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Studs and Duds: Wisconsin Football Readies For Rutgers Clash

Fresh off of the bye week, Wisconsin football is preparing to take on the 4-1 Rutgers Scarlet Knights.



Wisconsin Badgers Football head coach Luke Fickell vs. Purdue
Wisconsin Badgers head coach Luke Fickell talks to an official during the NCAA football game against the Purdue Boilermakers, Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind. Wisconsin Badgers won 38-17.

Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin football team has taken a different approach to the normal kick-back and relaxed feel of a collegiate bye week. If there is one thing that has been on the radar of the Badgers, it is winning dominantly.

Head Coach Luke Fickell was hired by Wisconsin to bring forth a new-look competitive squad that would bring home Championships. Thus far, Fickell and company have struggled to find their identity against tough competition.

Initially, the 31-22 loss to Washington State in Pullman looked to be a significant upset. However, the Cougars are now ranked 13th in the Nation as the Badgers aim to put everything together against Rutgers.

Wisconsin Football, Rutgers Scarlet Knights Destined For Collision Course 

The Wisconsin football (3-1, 1-0) team is set to take on Rutgers (4-1, 1-1) during the early kickoff on the Peacock Streaming app. Rutgers began the year with wins over Northwestern, Temple, and Virginia Tech before losing to #2 Michigan. While Wisconsin was practicing hard during their bye week, Rutgers dismantled Wagner in a 52-3 showing. The Scarlet Knights entered the game as 46-point favorites and easily won as they displayed the true capabilities of their offense and defense, which is something the Badgers have yet to do.

With no official practice reports and no game during the bye week, this edition of ‘Studs and Duds’ will be different. For the fourth installment, this edition will follow early season patterns. Now, take a look below at the studs and duds of the Wisconsin football program in 2023.

Wisconsin Badgers’ Studs: Nathanial Vakos, Tucker Ashcraft, Braelon Allen

Through the first four games, the Wisconsin football team has had a number of individuals stand-out. Transfer kicker Nathanial Vakos was one of the more interesting members of the Wisconsin recruiting class. Vakos has been known to be a strong, accurate kicker and was expected to compete for the starting job immediately.

Not only has Vakos taken over the primary kicking duties for the Badgers, but he also has not missed a kick yet this season. Vakos is a perfect 21-for-21 between field goals and extra points for a staggering 35 points.

Another player who has also stepped up for the Wisconsin Badgers football team is tight end Tucker Ashcraft. Since joining the Badgers, the Freshman tight end has fit right into the offense as a versatile blocker with plenty of catching ability. Despite a bad performance against Georgia Southern, Ashcraft bounced back with a stellar game against Purdue.

While the 2023 season has not gone how Badgers’ fans expected for running back Braelon Allen, the star player is still a stud thus far. Allen has faced a significant reduction in his touches this season. Allen has 68 touches thus far this year, which is 11 less than he had through the first four games a year ago. Despite his reduced touches, Allen is still the highest-graded offensive player for the Badgers, earning him a spot as a ‘stud’.

Wisconsin Football Duds: Tanner Mordecai, Jordan Turner, Kamo’i Latu

Unfortunately, not every player on the Wisconsin Badgers football team has had a great season thus far. Three players in particular were expected to lead the Badgers going into the season. However, all three have struggled in different ways through the first four games.

The once sensational transfer quarterback Tanner Mordecai has been a major topic of discussion. Realistically, Mordecai has played rather well for the Badgers, especially on the ground. However, the quarterback has not yet opened up the offense through the air. Through four games, Mordecai seems more comfortable but still not his typical self.

Another leader who has struggled for Wisconsin football has been linebacker Jordan Turner. Turner has disappeared on the stat sheet at times this season, which is odd for a tackling machine like himself. Turner has only recorded 16 tackles through the first four games. The veteran linebacker is still adjusting to a new defense, but hopefully, he can return to his old form.

Wisconsin football has also seen another one of their top players from a season ago struggle thus far in 2023. Safety Kamo’i Latu currently has the lowest defensive and tackling grades on the Wisconsin football team, which comes as a major surprise. Latu has by far struggled the most with the defensive changes under Mike Tressel. Hopefully, with a bye week to work out the issues, Latu should come back to his form against Rutgers.

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Jarrett Guerrera is a graduate of Western New England University with a Bachelor's in English. Jarrett played rugby at the collegiate level, and has been a sports fanatic all his life. Jarrett is also a contributor for Wisconsin Sports Heroics.