Line: Wisconsin by 35½.
Series record: Wisconsin leads 1-0.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Western Kentucky’s dreams of beating a Big Ten team for the first time in school history. Wisconsin has more modest goals, like developing confidence in younger receivers who will have to step up with the suspensions of Quintez Cephus and Danny Davis. Give star running back Jonathan Taylor’s season a fast start. Get the process started of meshing seven new starters on a typically rock-solid defense.
Western Kentucky secondary vs. Wisconsin receivers. The Badgers have a decided advantage in talent, while Western Kentucky is one of the youngest teams in the country with just 10 seniors on the roster. The most experience is in the secondary, where the Hilltoppers have four players with at least 10 starts. Sophomore walk-ons Adam Krumholz and Jack Dunn are backing up the more experienced A.J. Taylor and Kendric Pryor to replenish Wisconsin’s depth sapped by the suspensions.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Western Kentucky: QB Drew Eckels. The fifth-year senior will make his first career start, though he will be protected by a relatively inexperienced line that could include three sophomores.
Wisconsin: Taylor could be in for another big season after running for 1,977 yards last year, an FBS record for a freshman. He also has five returning starters paving the way on the offensive line.
FACTS & FIGURES
Western Kentucky beginning 100th season of football. … Eckels just fourth different opening-day starting QB since 2010. … Offense averaged 60.8 yards per game in 2017, worst among 130 FBS teams. … Hilltoppers 0-7 are all-time against Big Ten schools. … Wisconsin won 24-6 in Madison on Sept. 29, 2001, in only previous meeting between schools. … Badgers QB Alex Hornibrook is 20-3 as starter. … Wisconsin has won 22 straight home openers. … Badgers’ projected starting OL has combined to play in 141 games, with 132 starts. … Wisconsin’s defense is allowing just 240.1 yards per game at home over last five years, best mark in FBS.