The first line of Wisconsin's news release Friday afternoon summed it up perfectly: After months of speculation, it is finally official.
Indeed, Badgers fans, you can finally book those tickets to Houston to watch Wisconsin kick off the 2014 season against LSU at Reliant Stadium on Aug. 31, 2014. Wisconsin's board of regents on Friday signed off on the game, the first of three blockbuster neutral-site season openers against SEC powers. The Badgers open the 2015 season against Alabama at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The Wisconsin-LSU matchup has been in the works for months, and we expected an official announcement a long time ago.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for us to open next season against one of the best programs in the country," Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen said in a prepared statement. "We want to compete at the highest level and on a national stage, and this game is a great example of that."
There will be a second Wisconsin-LSU game, in 2016 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., but it has yet to become official.
Wisconsin and LSU have played only twice before, with LSU winning matchups in 1971 and 1972. The Badgers' 2014 non-league schedule also includes home matchups against Western Illinois (Sept. 6), Bowling Green (Sept. 20) and South Florida (Sept. 27).
Needless to say, these are excellent additions for Wisconsin, a very good program that wants the chance to be great and crack the field of four in the College Football Playoff. Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez understands the value that schedule strength will have for the Playoff selection committee.
After years of living in cupcake city, Wisconsin is stepping up to face the big boys. Good to see.