Can Tanner Mordecai make Wisconsin a contender again?

Picture this: it’s 2017. Fidget spinners are all the rage, but more importantly, Wisconsin is one of the best college football teams in the nation. The Badgers were coming off three straight seasons with ten or more wins, but 2017 took that to a whole new level. 

Although they fell just short of a playoff berth after a loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship, Wisconsin ended up finishing 13-1. That was essentially the last time the Badgers were relevant in the college football world. 

It was a swift fall for Wisconsin and Paul Chryst, who was fired last season after years of mediocrity. However, a new era has begun for the Badgers. Luke Fickell has finally taken the jump to a Power 5 program. 

With Graham Mertz transferring to Florida, the job looked to be wide open. Mertz had his ups and downs, but his departure left Fickell with a sparse group at QB. Cue transfer Tanner Mordecai


Coming out of Midway High School in Waco, Texas, Tanner Mordecai was a four star prospect and the 11th ranked dual threat QB in the 2018 class according to 247. With numerous Power 5 options on the table, Mordecai committed to Oklahoma. It made sense. Lincoln Riley and the Sooners had a reputation of producing quarterbacks: Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray both shined in Norman.

The same things that made Oklahoma a desirable destination soon forced Mordecai out. After Jalen Hurts transferred from Alabama and Spencer Rattler drew playing time as a Freshman, Mordecai decided to transfer to SMU. 

SMU was a great fit for Mordecai. He was able to get consistent playing time and show off his talent in two seasons with the Mustangs. Rather than enter the NFL draft, he opted to transfer to Wisconsin and prove he can see the same success at a higher level. 

Mordecai dominated defenses in the AAC, throwing for 7,152 yards, 72 touchdowns and only 22 interceptions. He put of video game numbers and also flashed his arm strength with plays like this:


Tanner Mordecai looks to be the perfect fit for Luke Fickell’s offensive scheme. At Cincinnati, Fickell valued dual-threat quarterbacks and heavily utilized the run-pass option. Although the stats don’t reflect it, Mordecai is perfectly capable of running the ball when needed. Just check out this huge run he broke off while at SMU:

So, can Mordecai bring Wisconsin back to their glory days? This year is as good as any. In a lackluster Big Ten West, the Badgers could take advantage of an easy schedule and advance to the conference championship. 

The Badgers offense looks to be potent this year, with Mordecai throwing to some new receivers, including C.J. Williams and Bryson Green. Williams, a top ten WR in the 2022 class, transfers over from USC while Bryson Green comes to Madison from Oklahoma State. If the offensive line is sufficient, look for this offense to be high-octane. 

It remains to be seen whether Wisconsin can reach the heights they did in 2017. However, Luke Fickell and Tanner Mordecai will ensure that the Badgers will be a sneaky team in 2023.