Badger season-opener today in MadisonWisconsin Sports
--The two teams had similar records last season, but the University of Wisconsin is still a heavy favorite in the season opener at Camp Randall Stadium this afternoon against the University of Northern Iowa.
MADISON - The two teams had similar records last season, but Wisconsin is still a heavy favorite in the season opener at Camp Randall Stadium this afternoon against the University of Northern Iowa.
The Badgers finished 11-3, while Northern Iowa was 10-3 – and the Panthers have a reputation as giant killers, showing no intimidation when they play the big guys. UNI gets $450,000 dollars for showing up today, but the team’s history indicates it won’t be all that easy for the home-standing Badgers as UNI has beaten Iowa State before and threw a big scare into Iowa a few seasons ago.
The odds are still stacked against the visitors in the game with a 2:30 p.m. kickoff on BTN. It’s been more than two years and 16 games since Wisconsin lost on its home turf. Half of its 22 starters return from an outstanding season culminating with a Rose Bowl appearance. And, Heisman Trophy candidate Montee Ball leads the way. He’ll get more than a little help from pre-season, third-team All-American linebacker Chris Borland. The game will be the first meeting between the Badgers and the Panthers.
Wisconsin defensive end David Gilbert says he cannot wait to get on the field for today's season opener, when the Badgers host FCS opponent Northern Iowa. Gilbert missed the Badgers’ final 10 games a year ago when he broke a foot in practice. And the junior says he gets goose bumps just thinking about playing alongside senior Brendan Kelly on the Wisconsin line tomorrow. The 6-4, 250-pound Gilbert had three sacks in four games last year before his injury. He tried coming back for the Rose Bowl, but he broke the foot again while practicing on a scout team. That caused him to miss the spring practices this year – but he made it through the August pre-season camp okay. Gilbert says he has some bumps and bruises, but he’s raring to go. Also, junior Zac Matthias will start at right guard tomorrow – and sophomore Kyle Costigan will get some playing time there as well. Both had topped the depth chart released on Monday. Also, coach Bret Bielema said tight end Brock DeCicco and reserve running back Kyle Zuleger have been given full scholarships. That puts Wisconsin at its maximum of 85 for this season.
Montee Ball says he knows the spotlight will be on him when the Wisconsin football team opens its season against Northern Iowa at Camp Randall Stadium today. Ball, a finalist for the Heisman Trophy a year ago, was assaulted by five men on Aug. 1 after he attended a party four days earlier in which a couple of his Badger teammates got into a brawl. Ball was also ticketed in the spring for trespassing at a Madison house during the Mifflin Street Block Party. The senior said he has dealt with a lot during the summer but quote, “When adversity strikes, you’ve got to respond.” Ball tied Barry Sanders’ NCAA single season record with 39 touchdowns a year ago. And he says a big day against Northern Iowa would help him move forward and get on with his life. The Badgers are ranked 12th in the Bowl Championship Subdivision, while Northern Iowa is ranked seventh in a preseason poll among FCS teams in the former Division-One-Double-“A.” Ball said Northern Iowa is a good team, and the Badgers need to approach the Panthers the same way they would approach a game against Michigan State or Ohio State. Tomorrow also marks the official Badger debuts of six new assistant coaches, who came in after several assistants followed ex-Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst to Pittsburgh when he became the head coach there.