The Big Ten is making a push for teams to beef up their non-conference schedules with the impending college football playoff system on its way. Already, the conference announced that there would be no more FCS opponents for non-conference tune-up games and is encouraging its programs to reach out and schedule marquee games against other conference powers. The Wisconsin Badgers are close to following through on that edict and could bring the LSU Tigers to Lambeau Field in the very near future.
According to LSU athletics director Joe Alleva, the two programs are close to finalizing a deal that would have the teams play twice in neutral-site games. The working plan is for Wisconsin and LSU to tangle in Houston’s Reliant Stadium in 2014 and for the Tigers to come north to Green Bay at some point between 2016 and 2018, with the likeliest year being 2017. The two schools have been working on an agreement for some time, but finally appear to close to finalizing it.
This agreement would be a sort of “home-and-home” series with LSU without either program having to go into the very hostile environment of the other team’s home stadium. It also provides a much more lucrative revenue split in each game when done at a neutral site, normally falling between $3-4 million for each side. It will also bolster Wisconsin’s strength of schedule and give the Big Ten an opportunity to take the SEC down a peg on the field.
But the real winner in this scenario is college football fans. Too often, the early season slate of games is barely watchable as big time programs pile on overmatched smaller programs to work out the kinks before they hit their conference schedule. Marquee matchups between the major conferences is a major boost to the watchability of games in early September.
So who comes out on top when LSU and Wisconsin face off?