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Area colleges set for season openers


The LSU Tigers, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Northwestern State Demons and other area colleges open their seasons this seek.
The Demons get things started with a 6:30 p.m. contest against No. 23 Baylor in Waco, Texas (Fox Sports Television).
Fifth-ranked LSU faces Wisconsin at 2:30 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. (ABC). Louisiana Tech travels to Fayetteville, Ark., to play Arkansas at 3 (SEC Network).
ULM hosts Southern University at 6, and Grambling State hosts Virginia University of Lynchburg at 6.
Here is a look at some of those matchups.
LSU vs. Wisconsin: LSU junior Brandon Harris, a former Parkway star, begins his second full year as the Tigers starting quarterback. He helped LSU go 9-3 last season.
Heisman Trophy candidate running back Leonard Fournette also enters his junior season.
Wisconsin is coming off a 10-3 season. The Badgers finished third in the Big Ten West at 6-2.
An interesting sidenote to this game is that LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda came to Baton Rouge after spending three years in the same position at Wisconsin.
Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst, entering his second season, has named fifth-year senior Bart Houston his starting quarterback.
The 6-foot-4 Houston has played in just 15 games in his career. Last year, he played in seven, completing 27 of 47 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns.
He hit 22 of 33 for 232 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions against Illinois playing in relief of injured starter Joel Stave.
Senior running back Corey Clement is back from an injury that kept him out of all but four games last season.
Louisiana Tech at Arkansas: Senior Ryan Higgins takes over for Jeff Driskell at quarterback.
Higgins has seen limited action the last two seasons. In 2013, he started six games and played in nine, passing for 1,715 yards and six touchdowns with 13 interceptions.
Senior receiver Trent Taylor’s return should help Higgins immensely.
In addition to Driskell, Tech coach Skip Holtz has had to replace record-setting running back Kenneth Dixon.
Junior Jarred Craft, a former Haughton star, is among the running backs expected to fill some of the void. Craft rushed for 243 yards on 58 carries in an injury-plagued 2015 season.
Arkansas returns 16 starters (five offense, nine defense, two specialists) from a team that went 8-5 last season and defeated Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl.
Northwestern State at Baylor: Coach Jay Thomas has named senior Brooks Haack, a Louisiana-Lafayette transfer, as the starting quarterback. Haack started eight games last season and passed for 1,407 yards and five TDs with seven interceptions.
Haack will have veterans Shakeir Ryan and Tuff McClain to throw to. DeMard Llorens, last year’s top rusher, also returns off last season’s 4-7 team.
Baylor is coming off a tumultuous, scandal-plagued offseason. Coach Art Briles was fired amidst criticism of the school’s response to reports of sexual assaults by football players. Jim Grobe replaced him as interim head coach.

— Russell Hedges, rhedges@bossierpress.com

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