We’ve seen teams make the miraculous jump from simply achieving bowl game eligibility to being selected to the College Football Playoff on multiple occasions.
Whether it was TCU’s incredible 2022 campaign where they managed to down Michigan in the semi-finals or Cincinnati’s undefeated run to the playoff led by Luke Fickell.
Fans are now beginning to debate which team is going to make that jump in 2023, and CBS Sports believes the Wisconsin Badgers could be next in line.
Following a turbulent 2022 season, Wisconsin athletic director Chris McIntosh essentially overhauled the entire program. He then hired Luke Fickell to be the new head coach for the Badgers.
When forming his new staff, Fickell hired Phil Longo to be the next offensive coordinator. Longo, an accomplished coach known for utilizing the air-raid offense, has quickly made his mark on the program. Fans who have grown accustomed to watching a ground-and-pound offense will now need to keep their eyes on the field or risk missing a play. Throughout spring ball, the offense was consistently snapping the ball with over 20 seconds remaining on the play clock.
To run this new offensive system, Longo brought QB Tanner Mordecai from SMU to lead the team and multiple transfer WRs to add to a previously small group.
It isn’t a surprise to see the Badgers being chosen as a potential CFB Playoff team, however, the team still needs to prove they are remotely close to playoff caliber.
In 2021, the Badgers went 9-4 in RB Braelon Allen’s debut season where he managed to steal the show as the 17-year-old phenomenon. The Badgers were a win away from a Big Ten Championship Game appearance, yet couldn’t manage to beat their arch-rival Gophers in the final game of the regular season.
In 2022, the Badgers finished 7-6 and were one of the more unimpressive teams in the Big Ten. They lacked a consistent offense, but their defense managed to finish as one of the top units in the country yet again.
In 2023, it will be crucial for the Badgers to jump off to a quick start, something they have struggled with in the past 2 seasons. It will be interesting to watch how Fickell gets the team ready to play from the jump, and if the Badgers can carry this momentum throughout the entirety of the season.
If the Badgers can play up to the expectations that media experts are placing on them, then don’t be surprised to see them win 10+ games. However, if it ends up taking longer than expected to implement the new offensive scheme, this Badgers squad could struggle again and miss the Big Ten Championship Game for the 5th season in a row.
Regardless, it is still an honor to be in the conversation for the playoff, and it seems like the Badgers are headed in the right direction once again.