LSU and Wisconsin open the season at 9 p.m. ET Saturday in what could be one of the most important non-conference games in the nation.

The news that Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller’s shoulder injury will keep him out for the season elevated the Badgers as a solid contender for the College Football Playoff. Sure, Northwestern, Nebraska and Iowa may be feisty, but if the Badgers get past LSU, they have a clear path to securing a spot in the Big Ten Championship as an unbeaten.

The game is significant for the Tigers, too. Not many outside of the program expect LSU to win the SEC or compete for a national championship this season with wholesale changes at the offensive skill positions. But it’s hard to imagine Les Miles and the Tigers have a goal of winning 10 games and finishing second or third in the SEC West.

Here are the major story lines, questions and matchups entering the game.

1. Melvin Gordon’s showcase: The Heisman Trophy is a quarterback-centric award, as we touched on earlier this week. But it’s likely that a running back or two will at least get enough votes to be a Heisman finalist. And there’s a ton of good running backs gunning for the Doak Walker Award. Given the remainder of Wisconsin’s schedule, Saturday represents Melvin Gordon’s best chance to make a national imprint. If he rushes for more than 100 yards and a few scores against a big, bad SEC defense, he’ll get plenty of early attention. (FYI, backup Corey Clement is no slouch either.)

2. Leonard Fournette vs. Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard: Though Gordon is the running back of the present, Fournette is the back of the future. Just when that future arrives is anyone’s guess. Most expect Fournette to become LSU’s unquestioned lead back at some point in his true freshman season. But Magee and Hilliard will get carries. Magee may even get as many or more carries as Fournette early in the season. How will LSU split carries against Wisconsin?

3. Replacements vs. Replacements: Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and linebacker Chris Borland, as well as Beau Allen and Pat Muldoon, are gone, part of near-wholesale losses from Wisconsin’s defensive front seven. LSU, meanwhile, lost its starting quarterback, running back, and both receivers to the NFL Draft. LSU’s replacements are more touted, but which group will make fewer mistakes Saturday?

4. SEC vs. Big Ten: SEC fans would love it if LSU, perceived as perhaps the league’s fifth-best team, rolled Wisconsin, perceived as perhaps the league’s third-best team. Badgers fans (and Buckeyes fans, and Spartans fans) would revel in a Wisconsin victory. Expect to hear plenty of talk about conference power rankings. With the College Football Playoff in place, we’ll see more and more non-conference games between Top 25 teams in August, but for now, they’re still relatively rare.

5. Who the heck will play quarterback?: Despite a report that Tanner McEvoy will start the season opener for Wisconsin, coach Gary Andersen has made no announcement. Joel Stave started all 13 games last season while McEvoy struggled prior to the 2013 season and moved to safety before returning to the position this spring. The starter is not guaranteed to remain in that role, either. But it’s a big decision in a big game. LSU, too, has not announced a starting quarterback, and it appears Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris both will play.