Badgers schedule home-and-home with USF
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin's football team continues to bolster its nonconference schedule with teams from power-six conferences as it positions itself for the NCAA's newly formatted postseason playoff in 2014.
On Friday, Wisconsin officials announced the scheduling of a home-and-home series with South Florida. The Bulls will travel to face the Badgers on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin will return the favor with a game on Sept. 16, 2017 in Tampa, Fla.
"We obviously recruit a lot in the state of Florida, and these games will be great for our exposure down there," Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said in a statement. "USF is traditionally a strong program, so it's exciting to get a quality opponent on the schedule for our players and the fans."
Currently, there are 10 players on Wisconsin's spring practice roster from Florida, including three starters — running back James White, safety Dezmen Southward and cornerback Peniel Jean.
South Florida finished just 3-9 last season, including 1-6 in the Big East, and compiled its worst record in the 16-year history of the program. The Bulls fired head coach Skip Holtz, who was replaced by Willie Taggart. South Florida hasn't finished with a winning record in each of the past two seasons. But before that stretch, the Bulls appeared in six consecutive bowl games. They also have won at least eight games in five of the past seven seasons.
Wisconsin hasn't finalized its schedule for 2014 just yet, but the Badgers will open the season with a road game against Washington State on Aug. 30. There are currently two consecutive open dates before Wisconsin plays host to Bowling Green and then South Florida. In all likelihood, expect the fourth nonconference game to be against another FBS opponent.
UW athletic director Barry Alvarez has said he no longer is interested in pursuing games against FCS teams because they either aren't competitive or don't provide the Badgers a boost in the strength of schedule department. That will become particularly important beginning in 2014, when the NCAA adopts a four-team playoff to determine the national champion. Strength of schedule will factor heavily into which teams earn their way into the playoff.
Last month, Wisconsin announced it would open the 2015 season against Alabama at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Wisconsin will play at Virginia Tech in 2016 and have a return game at home with the Hokies in 2017.
Alvarez told CBSSports.com on Friday that Big Ten chancellors and presidents would vote on and likely approve a nine-game Big Ten schedule beginning in 2016. That move, which could be decided as early as next week, would seem to all but eliminate the need to play an FCS opponent because Big Ten teams would have only three nonconference games each season. Alvarez indicated he would prefer to playing two BCS teams and one from a smaller FBS conference.
According to CBSSports.com, the nine-game schedule could also force teams to sacrifice an extra league home game every other year. Traditionally, Big Ten teams have played seven home games, but that will become more difficult in years when a team must play five conference road games instead of four.
Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter.