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Three Reasons Wisconsin Football Wins the Big Ten West in 2023



Wisconsin football; Badgers head coach Luke Fickell
Wisconsin Badgers head coach Luke Fickell runs through a drill during fall training camp at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023.

Only eight days remain until the Wisconsin Football team opens their 2023 season. They will begin the season against Buffalo at Camp Randall Stadium. Expectations are high for first year head coach Luke Fickell.

Wisconsin is also seen as a slight favorite to win the Big Ten West. Many experts see the West as a two team race between Wisconsin and Iowa. Here are three reasons why I believe this Wisconsin Football Team will win the West division.

Wisconsin Upgraded At Quarterback

Wisconsin football; Badgers quarterback Tanner Mordecai

Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Tanner Mordecai (8) runs through a drill during fall training camp at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023.

Let me be clear- Graham Mertz is not the only reason Wisconsin underwhelmed in 2022. It’s hard to go through a coaching change and still go out every Saturday and be successful. It’s also important to know Mertz did not have a quarterback coach either. I hope Mertz balls out as the starter at Florida. He’s a great kid and should improve with the right coaching staff.

However, we did not see Mertz take that next step. Footwork was always an issue. Could a quarterback coach have fixed that? Perhaps. At the same time, that is also on the quarterback to correct.

In comes SMU transfer Tanner Mordecai to be the starter this year. Mordecai threw for 72 touchdowns and over 7,000 yards in his two years as a starter. He’s not the biggest quarterback, but he knows where to place the ball and he has a good arm. This Wisconsin Football team needs an established veteran quarterback. They have one this year.

Wisconsin Football Has the Best Offensive Weapons

Wisconsin Badgers wide receiver Chimere Dike runs through a drill during fall training camp at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023.

In order to be successful in the Big Ten, you have to have a good running game and receiving options. Wisconsin has all of that and then some.

The Badgers return their running back duo of Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi. Allen is one of the best running backs in the country. On the other hand, Mellusi is a great 1B option and would be a starter at a number of power five programs.

I expect Wisconsin to rely heavily on the running game early in the season until they can establish the air raid offense. Allen and Mellusi are both in their third year with the Wisconsin Football program. That matters.

The Wisconsin receiving room is full of depth, talent, and experience. There is a good mixture of veterans in Chimere Dike and Bryson Green. There is also a talented youth core of C.J. Williams and Will Pauling. Add in players such as Skyler Bell and Keontez Lewis and you have the best receiver room in the Big Ten West. It’s not close either.

The Wisconsin Football Defense Returns a Number of Established Players

Wisconsin Badgers safety Hunter Wohler (24) runs through a drill during fall training camp at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023.

You can’t replace the production Nick Herbig and Keeanu Benton. Both had incredible careers and will be successful in the NFL. Wisconsin also loses three corners from last season and a productive safety in John Torchio.

While that is a lot of experience gone, all three levels of the defense returns a ton of production from last season. On the defensive line, James Thompson Jr., Isaiah Mullens, and Rodas Johnson return and will anchor the defensive line.

At linebacker, the Badgers return their most productive player in Maema Njongmeta and returning starter Jordan Turner. Both players are poised to have breakout seasons.

The secondary room could have some growing pains. However, Boston College transfer Jason Maitre should serve as a veteran presence to lead that position. The safety duo of Hunter Wohler and Kamo’i Latu is one of the best in he country as well.

I think people forget despite losing two great players, there is a ton of experience returning. Under first year defensive coordinator Mike Tressel, it should be one of the best units in the Big Ten again.

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Dylan began as a staff writer for Badger Notes in August 2023. He has written about Wisconsin Badger Football and Men's Basketball since May 2020. Dylan's work has been featured on Yard Barker, NewsBreak, and Bleacher Reports