Wisconsin cracks ESPN’s post-spring top 25
The Badger football team was ranked inside of ESPN’s post-spring top 25 rankings Wednesday, landing at the back end of the list according to senior writer Mark Schlabach.
Prior to the spring session, Wisconsin was not ranked in the top 25 by ESPN, so progress has been made in the eye’s of the nation’s top sports media outlet. Most notably, the Badgers have transitioned away from the ground and pound offensive mindset and are looking to open up the field over the top with their new offensive coordinator Phil Longo and his “Air Raid” offense.
Pair that with the defensive prowess of head coach Luke Fickell and his defensive coordinator Mike Tressel, the Badgers are in a good spot to compete in the Big Ten in 2023.
Here’s how the Big Ten conference panned out on ESPN’s rankings:
2. Michigan Wolverines
Nov 19, 2022; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines Players celebrate after the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Michigan sits at the top of the Big Ten and second overall in the country heading into quarterback J.J. McCarthy’s second full season under center, while star running back Blake Corum returns for a fourth season and is paired with Donovan Edwards in the backfield. After the embarrassing 51-45 loss to TCU in the Fiesta Bowl last season, there are no excuses for Jim Harbaugh and his Wolverines in 2023.
Sat., Jan. 1, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day celebrates following the Buckeyes’ 48-45 victory against the Utah Utes in the 108th Rose Bowl Game.
Ryan Day and his Buckeyes find themselves in foreign territory, operating outside of the top five on a national rankings list, but here they are. Moving on from quarterback CJ Stroud, who was drafted second overall by the Texans, Day’s offense will have a new signal-caller. Junior Kyle McCord and sophomore Devin Brown are currently in a position battle, leaving much uncertainty at QB. That being said, with Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson in the backfield and Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka at receiver, Ohio State’s offense remains elite.
8. Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State players laugh as they pretend to drop the Governor’s Victory Bell trophy after defeating Minnesota, 45-17, in a White Out game at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in State College.
Penn State is coming off of a massively successful 11-2 campaign in 2022 and James Franklin and his squad are well-liked heading into this season. Sophomore quarterback Drew Allar will replace long-time starter Sean Clifford under center with Allar being a former No. 2 pocket passer in the class of 2022. Pairing him with Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen in the backfield, the Nittany Lions have a real shot at competing in the Big Ten this year.
25. Wisconsin Badgers
PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 27: Head coach Luke Fickell of the Wisconsin Badgers runs onto the field to call a time out during the second half of the Guaranteed Rate Bowl against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Chase Field on December 27, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
Now in his first official season at the helm, Luke Fickell will look to build off the momentum that he has created this offseason through personnel changes, transfer additions and recruiting success. With former SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai under center and Phil Longo’s “Air Raid” offense, Wisconsin will try and flip the script on their passing game. With both Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi in the backfield in 2023, the Badgers’ offense could be one of the most dangerous in the country if they can open up the field in the air.
NR: Iowa Hawkeyes
Oct 30, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz looks on during warmups prior to the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
After initially being ranked inside the top 25 prior to spring football, Kirk Ferentz and his Hawkeyes have been displaced. Always a great defensive team, Iowa has become a tough watch offensively in recent years. With Michigan transfer Cade McNamara now under center, they’ll look to turn that around in 2023 and could be a sleeper team in the Big Ten.