Wisconsin football: 3 biggest offseason questions facing Badgers in 2021

Paul Chryst, Wisconsin Badgers. (Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)

After a down year for Paul Chryst’s program, the Wisconsin football team must push forward into the 2021 offseason.

2020 was a tough year for all of us, but hopefully, it is one the Wisconsin football team can learn from.

The Wisconsin Badgers have been one of the best college football teams in the Big Ten this century. Since conference divisional realignment, the Badgers have dominated the Big Ten West. However, COVID-19 issues and offensive inconsistencies prevented the Badgers from winning another division title. With that behind them, Wisconsin should be in the mix to get to Indianapolis.

What could be challenging for the Badgers is the Big Ten West boasts several other strong teams. The Iowa Hawkeyes could have their best team in half a decade, while the Northwestern Wildcats have proven they can hang with anybody. Add in the Minnesota Golden Gophers bouncing back too under P.J. Fleck and the Badgers will have their work cut out for them this 2021 offseason.

3 biggest offseason questions for the Wisconsin Badgers

3. How do the Badgers build on another strong recruiting class?

Despite the Badgers not getting it done to their liking on the gridiron last year, Wisconsin continues to recruit at a tremendously high level under Chryst. While Wisconsin is probably never going to have a top-10 recruiting class due to the lack of top-tier talent in-state, the Badgers did land the No. 15 class in the most recent cycle, according to the 247Sports Composite.

Wisconsin finished third in the Big Ten behind the usual suspects of the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines, in that order. The Badgers landed 21 players in 2021, including five-star offensive lineman Nolan Rucci, prying him out of Pennsylvania and away from the Big Ten-contending Penn State Nittany Lions. They also landing five four-star recruits this past cycle.

Rucci is Wisconsin’s second greatest recruit in program history. He is joined by two four-star offensive tackle prospects this year in JP Benzschawel and Riley Mahlman. Once again, Wisconsin’s greatest strength as a program just got even stronger. For that reason, Wisconsin could have one of the best offensive lines in the country in 2022 and beyond because of this class.

Ultimately, Chryst and his staff need to continue to find players in the Midwestern United States who fit the program’s philosophical ethos. If they can continue to land more quality players outside of their borders, such as Rucci out of Pennsylvania and Mahlman out of Minnesota, this will go a long way towards the Badgers staying in the mix for Big Ten West division titles for years.

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