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Copyright 2014 Journal Sentinel Inc.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Wisconsin)
JEFF POTRYKUS, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Gary Andersen knows Wisconsin's season-opener against LSU on Aug. 30 in Houston has created a buzz in the UW locker room.

"I think it gives the kids an edge," he said during the Big Ten preseason meetings this week. "They know that they're going to play in an NFL stadium....It's going to feel like a bowl game....

"Quite frankly, it gives the coaches an edge, too."

Andersen, entering his second season at UW, understands some fans might not be as giddy, but only because the 2014 game is in Houston and the return game in 2016 is at Lambeau Field.

"Our fans would love the opportunity to play that game at Camp Randall," he said. "Quite frankly, I don't think that game would ever happen at Camp Randall."

According to Andersen, UW athletic director Barry Alvarez got the ball rolling with an open mind regarding the location of the games.

"Coach Alvarez did a great job of starting the whole conversation of getting this game," he said. "And as it went forward it was very obvious that if we were going to play these games, they were going to get played on a neutral field."

LSU recently completed a home-and-home agreement with Washington, but the Tigers have faced TCU and Oregon at AT&T Stadium in Texas. LSU officials wanted to play in Houston because of the school's large alumni base in the area.

"Coach came to me with it," Andersen said, referring to Alvarez. "I was all in favor of it. You would love to play in Camp Randall....I'm just happy we have the game.

"It's going to be a great environment for our kids, and for the young kids to play that high of a level of competition, we're going to find out real early how many of those young kids can hang in there."

UW opens the 2015 season against Alabama, in Arlington, Texas.

"We'll always try to get one of those (marquee) games - I'm not always saying a neutral site," Andersen said. "But I'm saying one of these big-time games."

Soft schedule? Andersen didn't care for the first question he faced at the meetings.

A reporter asked whether Andersen and his assistants felt lucky to have an easier schedule given the youth of the roster.

UW's 2014 schedule has been labeled soft because of the absence of East Division foes Michigan State and Ohio State and the presence of nonconference foes Western Illinois and South Florida.

"First of all, I think the schedule is challenging," Andersen said, noting UW opens with LSU and hosts Bowling Green, picked to win the Mid-American Conference for the second consecutive season. "People can say whatever they want about this or that, but we have a great schedule that's highly competitive and we're playing very good teams out of (conference).

"Then we get into the Big Ten. So there is no easy Big Ten games. Anybody who thinks there is is sadly mistaken."

Four-team playoff:

The BCS is gone, replaced by a four-team playoff this season.

The national semifinals will be played Dec. 31 at the Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl. The national title game is set for Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas.

"I think the ability to have a semifinal game and then turn around and play a championship game is one more big, big-time moment in college football," Andersen said. "It won't change how we operate. The amount of games could change. I guess you could go plus-one if you had to play in a championship game.

"But I think everybody would be pretty happy if you're going to play one more game and if it was for the championship."

Weighty matters:

Rob Havenstein, a fifth-year senior offensive tackle, carries 330 pounds on his 6-foot-8 frame. Havenstein weighed 380 when he arrived at UW in 2010.

"I'm making 330 look good," he joked.

Meanwhile fifth-year senior defensive lineman Warren Herring weighed in at 285. That is up 65 from his freshman year but down 13 from his weight of 298 when he reported for camp last year.

"I was afraid to step on the scale," Herring joked about his weight last season. "I thought I would pop like a can of biscuits."

Recruiting update:

UW on Sunday received an oral commitment for its 2015 class from Dominic Sheppard, a 6-2, 220-pound linebacker from Miami.

Sheppard, who will be a senior at Gulliver Prep, reportedly had offers from Ohio State, Miami, Alabama, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and more than a dozen other schools.


July 30, 2014




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