By The Associated Press
Utah State (3-9) at No. 9 Wisconsin (11-3), Friday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN).
Line: Wisconsin by 31½.
Series record: Tied 1-1.
The Badgers open season at home for first the time since 2013. This opener against a Mountain West team coming off a poor season won’t be as tough as last year’s first game against LSU at Lambeau Field, so it might be important for Wisconsin to beat up on the Aggies and prevent a mark from going on their postseason resume with a less-than-convincing victory. Wisconsin will be working in a revamped a running back group and debuting new defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard.
Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook vs. Utah State pass defense. The Aggies were 11th nationally last season against the pass, allowing 176.5 yards a game. They return eight starters on defense, though they’ll still have some different looks with junior college transfers peppering the depth chart. After splitting time last season with senior Bart Houston, Hornibrook has the quarterback job to himself. He’s hoping to build on a promising freshman campaign.
Utah State: QB Kent Myers. The senior threw for 2,389 yards with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions, completing 58 percent of passes last year. He also ran for 449 yards and six touchdowns.
Wisconsin: RBs Chris James, Bradrick Shaw and Jonathan Taylor. The depth chart lists a three-way tie at the top. Freshman Taylor is a mild surprise to be in the mix. Shaw is a holdover from last year’s backfield and James is a transfer from Pittsburgh.
A meeting of teams which each used to be coached by Gary Andersen, who worked in Logan from 2009-12 before moving to Madison for two seasons. Andersen then left Wisconsin for the Oregon State job after the 2014 season. … Aggies are 5-54 against ranked teams, but have won four of last eight games including a 52-26 victory at home against Boise State in 2015. … Leonhard, a former NFL safety and Wisconsin star, makes his debut at his alma mater as coordinator after coaching the Badgers’ defensive backs last season.
More AP college football: and