LSU Tigers: Wisconsin Badgers

Five questions about LSU-Wisconsin

August, 28, 2014
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One of college football’s most anticipated openers will kick off Saturday night in Houston, with No. 13 LSU taking on No. 14 Wisconsin -- two programs that might reside in different conferences, but share similar philosophies about playing mean-spirited, physical football.

Both teams have aspirations of competing in the inaugural College Football Playoff, and Saturday’s outcome might eventually rank among the top determining factors in whether they make it into the four-team field.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at five questions facing the two teams as their matchup approaches.

[+] EnlargeTerrence Magee
Crystal LoGiudice/USA TODAY SportsSenior Terrence Magee should be a key piece to LSU's running game this season.
1. Who gets the most carries?

Those around the LSU program say it looks like it’s only a matter of time before freshman running back Leonard Fournette shows why he was the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit. But will Fournette’s time come in this game? LSU coach Les Miles has praised veterans Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard throughout August. The seniors have earned their touches, too, so it will be intriguing to observe how LSU distributes the carries between the vets and the young phenom.

2. How will LSU fare in the passing game?

Wisconsin has plenty of holes to fill on defense, but the one area with a veteran presence is its secondary (and the Badgers were 17th nationally against the pass last season, allowing 202.5 yards per game). That would seem like an advantage against an LSU offense that must replace not only its quarterback, but the only receivers who did much of anything last fall, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry.

The Tigers have some super-talented youngsters like freshmen Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn, but many of the team’s wideouts will be playing their first college games. Keep an eye on whether LSU uses its talented group of tight ends and running backs in the passing game. The tight ends will almost certainly get more looks as pass-catchers in 2014 while the young quarterbacks and receivers settle into their roles.

3. Can either team stop the opponent’s run?

Wisconsin obliterated South Carolina’s run defense for 293 yards in its last outing, a 34-24 loss in the Capital One Bowl. Heisman Trophy contender Melvin Gordon ran 25 times for 143 yards in that game. So it would probably be misguided to assume that LSU’s reconstructed front seven is going to completely shut down a Badgers running game that includes Gordon, Corey Clement and four returning starters on the offensive line.

Likewise, Wisconsin lost its entire starting front seven on defense, so the Badgers will probably have some difficulty against an LSU line that also returns four starters -- particularly since backs like Fournette, Magee and Hilliard will be running behind them.

4. How will Wisconsin look up front on D?

Let’s say this one more time: Wisconsin lost every single starter along the defensive line and at linebacker from one of the nation’s best defenses in 2013. We’re talking about standouts like Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Chris Borland and defensive linemen Beau Allen and Ethan Hemer who helped Wisconsin finish as the nation’s No. 7 defense overall (305.1 ypg) and No. 5 against the run (102.5).

It’s not like the cupboard is bare, though. ESPN Big Ten blogger Brian Bennett listed sophomore linebacker Vince Biegel as a potential playmaker, and the Badgers have others back like linebackers Marcus Trotter and Derek Landisch and defensive linemen Warren Herring and redshirt freshman Chikwe Obasih who should keep defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s 3-4 defense clicking.

Asking that many new players to function adequately against a veteran LSU front will be asking a lot, though. Wisconsin’s production along the defensive front might be the determining factor in this game.

5. Who FINISHES at quarterback?

Never mind who starts, who’s going to finish this game at quarterback for either team? That might have a much greater impact on this season than who takes the first snaps for either Wisconsin or LSU.

Miles and Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen have tiptoed around questions asking whether the starting quarterback will be Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris at LSU or Joel Stave or Tanner McEvoy at Wisconsin. But if this is a close game, their choices on who leads their offenses in the fourth quarter -- and how those players perform in such a situation -- might tell us much more about where these competitions are headed.
College coaches and recruits are always quick to proclaim their school as the best at developing certain positions. Whether it’s DBU or Linebacker U, recruits have a definite perception of which school stands out at their position.

Prospects from across the country were polled on which school has been the best at developing each position over the past 10 years. Did your school make the list?

States of strength: Texas RBs 

May, 15, 2014
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When it comes to running backs, the state of Texas is loaded. Ten running backs represent the Lone Star State in the ESPN 300. Of those 10, five are committed. A total of seven running backs in the state have reported FBS commitments.

ESPN 300 RBs from the state:

No. 50 Ronald Jones II: Ranked the nation’s No. 3 running back, Jones is an explosive, game-changing back who -- as scary as it might sound -- will only get better. Jones committed to Oklahoma State on April 6 and finished his junior season with more than 2,400 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns.


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The state of Florida has always been known for producing some of the top athletes in the country. The term "athlete" is sometimes looked at as a negative term, but it really means our scouts believe these talented prospects could play more than one position in college. Here is a closer look at some of the top athletes from the Sunshine State in the 2015 class.

ESPN 300 athletes from Florida

No. 8 Torrance Gibson: Gibson is a skilled athlete who can make plays on offense. The five-star athlete led his high school, Plantation American Heritage, to the state championship game. In the game, he had a touchdown run of 80 yards and also a long touchdown pass that was among the "SportsCenter" Top 10 plays. He wants to play quarterback on the next level, but he’s the most talented wide receiver on his South Florida Express 7-on-7 team. Whatever position he chooses, Gibson has a bright future ahead of him.


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We know a good idea when we see it. And with all apologies to our good friends at the Big Ten Blog, we’re going to steal one of theirs.

It’s time to plan your road trips.

Get your calendars out and your travel agents on the telephone. The football season is a few months away and you need to know where you’re going in the SEC from week to week.

This series, beginning today and then running every Monday for the next 13 weeks, will give you a rundown of the league’s action and we'll make our pick for the top one or two matchups.

So without further ado, let’s begin with Week 1 and a look at the schedule.

Saturday, Aug. 30
Ole Miss vs. Boise State (in Atlanta), Thursday, Aug. 28
Texas A&M at South Carolina -- Aug. 28
Temple at Vanderbilt -- Aug. 28
Alabama vs. West Virginia (in Atlanta)
Arkansas at Auburn
Idaho at Florida
Clemson at Georgia
UT Martin at Kentucky
LSU vs. Wisconsin (in Houston)
Southern Miss at Mississippi State
South Dakota State at Missouri
Utah State at Tennessee -- Sunday, Aug. 31

Alex Scarborough’s pick: Texas A&M at South Carolina

Welcome to the new SEC Network. And what a game it gets to kick things off.

Not only do we get to see the Head Ball Coach stalking the sideline for the Gamecocks once again, we get our first glimpse at Johnny Manziel’s heir apparent at quarterback -- whoever that may be. It might be unclear now who starts under center for the Aggies, but I’m giving coach Kevin Sumlin the benefit of the doubt. With promising receivers Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil, a stable of tailbacks led by Tra Carson and Trey Williams and a solid line that returns tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, the offense should be fine. The defense ... I’m not so sure. I was in Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and it wasn’t pretty.

South Carolina, on the other hand, will be without Jadeveon Clowney. But the defense under Lorenzo Ward should be fine. And, besides, the offense should be plenty of fun to watch. Dylan Thompson looks to be a capable replacement for Connor Shaw at quarterback, and he’ll have plenty of weapons to work with. Not only is Mike Davis back to 100 percent, he’s joined by an enviable group of running backs that include Brandon Wilds, Shon Carson and David Williams. Receivers Pharoh Cooper and Shaq Roland weren’t household names last season, but watch out, because their stars are on the rise.

So while it’s tempting to skirt the rules, double-dip and spend a few days in Atlanta for Ole Miss-Boise State and Alabama-West Virginia, I’ll stick to the script and hope to land in Columbia for the SEC’s season opening game.

Edward Aschoff's pick: LSU vs. Wisconsin (in Houston)

While I like your decision to go with the SEC opener, I have to shift gears and look at one of the three neutral-site games that features an SEC team taking on another member of the Power 5. The two games in Atlanta should be very fun to watch, but I’m going with LSU vs. Wisconsin down in Houston. These are the kinds of games I hope we will see more of starting in 2016, and this one has a lot of intrigue in the Lone Star State.

For starters, we really don’t know a ton about this LSU team. Are the Tigers rebuilding or reloading after another mass exodus from Baton Rouge? Who is going to be the starting quarterback? Will Terrence Magee hold things down at running back, or will we see more of newcomer Leonard Fournette? And what will be the identity of this new-look LSU defense?

The possibilities really are endless for the Tigers, but there are also plenty of questions for the Badgers as well. There’s yet another quarterback battle in Madison, but running back Melvin Gordon is still around, so you know the Tigers defense will be keying on him. Watching him go toe-to-toe with LSU’s fast and athletic defense should make plenty of people go, “Wow!”

I will say that while we are still unsure what this LSU team will look like this fall, we all know that Les Miles always has his guys ready to play in Week 1 in these kinds of games. Miles is 3-0 at LSU in season-opening, neutral-site games against power-conference opponents. The atmosphere won’t unnerve them, and neither will be the sight of Wisconsin’s jerseys.

With all the uncertainty surrounding both teams, I think we are in for a great punch-you-in-the-mouth opener to the 2014 season.
CLIFTON, Va. -- Five-star defensive tackle Tim Settle, No. 10 in the ESPN 300, will not be making an early commitment, that much has been known from the start. What is also known about Settle is that he intends to go through the entire process and take all five of his official visits.

What wasn’t known is that Settle has started to think about what schools will make the cut.

“I’m going to trim it down in August to 14,” said Settle, who earned an invitation to The Opening Saturday after a stellar performance at the Nike Football Training Camp at Centreville High School in Clifton, Va. “The reason I’m going to trim it down in August is two-a-days and getting ready for the season. I don’t want a lot of pressure on me. I just want to play and have fun my senior season.


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Army Bowl notebook: Dec. 31 

December, 31, 2013
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SAN ANTONIO -- The second day of practice for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl -- on the last day of 2013 -- has come to a conclusion. Here is Tuesday’s notebook featuring some of the nation’s elite athletes:

LB Williams: Law and order equals '98 percent'


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The 2016 LSU-Wisconsin game at Lambeau Field could become official on Friday, when the University of Wisconsin board of regents is expected on to approve a contract for the contest.


The game has been in the works for months, and the two schools agreed to a contract for two-game series back in August. The Tigers and Badgers already officially announced that they will open the 2014 season at Houston's Reliant Stadium.

The Wisconsin regents are meeting at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside campus and were expected to discuss the game contract in committee on Thursday night before voting on it Friday, a school official told ESPN.com. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that the Green Bay Packers would pay the Badgers $3 million for its first-ever game at Lambeau Field.

Video: Take your pick: Week 5

September, 27, 2013
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Robert Smith picks the winners of the biggest games in Week 5 of the college football season.
The first line of Wisconsin's news release Friday afternoon summed it up perfectly: After months of speculation, it is finally official.

Wisconsin BadgersIndeed, Badgers fans, you can finally book those tickets to Houston to watch Wisconsin kick off the 2014 season against LSU at Reliant Stadium on Aug. 31, 2014. Wisconsin's board of regents on Friday signed off on the game, the first of three blockbuster neutral-site season openers against SEC powers. The Badgers open the 2015 season against Alabama at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The Wisconsin-LSU matchup has been in the works for months, and we expected an official announcement a long time ago.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for us to open next season against one of the best programs in the country," Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen said in a prepared statement. "We want to compete at the highest level and on a national stage, and this game is a great example of that."

There will be a second Wisconsin-LSU game, in 2016 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., but it has yet to become official.

Wisconsin and LSU have played only twice before, with LSU winning matchups in 1971 and 1972. The Badgers' 2014 non-league schedule also includes home matchups against Western Illinois (Sept. 6), Bowling Green (Sept. 20) and South Florida (Sept. 27).

Needless to say, these are excellent additions for Wisconsin, a very good program that wants the chance to be great and crack the field of four in the College Football Playoff. Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez understands the value that schedule strength will have for the Playoff selection committee.

After years of living in cupcake city, Wisconsin is stepping up to face the big boys. Good to see.
ATHENS, Ga. -- For most high school players, the end of practice means they get a break from the incessant nagging and ceaseless instruction of their coaches. They go home, eat dinner, study and enjoy the respite until the whistles start blowing next time. For ESPN Watch List safety Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School), that is not the case.

Wilson’s father is the defensive coordinator and the defensive backs coach at the University School, so Wilson jokes that he gets no respite.

“Oh no, there’s no break, there’s no break,” Wilson said. “Monday through Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Yeah, I get it at practice, before practice, after practice, in the car, at the dinner table ...”

The talented junior laughed about the nonstop instruction but he also credited his father with making him the player he is today -- one of the most coveted safeties in Florida.


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Tigers 13th in Way-Too-Early Top 25

January, 8, 2013
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Alabama CheerleadersStreeter Lecka/Getty ImagesAlabama, with three of the past four national titles, is No. 1 in the Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2013.

There are still seven months before the start of the 2013 season, and the teams and their order figure to change frequently, but it's never too early to take a look at the Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2013.

And with three national championships in the past four years, there's no reason to change the team that's on top. With so many players leaving early for the NFL, LSU has some ground to make up at No. 13.

Also see:

#BlueChipBattles: Nov. 9

November, 9, 2012
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Max Redfield, Leon McQuayTom Hauck for ESPN.comMax Redfield is out at USC -- is Leon McQuay in?
Think USC was left reeling after Max Redfield (left) decommitted this week? Not really. The Trojans appear to be zeroing in on Leon McQuay III (right). And then there's the nation’s No. 1 recruit, Robert Nkemdiche, who decommitted Thursday. It's an open market in this week’s #BlueChipBattles Insider.

You can also rank the battles this week in SportsNation.

Process wide open for 2014 OT Andy Bauer 

November, 7, 2012
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The father of Andy Bauer (St. Louis/De Smet) told ESPN’s RecruitingNation Wednesday morning that the ESPN Watch List offensive tackle had decommitted from Missouri. The big question now: What’s next?

Craig Bauer said his son, a 6-foot-6, 305-pound tackle, was looking to explore all options and make a decision sometime in the spring of 2013. Bauer has more than 30 offers from FBS programs, including Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Florida State, Michigan, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Notre Dame. He also has looks from Oregon, USC and Wisconsin.

“Right now, he’s looking around and seeing what’s out there,” Craig Bauer said. “Missouri’s still high up there, but he’s looking at other options. Missouri’s cool with him doing this. They want him to make the right decision.”

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#BlueChipBattles: Nov. 2

November, 2, 2012
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RecruitingNation has summoned its writers from around the country to compile a list of the top 10 battles for elite football recruits Insider leading up to February's signing day. We'll update our rankings periodically to reflect a change in a player's status (i.e., new offers, trimmed-down list or a positive/negative official visit).

Our writers have debated the list for weeks, but we value your input as well. Voice your opinion on Twitter (@RecruitingESPN) using#BlueChipBattles or vote for which player should hold the No. 1 spot on Facebook.

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