MADISON, Wis. - Fall camp seems like a distant memory now as the Wisconsin Badgers wrapped up their final practice in Madison before their first game of the season.
The Badgers will fly down to Houston a day early before they take on LSU in the Advocare Texas Kickoff at 8 p.m. CST on Saturday, and Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen said he likes where his team is at with just over two days to go until his second Badger team takes the field.
"It's great to be in the position we're at now," Andersen said Thursday after practice. "The kids are ready. They're excited. I'm just excited to go out and watch them play. It's fun to get to this point, and we'll get a really good idea of where we're at like what I've said many times."
Wisconsin's game against LSU is the first of several attempts by the Badgers to beef up their non-conference scheduling. With the College Football Playoff set to replace the Bowl Championship Series this winter the Badgers scheduled two games with LSU to kick off their 2014 and 2016 seasons, and another with Alabama, who they will take on at this time next year.
Time will tell if taking on one of the SEC's heavy weights pays off for the Badgers as they pursue another Big Ten championship and a bid in the College Football Playoff, but for now Andersen said he's excited to see how his team will stack up in this game and the rest of their games to come.
"I like this team, I like the way they carry themselves," Andersen said. "We'll get down to business and see where we sit. Round one is coming at us, [and] we're guaranteed a 12 round fight. We're going to fight like crazy in round one and see what happens."
News and notes:
The Badgers are going to bring 85 players down to Houston, 15 more than their usual travel roster of 70 players. Andersen said athletic director Barry Alvarez was flexible in allowing them to bring more players than usual, which will allow a young roster to get introduced to road games a little ahead of schedule.
"I think it will be tremendous for this young football team to just get in the moment," Andersen said.
Andersen again didn't comment on whether Tanner McEvoy or Joel Stave would start against the Tigers, but he credited both players with handling the quarterback battle well throughout the fall.
"There's ups and downs as you go through things, but like I've said all along: they're two great kids, and they've continued to handle the situation well," Andersen said. "We're as comfortable as we can be. Now we've got to go out and see where we sit on the football field."
Overall, the Badgers are heading down to Houston about as healthy as they could expect to be. It sounds like their key players on defense like Derek Landisch, Marcus Trotter should all be good to go. That's a big boost for a team that had quite a few nagging injuries to deal with midway through fall camp.
John Veldhuis covers Wisconsin football, basketball and recruiting for BadgerBlitz.com on the Rivals.com network. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnVeldhuis.