Why Wisconsin football can win the Big Ten in 2023
The Wisconsin football program was directionless midway through the 2022 season.
After struggles at the beginning of the year became too much to overlook, Paul Chryst was relieved of his head coaching duties. Jim Leonhard took over shortly after and did what he needed to do as Wisconsin’s interim coach as he led the program to a win in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.
However, shortly after the offseason began, Athletic Director Chris McIntosh flipped the switch and made a splash hire with Luke Fickell coming into the fold. The new era of Wisconsin football is upon us, and high expectations have already come about.
With the changes made in the program, UW could be a potential Big Ten Championship contender. With Ohio State and Michigan still being threats for the title, there’s certainly no guarantee. However, Wisconsin has the coaching staff and talent to make a run.
With that in mind, here are three reasons the new-look Badgers can win the Big Ten Championship in 2023.
A favorable 2023 schedule for Wisconsin football
Starting off, the Badgers are looking at a very favorable schedule in 2023. Here’s the official schedule for next season from the Badgers.
2023 schedule incoming… 👀
Which game are you circling on the calendar? ✍️
Become a new season ticket holder now ⬇️
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) October 26, 2022
Looking at the schedule, UW could be undefeated by the time they take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in Madison. Due to favorable matchups against Rutgers, Purdue, and the non-conference opponents, the Badgers could have a leg up early in the year.
Wisconsin will close out the season with games against Northwestern, Nebraska, and Minnesota, all of which UW should be favored.
The Badgers could be looking at a potential undefeated or one-loss season in 2023. If so, they’ll surely be the Big Ten Championship frontrunners.
Transfer additions could be the needle-mover
Shortly after Luke Fickell took over, a slew of transfers headed to the Wisconsin football program.
In those transfer additions, the Badgers found their QB1 in Tanner Mordecai, a potential WR1 in CJ Williams, and a plug-and-play center in Jake Renfro, among other vital offensive weapons.
On the defensive side, Wisconsin brought in defensive lineman Darian Varner, cornerback Jason Maitre, and edge rusher Jeff Pietrowski to bolster a talented UW defense.
The Badgers brought in 13 total transfers, all of which will be contributors either in year one or in the future. Wisconsin already had a well-assembled team before the transfers came in. But now, the transfer additions could very well be the needle mover to get Wisconsin back in the Big Ten Championship race.
Change in offensive philosophy
Perhaps the biggest reason the Badgers could contend for the Big Ten title is the addition of Phil Longo and the change in Wisconsin’s offensive philosophy.
Longo brings in the air-raid style offense, something never before seen in Madison. With the additions of CJ Williams, Bryson Green, Will Pauling, and Quincy Burroughs, the Badgers revamped the wide receiver room to bring in guys who will benefit from the air raid offensive scheme. On top of that, adding in a seasoned vet in Tanner Mordecai, known for his gunslinger play style, is a recipe for success.
However, the benefits of the new scheme continue beyond just the wide receivers. Due to the more spread-out offense, the running back duo of Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi will be running through less packed boxes up front. The two-headed rushing attack had a big season last year, combining for 1,715 rushing yards, and under the new scheme, those numbers could rack up even higher in 2023.
The change in offensive philosophy will benefit all the position groups next season. If this scheme is executed at a high level, Wisconsin could have one of the most explosive offenses in the country as they contend for a Big Ten Championship.
The Badgers are ushering in a new era for the program in September. If UW performs up to expectations, the Big Ten will be within reach in year one under Luke Fickell.
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