
SJST 31
Final
BST 35
AKR 21
Final
GASTATE 31
GASO 69
Final
TOL 42
UMASS 35
Final
WMICH 42
OHIO 21
Final
COL 37
UCLA 40
Final
UMO 10
KSU 3
Final
WAKE 17
BC 23
Final
BUF 14
CMICH 20
Final
MARS 35
FATL 16
Final
PITT 28
GT 56
Final
SMISS 20
LATU 31
Final
MSU 35
MICH 11
Final
KENT 31
MSST 45
Final
STAN 38
ORST 14
Final
TCU 82
TTU 27
Final
OKST 10
WVU 34
Final
WKENT 66
ODU 51
Final
UTST 34
UNLV 20
Final
MIZZ 24
VANDY 14
Final
UCF 34
TEMPL 14
Final
WASU 37
ARZ 59
Final
CLEM 16
SYR 6
Final
LAMON 18
TXST 22
Final
TXSANANTO 0
UTEP 34
Final
COLST 45
WYO 31
Final
LSU 10
MISS 7
Final
TENN 20
ALA 34
Final
AUB 42
SCAR 35
Final
PSU 24
OSU 31
Final
UTAH 24
USC 21
Final
WASH 10
ARST 24
4th
HAW 10
NEV 16
 
Final
SJS 1
BUF 2
Final
TOR 1
BOS 4
Final
NYI 7
DAL 5
Final
PHI 4
DET 2
Final
OTT 2
NJD 3
Final
MON 3
NYR 1
Final
STL 3
CHI 2
Final
NAS 0
PIT 3
Final
MIN 7
TAM 2
Final
ARI 2
FLA 1
Final
CAL 1
WAS 3
3:00pm Today
WIN
COL
 
4:00pm Today
LOS
CLB
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
OTT
 
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
SJS
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
WAS
 
9:30am Today
ATL
DET
1:00pm Today
CIN
BAL
1:00pm Today
NYJ
BUF
1:00pm Today
NEP
CHI
1:00pm Today
TEN
HOU
1:00pm Today
JAC
MIA
1:00pm Today
TAM
MIN
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
1:00pm Today
KAN
STL
4:05pm Today
ARI
PHI
4:25pm Today
PIT
IND
4:25pm Today
CLE
OAK
8:30pm Tonight
NOS
GBP
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14