Wisconsin to open the season at night against Utah State

For the first time since 2011, the Wisconsin football team will open its season at night inside Camp Randall Stadium.

The national TV schedule for the first week of games was released on Thursday, and it showed the Badgers’ matchup with Utah State on Friday, Sept. 1 will get underway at 8 p.m. It will be televised on ESPN.

Wisconsin has opened its season with a night home game five times, and are 4-1 in those games, with victories over Western Michigan (2000), Fresno State (2002), Northern Illinois (2009) and UNLV (2010), with the lone loss coming against Colorado (1995).

This will be the first meeting between Wisconsin and Utah State since 2012, when the Badgers took down the Aggies 16-14. Utah State’s coach that day was Gary Andersen, who would leave for Wisconsin after that season, only to pull up stakes after just two years in Madison to go to Oregon State.

The Badgers return 15 starters from their 2016 squad that went 11-3, won the Big Ten West and beat Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl.

Wisconsin to host a Friday night game in 2017

MADISON — Friday night football is coming to Madison next fall.

The Big Ten announced Tuesday that Wisconsin will be among the first to host a game on Friday when they welcome Utah State on Sept. 1, 2017 to Camp Randall Stadium. It’ll be the Badgers first home game on a weekday since opening the 2011 season against UNLV on a Thursday, and its first Friday night game since 2002 when they beat Fresno State.

“As a former high school and college coach, I have great respect for the tradition and importance of Friday night high school football in the state of Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest,” Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a statement last week when it was first announced the Big Ten would be playing on Friday. “As a conference, we felt it was the right time to explore additional opportunities for exposure on Friday nights on a limited basis.”

Alvarez made clear that while the school was more than willing to host games before Labor Day weekend, they have not committed to hosting Friday night games at any other time.

Fri., Sept. 1 Washington at Rutgers
Fri., Sept. 1 Utah State at Wisconsin
Fri., Sept. 8 Ohio at Purdue
Fri., Sept. 29 Nebraska at Illinois
Fri., Oct. 13 Northwestern at Maryland
Fri., Oct. 27 Michigan State at Northwestern