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Tesalon Felicien | | September 3, 2014

Game of the week

  LSU and Wisconsin feature dynamic running backs in Terrence Magee and Melvin Gordon.

The last time LSU and Wisconsin took to the gridiron, Richard Nixon was in office, with the Tigers winning that 1972 contest 27-7. Forty-two years later, the two return to face off in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff on Saturday.

As one should expect, many things have changed since the teams last met. The new College Football Playoff debuts this season and both teams look to enter the postseason unblemished. And with Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller out for the season, the Badgers are among the favorites to win the Big Ten after a 9-4 showing last year under second-year head coach Gary Anderson.

Coach Les Miles and his Tigers finished 8-3 last season -- good for third in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers look to add on to their impressive non-conference history as LSU has won an FBS-record 45 consecutive regular-season non-conference games since 2002.

Both teams have many unanswered questions heading into Saturday’s game.

Quarterback and receiver

Anderson and Miles have been tight-lipped about their starting quarterbacks for much of the preseason.  Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy have dueled all summer and reports lead to McEvoy getting the starting nod.  McEvoy struggled last season and was moved to safety, playing in 10 games and starting in three of them. Stave, who started all 13 games last year, led the team with 2,114 yards passing and 20 touchdowns, but sustained a shoulder injury in the Capital One Bowl loss to South Carolina.

The Badgers must also replace the production of receiver Jared Abbrederis, who led the team with 1,051 yards and seven touchdowns. Upperclassmen receivers Jordan Frederick and Kenzel Doe will try to fill that production.

LSU also has quarterback needs with the departure of Zach Mettenberger to the NFL. While sophomore Anthony Jennings started for an injured Mettenberger last year in the Outback Bowl, true freshman Brandon Harris outshined Jennings during this year’s spring game. The Tigers also need to find replacements for decorated receiving-duo, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, who combined for 18 touchdowns last season.

Defensive line and linebacker

  Wisconsin's S. Shelton anticipates breakout season.
LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis must retool a young but talented defense with its most notable issues on the defensive line. Chavis breaks-in two inexperienced defensive tackles in redshirt freshman Frank Herron and 300-pound sophomore Christian LaCourtoure.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s senior-laden team lost seven defensive starters last season. The Badgers replaced Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Chris Borland and six other positions in the starting front seven. Defensive backs Sojourn Shelton and Darius Hillary are expected to carry the unit.

Offensive line and running back

Both teams feature dominant offensive lines and running backs. Badger running back Melvin Gordon, a Heisman hopeful, ran for 12 touchdowns and 1,466 yards last season. Tigers senior Terrence Magee is expected to share carries with Kenny Hilliard and highly touted freshman Leonard Fournette.  

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