MADISON, Wisconsin (Ticker) -- No. 22 Wisconsin and Central Florida kick off their respective 2004 seasons with the first meeting between the schools Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.
Badgers coach Barry Alvarez enters the game needing one win to reach 100 at Wisconsin. Alvarez would become just the 10th coach to win 100 games at one Big 10 Conference school.
Across the field, the George O'Leary era begins for the Golden Knights. The eighth coach in UCF history, O'Leary was hired in December and guides the Golden Knights into the first of two meeting with Big 10 schools this season. UCF also visits Happy Valley to take on Penn State on September 18.
Alvarez and the Badgers will look to return to past glory in 2004 after a string of disappointing seasons. Wisconsin finished 7-6 overall and 4-4 in the Big 10 last year, capping the campaign with a 28-14 loss to Auburn in the Motor City Bowl.
After winning back-to-back Rose Bowls after the 1998 and 1999 seasons, the Badgers have not won more than nine games in a season and are just 15-12 in their past two seasons. The Badgers began their 2003 campaign in promising fashion with a 6-1 start, then nosedived down the stretch.
The Badgers ranked just 37th nationally in rushing last year, averaging 177.0 yards per game. That should improve significantly in 2004 with a veteran offensive line and a healthy senior running back Anthony Davis, who missed part or all of nine games last season with ankle problems.
Davis, who ran for just over 3,000 yards his first two years, apparently is healthy. Sophomore John Stocco is slated to take over for Jim Sorgi at quarterback but will miss departed star wideout Lee Evans.
Wisconsin returns six starters on defense, including all four defensive linemen led by monstrous 6-3, 312-pound tackle Anttaj Hawthorne. Safety Jim Leonhard, who leads all Division I players with 18 interceptions over the past two seasons, heads a tough secondary.
UCF's offense will be sparked by tailback Alex Haynes. After becoming the team's first 1,000-yard rusher as a sophomore, Haynes had 774 yards and five scores last year.
Sophomore Steven Moffett, who looks to have the edge over senior Jon Rivera at quarterback, will look to top receiver Tavaris Capers, who hauled in 67 passes for 585 yards and seven TDs as a junior last year.
The Golden Knights are 0-13 all-time vs. ranked teams.