As has been speculated for a while now, LSU will travel north to play Wisconsin in a rare Big Ten-SEC non-conference regular season match-up in Lambeau Field, home to the NFL's Green Bay Packers. According to a report by The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com, LSU and Wisconsin are in the process of finalizing neutral site games to open the 2014 and 2016 seasons. The game in Lambeau Field will be played in 2016 according to the report, with a 2014 opener in Houston's Reliant Stadium also expected to be a part of the contract.
While college football purists by raise a stink eye to the idea of two programs like LSU and Wisconsin choosing to abandon their lively home domains for what should be fantastic non-conference match-ups, it is important to keep a perspective on what this means for the programs on a larger scale in terms of national notoriety and how that ultimately impacts recruiting. A chance to play in an NFL venue is a nice recruiting tool, and a deal to play a big name program in two NFL stadiums is twice as nice.
Personally I would love to have seen these match-ups take place in the home stadiums for Wisconsin and LSU. The atmosphere would be electric for both games and that just cannot be duplicated in newer NFL stadiums such as Reliant Stadium in Houston. Perhaps there is still a charm to playing in historic Lambeau Field though. The last time college football was played in Lambeau was in 1983 when Fordham and St. Norbert played in the Vince Lombardi Memorial game to raise funds for the Vince Lombardi Colon Clinic. An estimated 5,200 fans showed up for that game. Expect more in 2016 for Wisconsin vs. LSU.
LSU is currently scheduled to open the 2016 season at home against Southern Mississippi on September 3, but that could be a chance to LSU's schedule that will be addressed as the contract with Wisconsin is finalized. Wisconsin only has one non-conference game scheduled for 2016 so far, but that is a road game at Virginia Tech. If the Badgers keep that game and add a game against LSU, that will be quite the strength of schedule being put together in the era of the College Football Playoff. LSU also has a road game at Arizona State scheduled for 2016, which also makes for an attractive schedule when it comes to strength of schedule.