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Alabama vs Wisconsin CFB Pick

One has to wonder whether new Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst checked out the Badgers schedule before accepting the job. After all, had he noticed the Wisconsin-Alabama season-opening game on the schedule, he may have had second thoughts about taking the job.

Joking aside, few Power 5 Conference teams will have as tough of an opening game as the Badgers. ABC will televise the Wisconsin-Alabama game from a neutral site in Dallas at 8 p.m. Eastern on Saturday of the college football opening weekend.

The Crimson Tide has a history of playing well early in the season against Power 5 opponents, including season-opening wins recently against West Virginia and Virginia Tech. Three seasons ago in Dallas, Alabama crushed another Big Ten team, Michigan, and Brady Hokes career with the Wolverines was never the same again.

Still, dont count out the Badgers in the Wisconsin-Alabama game. The Badgers may very well be the most under-rated Power 5 team in the nation, having played in three of the first four Big Ten Conference championship games, winning the league title twice in that span. And the Badgers are consistently in big bowl games, including last seasons Outback Bowl win against Auburn.

But Coach Gary Andersen unexpectedly bolted from Madison after just two seasons, heading for Oregon State. This followed Bret Bielema leaving the Badgers for Arkansas after the 2012 season. So Chryst will enter the Wisconsin-Alabama game as the Badgers third head coach in four seasons.

Consistency and stability wont be a problem on the opposite sideline in the Wisconsin-Alabama game. Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban enters his ninth season at Alabama, posting a 91-17 record during that time.

However, Alabamas most recent game against a Big Ten team left a bad taste for Saban, as Ohio State upset Alabama in the semifinals of the inaugural College Football Playoff, leaving the Crimson Tide with a 12-2 season.

The Crimson Tide will have their challenges on offense early in the season, as they have only two returning starters on offense for the Wisconsin-Alabama game. Meanwhile, seven starters return on defense for the Badgers, who ranked fourth nationally in total defense last season.

Interestingly, Wisconsin and Alabama had two common opponents late last season. Ohio State beat Wisconsin, 59-0, in the Big Ten Championship Game, and then beat Crimson Tide in the post-season, 42-35. The Badgers beat Auburn 34-31 in overtime in the Outback Bowl, while Alabama topped Auburn 55-44 in the regular-season finale in 2014.