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MADISON - With new coach Gary Andersen at the helm and a college football playoff on the horizon in 2014, the University of Wisconsin is beefing up its nonconference schedule, and made a big splash on Wednesday.
Wisconsin, the three-time defending Big Ten champion, and Alabama, the two-time defending BCS champion, will open the 2015 football season on Sept. 5, 2015 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
"As a league we decided that we needed to upgrade our non-conference schedule," UW Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez said in a statement. "We understand that strength of schedule will be a factor in determining which teams earn the right to participate in the new four-team playoff system and we want to be in that mix. There's no better way to do that than by playing the defending national champions. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to play a storied program like Alabama in a terrific venue like Cowboys Stadium. It will be a great experience for our program, our players and our fans."
Since arriving in 2007 after accepting a $32 million guaranteed contract for eight years, Saban has led Alabama to a 63–13 record (Saban had five wins vacated from the 2007 season).
Under Saban, Alabama has played in four previous neutral site regular season games and has two more on the schedule over the next two years. The Tide played Florida State in Jacksonville in 2007 as well as Clemson (2008) and Virginia Tech (2009) in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta. UA opened the 2012 campaign with a 42-14 win over Michigan in Arlington. Alabama will begin the 2013 season in Atlanta with a matchup against Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff and again in 2014 against West Virginia.
The last time the Badgers opened the season in a neutral site game was 2006, as Wisconsin gave new head coach Bret Bielema his first win over Bowling Green, 35-14, in Cleveland. Wisconsin hasn't played an SEC team during the regular season since losing, 27-7, at LSU on Sept. 30, 1972.
Wisconsin has not played an SEC team since playing five consecutive bowl games against the conference from 2003-07 (UW went 2-3 in those games).
"This is a tremendous opportunity for our team to open the 2015 season against a nationally-recognized SEC opponent," Andersen said.
Wisconsin has played Alabama once, earning a 15-0 victory over the Crimson Tide in Madison in 1928.