I wanted to get Landry's take on the 2014 Wisconsin Badgers football team, as well as how they will match up with the LSU Tigers, who they will take on in the opening game of the season on August 30 at Reliant Field in Houston.
Chris knows all about the LSU football program. Before becoming a scout, Landry was on the coaching staff for the Tigers in the 1980s. Landry also lives in the area.
The game with the Badgers and the Tigers will be a big test for both teams. In the updated divisional format in the Big Ten, the Badgers are now in the West division, which also includes Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Purdue.
You will note that the East division has perennial powers Michigan and Ohio State in it, as well as last year's Big Ten and Rose Bowl champion Michigan State, plus there is Penn State, Indiana, Maryland and Rutgers.
It appears the Badgers caught quite a break being in the West. Not only that, but Wisconsin doesn't have to play Ohio State, Michigan State or Michigan in 2014.
Landry talked about that set of circumstances:
The Big Ten has shifted. No more Leaders and Legions divisions. So quickly, it's East and West. And right now the strength is Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan.
Bob is right when he says that Wisconsin got a break. That's a pretty soft division when you look at it. Iowa is going to have their run every couple of years. Northwestern is going to be a tough out at times. I think Jerry Kill, God Bless him if he can stay healthy, has gotten the Minnesota program better.
Illinois and Purdue are a long ways away. So it's Nebraska and Wisconsin. It's a two-team race and if they struggle, then that's going to bring in Iowa, Minnesota or Northwestern into the picture.
The Badgers will have an opportunity to have a special season in 2014. They have a favorable Big Ten schedule, plus they get to play Nebraska at Camp Randall Stadium
Besides their game against LSU, the Badgers will also take on Western Illinois, Bowling Green and South Florida in non-conference games.
That's why a win against a quality opponent like LSU could really jump-start the season for the Badgers.
Landry gave me his overall view of Wisconsin:
Wisconsin is going to be good again. Their offensive line is going to continue to be good. They are going to run the football. Melvin Gordon is an outstanding running back. If he plays well early, particularly against LSU, then he'll be a Heisman candidate.
I think this is going to be a physical run-team. They are going to miss Jared Abbrederis, and they are going to miss tight end Jacob Pedersen.
Wisconsin defensively, they are one of the few teams that run a 30-front (3-4). They are going a little bit quicker and a little bit more athletic. I like what Gary Andersen is doing there.
When the Badgers take on LSU to begin the season, they will be taking on a team that won national championships as recently as 2003 and 2007. In addition to that, the Tigers play in the best conference in college football in the SEC, plus they have to play in the West division of that conference, which features teams like Alabama and Auburn.
So, how does Landry see the Wisconsin-LSU contest?
It's going to be difficult for both LSU and Wisconsin to have a lot of success passing, but the one who can throw it a little bit better is going to win that game.
I think it's going to be a really good game. LSU is not right now settled at quarterback. I think Brandon Harris is going to wind up winning that job, and he's a true freshman. Anthony Jennings might win it because he's got some experience, not much, but a little bit.
They are going back to be a running-football team again. They lose their two great receivers. They lose the quarterback who can throw it. But they are going to be running and working on the defense. LSU is a little more athletic and I expect them to win. But I expect that game is going to be a lot closer than most people think.