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Shamrock Series uniforms will be part of Notre Dame-Wisconsin tilt at NFL stadiums

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Despite two tradition-rich college football programs, the upcoming Notre Dame and Wisconsin series three years from now will be a little light on the tradition part.

The two schools confirmed on Monday that they would play each other in a so-called “neutral site home-and-home” series, meeting at Lambeau Field in 2020 and Soldier Field in 2021. As you should expect in a pair of games involving two schools outfitted by apparel company Under Armour though, the Badgers and Irish will each have new uniforms for the matchup and that will specifically fall under the banner of the ‘Shamrock Series’ group of threads per Notre Dame’s athletic director.

Those games have led to some of the more… um, interesting uniforms for the Irish in recent years and have featured plenty of different variations of the school’s traditional blue and gold look. The team took on Army in San Antonio, Tex. as part of their ‘Shamrock Series’ last season (see photo above) and played Boston College at Fenway Park back in 2015.

The school will not have a game under the Shamrock Series banner in 2017 with the focus being on a renovated Notre Dame Stadium, but it certainly seems as though it is not going away and will soon move to two of the NFL’s most hallowed football fields in the not too distant future.

Also interesting to note is that Notre Dame will be the “home” team at Lambeau Field and not Wisconsin as part of Monday’s agreement. That game will be on NBC as a result in 2020, while the Badgers will be the hosts at Soldier Field in a came that will fall under the Big Ten’s television deals (read Fox or ABC/ESPN). While it will certainly be thrilling to see the two teams play each other when the time comes, one may not recognize either side’s uniforms without a proper reminder.

Notre Dame-Wisconsin neutral site home-and-home all but official

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Notre Dame and Wisconsin are set to meet in a 2-game series that will be played in Chicago and Green Bay. The present is wrapped, all that’s needed now is the bow.

The two schools have separately announced a “major football scheduling announcement” Monday featuring Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick, Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez and representatives from the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. The announcement will be made at Chicago’s Under Armour Brand House. (Both schools wear UA.)

Additionally, Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune has reported that the Fighting Irish will meet at Lambeau Field in 2020 and Soldier Field in 2021. After months of rumors, all that’s left now are the exact dates the pair will meet, boiler plate quotes from all involved and the series logo featuring the Under Armour logo. Expect each side to roll out commemorative uniforms for each game, perhaps with Packers flare for the Lambeau game and Bears themes for the Soldier Field tilt.

Wisconsin pioneered the neutral site home-and-home, “visiting” LSU at Houston’s NRG Stadium to open the 2014 season with the Tigers returning the favor at Lambeau to open last season. Notre Dame has played in Chicago a number of times over the years — most recently a 41-3 whipping of Miami in 2012 — but never in Green Bay.

Notre Dame and Wisconsin have met 16 times previously, though not at all since 1964. The Irish hold an 8-6-2 lead and won the most recent meeting, 31-7 in Madison. The Irish and Badgers have played once in Chicago previously, a 19-0 Notre Dame victory on Oct. 19, 1929.

Wisconsin announces starting LB Jack Cichy has torn ACL, will miss entire 2017 season

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This one is a significant and brutal blow for the Badgers and their defense.

Wisconsin announced Thursday that starting inside linebacker Jack Cichy has been diagnosed with a torn ACL in his right knee that he suffered during practice Tuesday.  Surgery to repair the damage is scheduled to be performed Friday.

As a result of the injury and subsequent surgery and rehab, the fifth-year senior will miss the entire 2017 season.

“You hate it for Jack,” head coach Paul Chryst said in a statement. “You only get so many chances to play this game and you never want to see a guy miss any of those opportunities. He’s one of the leaders of our team and I know he’ll be a big part of what we do moving forward this season.”

At this time, it’s unclear whether Cichy, who took a redshirt in 2014, will be able to pursue a waiver that would give him a sixth season of eligibility.

Last season, Cichy started the first seven games for the Badgers before going down with a torn pectoral muscle that sidelined him for the remainder of the year.  Despite missing nearly half the season, he was still named honorable mention All-Big Ten.

All told, he’s started 11 games during his time in Madison, which began as a walk-on in 2013.

Bovada continues to tap Alabama as 2017 title favorite

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When last we left Bovada.lv‘s odds for the 2017 national champion, 2016 runners-up Alabama sat atop the initial wagering odds.  On the cusp of a new season?  Same old, same old.  Pretty much.

Along with its updated Heisman Trophy odds, Bovada also revealed its updated odds to win the next edition of the College Football Playoff championship, with the Crimson Tide sitting as a comfortable favorite at 12/5.  In January, those odds were a little longer at 4/1.

The next two teams, USC and Ohio State, saw their odds shorten as well, with the former going from 9/1 to 6/1 and the latter from 15/2 to 13/2.  Florida State and Michigan, at 7/1 and 9/1, respectively, seven months ago, have lengthened a bit to 15/2 for the Seminoles and 16/1 for the Wolverines.

Prior to Bob Stoops’ retirement, Oklahoma had been at 9/1; after his abrupt departure, those odds have tumbled to 16/1.

Below are the complete set of updated 2017 national championship odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv.

Alabama No. 1, Ohio State No. 2 in preseason coaches’ poll

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Nearly a month before the 2017 season kicks off in earnest, the first noteworthy of the meaningless preseason polls has been released.

With USA Today as its delivery vehicle, the Amway Coaches’ Poll released its initial ranking of the Top 25 teams in the country.  Not surprisingly, to some, 2016 national runner-up Alabama is ranked as the top team in the country.

Of the 65 “coaches” (winkwinknudgenudge) who participated in the voting, 49 of them cast their first-place votes for ‘Bama.  The Nos. 2 and 3 teams in the country, Ohio State and Florida State, respectively, received five and four first-place votes, respectively.  The only other team that received No. 1 nods was fifth-ranked and defending national champion Clemson with seven.

The remainder of the Top 10 is rounded out by No. 4 USC, No. 6 Penn State, No. 7 Washington, No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 9 Michigan and No. 10 Wisconsin.

While there were four Big Ten teams in the Top 10, just one team from the SEC can make the same claim.  Overall, though, the latter conference lead all leagues with six teams in the Top 25, followed by the ACC and Big 12 with five each and the Big Ten and Pac-12 with four apiece.  The Group of Five program to crack the initial ranking was South Florida, with the AAC school coming in at No. 21.

For those who are curious, and before we get to the complete Top 25 rankings, below are the “coaches” (winkwinknudgenudge) who will vote in this particular poll throughout the 2017 season:

Major Applewhite, Houston; David Bailiff, Rice; David Beaty, Kansas; Bret Bielema, Arkansas; Craig Bohl, Wyoming; John Bonamego, Central Michigan; Terry Bowden, Akron; Jeff Brohm, Purdue; Matt Campbell, Iowa State; Rod Carey, Northern Illinois; Mark Dantonio, Michigan State; Butch Davis, Florida International; Dave Doeren, North Carolina State; DJ Durkin, Maryland; Shawn Elliott, Georgia State; Larry Fedora, North Carolina; Luke Fickell, Cincinnati; Jimbo Fisher, Florida State; P.J. Fleck, Minnesota; James Franklin, Penn State; Willie Fritz, Tulane; Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech; Bryan Harsin, Boise State; Clay Helton, Southern California; Tom Herman, Texas; Doc Holliday, Marshall; Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette; Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech; Joey Jones, South Alabama; Mike Leach, Washington State; Lance Leipold, Buffalo; Tim Lester, Western Michigan; Seth Littrell, North Texas; Rocky Long, San Diego State; Mike MacIntyre, Colorado; Gus Malzahn, Auburn; Derek Mason, Vanderbilt; Urban Meyer, Ohio State; Jeff Monken, Army; Philip Montgomery, Tulsa; Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina; Jim Mora, UCLA; Dan Mullen, Mississippi State; Pat Narduzzi, Pittsburgh; Ken Niumatalolo, Navy; Barry Odom, Missouri; Gary Patterson, TCU; Mike Riley, Nebraska; Rich Rodriguez, Arizona; Nick Rolovich, Hawaii; Nick Saban, Alabama; Tony Sanchez, UNLV; Mike Sanford Jr., Western Kentucky; Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State; Bill Snyder, Kansas State; Frank Solich, Ohio; Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee; Mark Stoops, Kentucky; Tyson Summers, Georgia Southern; Dabo Swinney, Clemson; Matt Wells, Utah State; Mark Whipple, Massachusetts; Kyle Whittingham, Utah; Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion; Everett Withers, Texas State.