MADISON - The Wisconsin Badgers have developed a reputation for scheduling weak non-conference teams over the last few years. A multitude of FCS teams and non-BCS opponents have trudged through Camp Randall Stadium, more often than not giving the Badgers nothing more than warm-up games for the Big Ten conference season.
But the Badgers departed from that recent history in a big way Wednesday when they announced that they would take on the Alabama Crimson Tide on Sept. 5, 2015. The two teams will play at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which also hosted a game between the Crimson Tide and the Michigan Wolverines last season. Alabama now has a neutral site opening game scheduled for the next three years.
"As a league we decided that we needed to upgrade our non-conference schedule," Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a press release. "We understand that strength of schedule will be a factor in determining which teams earn the right to participate in the new four-team playoff system and we want to be in that mix."
With the new college football playoff set to start during the 2014 season, many other Big Ten teams have scheduled top-tier non-conference games in hopes of boosting their strength of schedule. Ohio State has home-and-home series scheduled with Oklahoma, TCU, and Oregon already, while Michigan has scheduled a series with Arkansas.
And with Alabama winning three of the last four BCS national championship games, its clear the Badgers could get a big boost from playing the Tide in 2015 if both teams remain competitive in the future.
"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to play a storied program like Alabama in a terrific venue like Cowboys Stadium. It will be a great experience for our program, our players and our fans," Alvarez said.
New Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen also said he was excited at the prospect of kicking off the college football season and getting a chance to show off his program to the country.
"It's a tremendous opportunity for the University of Wisconsin, a tremendous opportunity to kick off the college football season," Andersen said after practice Wednesday. "That's a memory that the kids will have forever, regardless of the opponent."
Time and broadcast information for the game has not been announced, but it's highly likely the game will air in primetime. The Badgers were also scheduled to host the Washington State Cougars on Sept. 5 of that year to complete a home-and-home series with them, but it's unclear when or if that game is still on the table for the Badgers.
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