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Wisconsin Badgers to Follow the Tubas to the Big Ten Championship

The Wisconsin Badgers will begin a new era in Madison in 2023, as Luke Fickell takes over as the head coach. The Badgers look to improve on their 7-6 record from a year ago. To do that, Fickell hired Phil Longo away from North Carolina to be his Offensive Coordinator.

Wisconsin’s Offense was offensive!

In 2022, the Badgers' offense had less firepower than Sweden in WWII. The rankings are as follows:

  • Total Offense: 363 yards/game, #91 in the FBS

  • Passing Offense: 183 yards/game, #114 in the FBS

  • Scoring Offense: 26 points/game, #76 in the FBS

  • Rushing Offense: 179 yards/game, #46 in the FBS

This season, SMU transfer QB Tanner Mordecai will take the reins of the new Air Raid offense that Longo brought with him from Tobacco Road. As the field general for the Mustangs, Mordecai threw for 3524 yards, 33 TDs, and 10 INTs (on 443 pass attempts).

Mordecai recorded four games with over 300 yards passing. He threw for 432 yards and four TDs in a 48-10 win over North Texas, completing 72% of his passes.

And in a 77-63 shootout win over Houston, Mordecai threw for 379 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Mordecai posted six games in which he completed 70% or more of his passes. Coming from a spread offense at SMU, Mordecai is a natural fit for Longo’s Air Raid offense.

Catch Them They Can

The Badgers return their Top three receivers from last season, plus add three transfers that will see action sooner rather than later.

WR Chimere Duke caught 47 balls last season for 689 yards and six touchdowns. WR Skyler Bell hauled 30 passes for 444 yards and five scores. And WR Keontez Lewis caught 20 passes for 313 yards and three TDs.

In addition, Wisconsin added three contributors on the perimeter:

  • WR Bryson Green (Oklahoma State Transfer): 36 catches, 584 yards, 5 TDs. He posted three games of over 100 yards receiving.

  • WR Will Pauling (Cincinnati Transfer): 12 catches, 122 yards in 9 games.

  • WR C.J. Williams (USC Transfer): 4 catches for 34 yards in 11 games as a freshman. Caught 46 passes for 776 yards and 12 TDs his senior year at Mater Dei High School (CA.).

Wisconsin Can Still run the Ball

Wisconsin for years has been a ground-and-pound, run-it-down-your-throat kind of team. Now they will spread the ball all over the field via the forward pass. But they can still run the ball. RB Braelon Allen is back for a third year after rushing for over 1000 yards in each of his first two seasons.

At 6-2, 235 pounds, Allen earned 2nd Team All-Big Ten honors after rushing for 1242 yards and 11 TDs. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry.

Allen posted seven games of over 100 yards rushing, including four in a row. In addition, he scored three rushing touchdowns against New Mexico State. And he rushed for 165 yards in a loss on the road at Ohio State.

The Badgers also return Chez Mellusi to give Allen a breather when needed. Mellusi rushed for 473 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The Wisconsin Badgers Return a Top 20 Defense

The Badgers were mean and nasty on defense in 2022, and they return eight starters from that unit.

They ranked among the best in the FBS in the following categories:

Total Defense: 303 yards/game, #11 in the FBS

Rush Defense: 99 yards/game, #9 in the FBS

Scoring Defense: 20 points/game, #17 in the FBS

Pass Defense: 204 yards/game, #29 in the FBS

INTs: 17, tied for #7 in the FBS

Opponent’s 3rd Down Conversion Pct: 32%, tied for #17 in the FBS

The defense returns four of their top five tacklers from last season, including:

LB MaemaNjongmeta: 95 tackles, 1 INT, 11.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks. Led the team in tackles on his way to 3rd Team All-Big Ten honors.

LB Jordan Turner: 68 tackles (2nd on team), 1 INT, 5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks.

LB C.J. Goetz: 61 tackles (3rd on team), 9 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 pass breakups.

S Kaom’i Latu: 55 tackles (4th on team), 2 INTs, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 3 pass breakups.

DE Rodas Johnson: 23 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 1 sack.

DE James Thompson: 23 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, 2 sacks.

CB Alexander Smith: 17 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 pass breakups.

CB Ricardo Hallman: 9 tackles, 1 INT, 3 pass breakups.

Wisconsin Has a Favorable Schedule

In 2023, the Badgers have a favorable schedule, as in the 59th-toughest schedule in the country. As such, their path to a Big Ten West title is not fraught with peril as it could be. Their two toughest opponents, Iowa and Ohio State must travel to Camp Randall Stadium.

And you can bet the Badger fans will be jumping around this season as Coach Fickell and Coach Longo lead Wisconsin to a division title and the Big Ten title game.



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