College football is finally back, and the No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers kick off their season Friday in hot and humid Florida, against the South Florida Bulls.
The Badgers open the season outside of Wisconsin for the first time since 2015, when they opened against Alabama at a neutral site. You would have to go back to 2010 for the last time the Badgers opened the year with a true road game.
South Florida the team will be difficult enough for the Badgers to face off against, but the location poses a unique challenge for Wisconsin as well. At kickoff, the forecast calls for it to be 91 degrees, with a 40% chance of thunderstorms and 75% humidity, which is far different than the usual football weather in Madison.
South Florida’s team will be a different test than usual for Wisconsin, because usually the Badgers open up against a cupcake team who are projected to lose by 30+ points. USF on the other hand is a talented team that started out their 2018 season going 7-0.
The Bulls brought in a new offensive coordinator, Kerwin Bell, the previous head coach of Division II Valdosta State. Bell led them to a national championship, an undefeated record and an explosive offensive attack that led the nation in scoring and set division II record for points scored in a season in his three years at the school.
At Valdosta State, he ran a very quarterback friendly spread attack, that could translate well to USF’s returning starter Blake Barnett. At USF, Bell will have a talented offense that will return their leading rusher and receiver from 2018, and a talented tight end, Mitchell Wilcox, who racked up 43 catches and 540 yards.
Wisconsin will look to put 2018 in the past and return to the team they were in 2017 with had playoff aspirations. They start a new era with Jack Coan under center, a player who emphasized the importance of the offence having a more balanced attack this year. The team is also welcoming back dynamic receiver Quintez Cephus who last saw the field in early November at Indiana and had racked up over 500 yards to that point before suffering a right leg injury.
When you think of Wisconsin football, you think of a ground and pound attack led by star back Jonathan Taylor. This Friday it should be no different. USF allowed nearly 250 yards per game on the ground and Wisconsin should take full advantage of that.
The Badgers and their fans are just excited to get back to playing real football. “It’s great that we finally get a chance to go against someone else,” said junior wide receiver Kendric Pryor.
Kickoff is at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN.