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Friday Night Lights: Wisconsin and Indiana 2020 opener moved up a day

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Wisconsin and Indiana are 24 hours closer to their first college football game of the 2020 season than previously scheduled. The Badgers and Hoosiers will play their season opener in Madison, Wisconsin on Friday, Sept. 4. The 2020 opener between the two Big Ten schools was originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 5.

No TV and official kickoff time have been released yet. Moving up the date of the opener likely will have the game being played on either ESPN, FOX Sports 1 or Big Ten Network. In 2016, the Big Ten announced a plan to begin providing some conference-owned games for Friday nights as part of a new media partnership with FOX and ESPN.

Wisconsin was among the first Big Ten schools to host a Friday night game as part of the new agreement when the Badgers hosted Utah State in its 2017 season opener. Rutgers also hosted Washington the same night. The following week, Purdue hosted Ohio State in Week 2 on a Friday night. Illinois also hosted Nebraska for a Friday nigh conference game in late September 2017.

Wisconsin WR Aron Cruickshank confirms move to portal

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This decision by Aron Cruickshank decidedly serves as a surprise.

Given the early departure of Quintez Cephus for the 2020 NFL Draft and A.J. Taylor‘s expired eligibility, Cruickshank was primed for an increased role in Wisconsin’s passing game in 2020.  Instead, the wide receiver has decided to make his way into the NCAA transfer database.

The wide receiver confirmed his intentions on Twitter Wednesday evening.

Barring something out of the ordinary, Cruickshank will have to sit out the 2020 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.  That would leave him the two years of eligibility he mentioned in the tweet starting with the 2021 season.

Coming out of high school in Brooklyn, Cruickshank was a three-star 2018 signee.  He scored four touchdowns during his time with the Badgers — two rushing (one in both 2018 and 2019) and two on kick returns.  Both of those kick-return scores came in 2019, including one in the Rose Bowl loss to Oregon earlier this month.

Just two players in Badgers history, Ira Matthews (1976) and Nick Davis (1999), have returned two kicks or touchdowns in the same season.

Cruickshank, incidentally, is the second UW player to enter the portal this month.  On Twitter late last week, Christian Bell announced he was leaving as a graduate transfer.

Rimington winner Tyler Biadasz of Wisconsin declares for draft

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Tyler Biadasz, one of the top interior linemen in the country, will be plying his football wares at the next level.

The Wisconsin junior announced Wednesday that he is forgoing his remaining eligibility to enter the 2020 NFL Draft.  Biadasz started each of the 41 games the Badgers played the past three seasons.

“Playing for the Badgers was always a dream for me, but the last three years have been more than a dream,” Biadasz said in a statement. “I’ve been blessed to be part of this program and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together. We’re a family and it’s hard to say goodbye to my teammates and coaches, but I’ll always be a Badger. Now I’m going to attack this opportunity to play in the NFL with everything I have.”

“Tyler has been a great leader for us. He truly epitomizes what it means to be a Badger,” UW head coach Paul Chryst said in his statement. “His toughness, work ethic and devotion to his teammates has led both to his individual success and our team success. He is an outstanding person and I wish him the best as he starts the next chapter of his career.”

In 2019, Biadasz was a unanimous first-team All-American and Rimington Trophy winner. The Wisconsin native was the first Rimington winner in the program’s history.

Duke RB Brittain Brown enters transfer portal

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When it comes to the ever-present portal, the Duke Blue Devils football program was the latest to see a player hit it.

A Duke football official has confirmed that Brittain Brown‘s name has been entered into the NCAA transfer database.  The running back will likely leave as a graduate transfer as he is on schedule to earn his bachelor’s degree from the university in May.

If that happens, he would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school in 2020.

Despite such a recent entry into the portal, Brown is already drawing Power Five interest.  According to 247Sports.com, Colorado, UCLA, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin have already reached out to the back.

Per NCAA rules, schools are permitted to contact players in the portal without receiving permission from the player’s current school.  The player, in this case Brown, could also return to his original school.

In four seasons with the Duke Blue Devils football team, Brown has rushed for 1,126 yards and 10 touchdowns on 222 carries.  His best season was his second as he ran for 701 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry as a redshirt freshman.

Brown’s last two seasons were marred by injuries.  A shoulder injury cost him four games in 2018, while another shoulder injury sidelined him for the last two months this past season.

Quintez Cephus leaving Wisconsin early for the draft

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The rocky road for Quintez Cephus is officially leading him from Wisconsin to the NFL.

Monday, it was confirmed by both Quintez Cephus and Wisconsin that the wide receiver has officially declared for the 2020 NFL Draft.  Cephus had one more season of eligibility that he could’ve used with the Badgers.

“I’m excited to put my name in for the draft and to have a chance to play at the highest level,” Cephus said in a statement. “I want to thank Coach (Paul) Chryst and Coach (Ted) Gilmore for everything they’ve done for me and for always having my back. They’ve helped me grow as a football player and as a man. The same for my teammates. Their support has meant everything. They’re brothers to me, and to be able to play this season with them and for them has been a blessing.”

After not playing at all in 2018, Cephus returned in 2019 to set career-highs in receptions (59), receiving yards (901) and receiving touchdowns (seven). All of those numbers led the run-heavy Badgers as well.

Cephus will finish the collegiate portion of his playing career with 1,496 yards and 13 touchdowns on 93 catches.

“Q has meant a lot to this team,” said Chryst. “He is incredibly selfless and truly cares about all of his teammates. He has an infectious personality. He loves playing the game of football and you can see that joy when he is on the field. I am excited for his future and wish him all the best as he takes this step.”

The reason for Cephus not playing in 2018 stemmed from an off-field issue.  The University of Wisconsin announced in mid-August that Quintez Cephus had been reinstated and was again a student in good standing at the school, two weeks after being found not guilty on a pair of sexual assault charges and almost immediately seeking reinstatement.

Two days after very loudly proclaiming his innocence and announcing he was taking a leave of absence from the Wisconsin football team, Cephus was charged in late August of 2018 with felony sexual assault of an intoxicated victim and felony sexual assault.  The criminal complaint filed against him stated that he allegedly “sexually assaulted two drunken women at once in the bedroom of his apartment in April” of 2018.

It took a jury of his peers less than 45 minutes to acquit him on both of those counts a year later.

Cephus was initially suspended by the Badgers football program before being expelled by the university last semester.  In October of 2018, Cephus sued the University of Wisconsin-Madison in U.S. District Court, claiming that the school violated his constitutional rights.  That suit was dropped in March of last year.