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Wisconsin Football: Bold Predictions for the Badgers Offense in 2023

The offense for the Wisconsin football team is going to be very different this year. Here are some bold predictions for the offense in 2023.



Wisconsin Badgers football wide receivers Chimere Dike, Skyler Bell, and Keontez Lewis.
Wisconsin wide receiver Keontez Lewis, left, celebrates a touchdown with teammates Chimere Dike, center, and Skyler Bell during a NCAA Big Ten Conference football game against Iowa, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

There’s a buzz in Madison, Wisconsin. That buzz is centered around the upcoming Wisconsin football season, the first under new head coach, Luke Fickell. It’s hard not to be excited about what the future of the program looks like. For the longest time, Badgers fans knew what kind of program they had. A solid team that was capable of winning double-digit games and would represent the Big Ten West in the Big Ten Championship Game.

With Luke Fickell and co., fans are aiming their hopes higher than that, even in the staff’s first year. Why? Because Fickell has already made the College Football Playoff with a non-Power 5 team. The only team to do so. Add in the job they’ve done with recruiting and you have a recipe for excitement and high expectations.

Phil Longo was an explosive hire for the Badgers bringing an offense that Wisconsin has never seen. Some fans may be pessimistic about the air raid since it isn’t Wisconsin football. But we’ve all seen where the typical Wisconsin offense has gotten them the past few years. I think that, for the most part, Wisconsin fans are excited about something new and exciting. And that’s exactly what Longo is bringing.

We may be weeks from the first game of the Wisconsin football season, but it’s never too early to make some bold predictions. Here are my bold predictions for the offense in 2023.

1. Wisconsin Football finishes as a top-3 scoring team in the Big Ten

Wisconsin football is not normally synonymous with high-scoring offenses. In the past four seasons alone, the Badgers averaged just 27.7 points per game. For reference, Ohio State averaged 44.5 points per game. I don’t expect the Badgers to get to that point this season. But Phil Longo should help raise the scoring in Madison this season.

In his four seasons at North Carolina, the Tar Heels averaged 36.1 points per game, including 41.7 in 2021.

Last season, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State were the top-3 scoring offenses in the conference. Ohio State and Penn State both have new quarterbacks leading their respective offenses. I’m sure both will have good offenses again this year, but it’s hard to replace a player like CJ Stroud.

The Badgers are going to have to battle it out with those three teams again this year, but I don’t think being a top-3 scoring team in the conference this year is out of the question.

Tanner Mordecai; Wisconsin football

Apr 11, 2023; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin quarterback Tanner Mordecai (8) is shown during practice Tuesday, April 11, 2023 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

2. Tanner Mordecai throws 30+ touchdowns

This prediction is connected to the first. For this offense to be successful this year, the Badgers need transfer quarterback Tanner Mordecai to be the missing piece. He brings a veteran presence and a track record of success that this team hasn’t had in a minute. In the past couple of seasons, Mordecai has thrown for over 7,000 yards and 72 touchdowns. If the Badgers can get 75% of that production, they will have struck gold. Now, his success was at SMU against Group of Five teams. Whether he can continue that success in a Power 5 conference remains to be seen.

I struggled with the number of touchdowns I thought he could realistically get to and what would be bold. The last Wisconsin football player to throw 30+ touchdowns was Russell Wilson in 2011 when he threw for 33 touchdowns, which is a single-season record. The offense Wilson was in was still a run-heavy pro-style offense.

This is the air raid. We are going to see a lot more passing than we have in the past. Yes, running the ball is still going to be important. But with the pace of this offense, there are more plays in a game. I think 30+ passing touchdowns are completely in the realm of possibility for Mordecai. He may even have a chance to break Wilson’s single-season record.

3. Will Pauling leads Wisconsin Football with 60+ receptions

I previously pegged Will Pauling to be the surprise of the year for the Badgers in 2023. In a room filled with guys like Chimere Dike, C.J. Williams, Bryson Green, Skyler Bell, and more, Pauling is easy to overlook. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of fans haven’t heard of him.

But his name popped up repeatedly during spring camp. He was getting first-team reps as the slot receiver. This is the position that players like A.J. Brown and Josh Downs played in Longo’s offenses. I’m not saying he’s going to be the best receiver on the team. But I wouldn’t be even a little surprised if he ends the season with the most receptions on the team.

Last season, Dike led the Badgers pedestrian passing attack with 47 receptions. So you may be wondering how 60+ receptions would lead the team if they are implementing an offense where there will be a lot more passing. But with the addition of all these weapons, there are only so many receptions to go around. Dike will get a good amount of targets. But then you have Williams, Bell, Green, tight ends, and running backs all vying for targets too.

Look for Pauling to be a bigger part of this offense than a lot of people thought.

Wisconsin football running back Braelon Allen

Oct 22, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) rushes for a touchdown during the third quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

4. Wisconsin’s RB duo both rush Over 1,000 yards

In the past, this wouldn’t be much of a bold prediction. The Badgers have one of the best duos of backs in the conference. Michigan is the only program that could say they have a better 1-2 punch than Wisconsin with Corum and Edwards. When the running game was spearheaded by players like Montee Ball, James White, Melvin Gordon, and Corey Clement, it wasn’t difficult to imagine having two players rush for over 1,000 yards.

Last year, Braelon Allen led the team with 1,242 yards. But the next closest back was Chez Mellusi, who had just 473 yards. Granted, Mellusi played in just nine games, missing time with a wrist injury. But even if he didn’t miss those games, I don’t think he would have hit the century mark in yards.

It may seem counterintuitive, but I think the new offense coming to  Madison will make Allen and Mellusi more productive stat-wise.

In the old offense, teams would make the Badgers beat them by passing the ball. The passing game was a clear weakness. Teams would stack the box and limit Allen and Mellusi. Now, if things go according to plan, teams will not be able to stack the box nearly as often. An effective passing game should open up the middle and make running the ball easier.

Even with stacked boxes, Allen averaged 5.4 yards per carry. Mellusi averaged 4.2. Imagine what this duo can do when there are open running lanes.

5. Braelon Allen catches 3+ touchdowns

One of the things I think Braelon Allen needs to boost his draft stock is to show his ability to catch the ball. In his two years at Wisconsin, Allen has just 21 catches for 143 yards and no touchdowns. Jonathan Taylor went through something similar. In his first two years, he had 16 total receptions. In his final year, he had 26 receptions and five touchdowns. I think Allen could be in store for something similar.

While Longo was at North Carolina, both Michael Carter and Javonte Williams were used in the passing game. Williams had 50 career receptions and Carter had 82. I would expect this offense to get the running backs involved in the passing game a lot more than we’ve seen the past couple of seasons in Madison.

I’m predicting Allen to get around 20 receptions, getting into the end zone at least three times.

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Christian Borman was born and raised in Wisconsin and covers the Badgers football and basketball programs, plus some recruiting for He previously covered the Wisconsin Badgers for years as the site expert for Badger of Honor of the Fansided Network.