Wisconsin Badgers

COLUMBIA, SC - AUGUST 28: Kenny Hill #7 of the Texas A&M Aggies drops back to pass South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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TCU, Auburn, others name starting quarterbacks

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Game week is upon us, which means it’s time for those mired in quarterback derbies to declare a winner. At least for Week 1.

A number of announcements have come down the pike of late, so we funneled them all into one post here.

First, TCU announced that Texas A&M transfer and short-lived Heisman favorite Kenny Hill has beaten Alamo Bowl hero Foster Sawyer to win the Horned Frogs’ starting role next Saturday against South Dakota State.

“He’s in as good a shape as I’ve ever seen him,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Stronger, faster than he was coming out of high school. I mean, he’s done a great job of re-doing himself.”

Auburn has the unenviable task of opening against college football’s best quarterback in Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, and the player charged with that task will be Sean White. The one-time Tiger starter reclaimed his role by beating former Florida State quarterback and Last Chance U. star John Franklin III and incumbent Jeremy Johnson.

“It feels really good,” White told Auburn Undercover. “I feel blessed to be in this position, and I feel responsible to lead this team against Clemson. I’m happy coach put this responsibility on me and my teammates believe in me. I feel like they have a reason to believe in me. We’ll be ready to go come Saturday.”

At Wisconsin, Bart Houston will lead the Badgers on the field as they open against LSU at Lambeau Field. In what may be a savvy karma play, head coach Paul Chryst selected Houston, a fifth-year senior named after Packers legend Bart Starr, over redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook. “I felt like Bart did everything he needed to do and earned the right to get the start,” Chryst said in a release.

At Virginia Tech, new head coach Justin Fuente tabbed Jerod Evans as his starter over fifth-year senior Brenden Motley and true freshman Josh Jackson. A Dallas native and Trinity Valley College transfer, Evans is the first JuCo transfer to ever win the Hokies’ starting gig. Fuente indicated more than just Evans will play in the Hokies’ opener opposite Liberty.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Fuente said, via the Roanoke Times. “We have a lot of development, a lot of coaching, a lot of mentoring left to do with all three.”

Finally, Fresno State selected redshirt freshman Chason Virgil over Ford Childress and Kilton Anderson to start as the Bulldogs open at Nebraska. For Virgil, the announcement comes at the end of a sordid saga after Mississippi State pulled his scholarship offer late in the recruiting process.

“He earned the job. It wasn’t that we’re just selecting somebody,” Fresno head coach Tim DeRuyter said of Virgil, via the Fresno Bee. He clearly separated himself. If you look at the statistics, he had over twice the throws and less than half of the interceptions of any of the guys that were close to him. The longer we were in the system, the clearer it became.”

Wisconsin losing starting lineman Dan Voltz to retirement

MADISON, WI - NOVEMBER 29: Head Coach Gary Anderson of the Wisconsin Badgers talks to Dan Voltz #70 as he walks off the field during the second half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the second half against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on November 29, 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Injuries have finally gotten the best of one of Wisconsin’s most veteran and talented offensive linemen.

Wisconsin announced Tuesday that Dan Voltz has elected to retire from the sport of football.  Injuries, specifically a recent one to one of his knees that’s continued to linger, as the reason behind the interior lineman’s decision to step away from the game.

The senior plans on staying involved with the program, although in what capacity it’s yet to be specified.

“It’s been a hard decision to make,” Voltz said in quotes distributed by the team. “Something I’ve dealt with pretty much my whole career is injuries. For physical reasons, (that’s) the main reason that it kind of forced me to start thinking about this. …

“This program has really been a big part of my life for going on five years now, and is something I deeply care about. I’m going to remain a big part of the program. My role is just going to shift from playing to helping out in other ways. That made the transition a lot easier for me, especially letting the O-line know that I’m not going to fade away from that group. I’m going to be a big part of what they do.”

Voltz has started 27 games the past three seasons. After starting six games as a redshirt freshman in 2013, he started all 14 in 2014 and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors. He started seven games in 2015, with a knee injury ultimately sidelining the lineman for the last five games of the year.

Earlier this offseason, he was named to the Outland Trophy and Rimington Award watch list.

College GameDay headed to Lambeau Field for opening Saturday

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 19:  A general view of Lambeau Field during the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears on September 19, 2004 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Bears defeated the Packers 21-10. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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By this point in the show’s life, heading into Season 22 of traveling on a weekly or near-weekly basis, variety is the spice that keeps College GameDay fresh. New locations are rare and cherished, especially when that new location is the Not So Frozen Tundra Because It’s Still Early September.

So it makes perfect sense when ESPN announced Wednesday College GameDay will put up its stakes in Green Bay for the LSU-Wisconsin showdown on the season’s opening Saturday.

The Lambeau visit marks the second of a odd home-and-home between the Badgers and Bayou Bengals. LSU topped Wisconsin 28-24 in Houston to open the 2014 season.

“Lambeau Field is hailed as a football shrine and is as special of a venue as the game of football has to offer,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting said in a statement. “It is an honor to be able to stage College GameDay from Lambeau as we kick off this opening weekend filled with top-caliber games.”

There were a plethora of choices for Sept. 3 — almost too much. Alabama-USC offers the biggest brand names, and will, in fact, host ABC’s top play-by-play crew of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit. Oklahoma-Houston offers the best combination of highly-ranked teams and competitive balance. Auburn-Clemson would’ve been a choice few could have quibbled with.

But GameDay can broadcast outside Jordan-Hare Stadium or the respective parking lots of AT&T Stadium or NRG Stadium any year they choose. They’ll probably never have a chance to go to Lambeau again.

LSU will make its 26th GameDay appearance, seventh most all-time. The Tigers are 16-9 in their previous appearances. Wisconsin will step in the GameDay spotlight for the 13th time; the Badgers are 5-7 in their previous 12 games, including four consecutive losses. Both teams’ most recent GameDay appearances came in 2015 losses to Alabama.

SEC teams are 5-0 all-time in GameDay games against the Big Ten.

Badgers grant WR Krenwick Sanders release to transfer

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 01: Quentin Gause #50 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights tackles Krenwick Sanders #10 of the Wisconsin Badgers in the fourth quarter at High Point Solutions Stadium on November 1, 2014 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
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Krenwick Sanders was a one-time verbal commitment to Georgia before signing with Wisconsin.  Now, UGA, if they so desire, can have another crack at the wide receiver.

247Sports.com has reported that, following a conversation with Paul Chryst Saturday, Sanders has decided to transfer out of the UW football program.  The receiver was granted a release from his scholarship; what if any restrictions were attached to the release are not known.

The Wisconsin State-Journal writes that Sanders “was one of two scholarship players who did not make the Badgers’ 105-man fall camp roster.”

Sanders was a three-star 2015 UW signee, rated as the No. 63 receievr in the country and the No. 33 player at any position in the state of Georgia.  In addition to UW and UGA, Sanders held offers from, among others, Florida, Florida State, North Carolina, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

As a true freshman, Sanders played in seven games last season.  He caught one pass for 10 yards.

Bama’s still the favorite, but LSU makes significant gain in Bovada title odds

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 07:  Les Miles, head coach of the LSU Tigers, reacts during the first quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Back in February, four other teams had, per Bovada.lv, better odds to win the 2016 College Football Playoff than LSU.  Six months later, and less than a month before the start of a new season, the Tigers lag behind just one.

Currently, Alabama, 7/1 in February, is listed as Bovada‘s favorite at 6/1.  Right behind them is SEC West rival LSU at 7/1 and 2016 playoff runnerup Clemson at 17/2.

Ohio State, Bovada‘s wagering favorite earlier this year, has seen its odds grow longer at 9/1.  Those are the same odds hated rival Michigan (15/2 in February) is getting from the gambling website.

Houston (66/1) and Boise State (150/1) are the only Group of Five teams listed.  BYU (250/1) as a football independent (for now?) is also included.

Below are the updated odds for the 2016 College Football Playoff championship, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:

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