​Badger QB Mordecai Hoping for a Successful Finale

December 31, 2023

Badger QB Mordecai Hoping for a Successful Finale

By Joey Johnston

Tanner Mordecai's solo season with the Wisconsin Badgers didn't work out exactly as planned. He suffered a broken hand on Oct. 15, then returned for the final three games, helping the Badgers to a pair of victories that put them in the New Year's Day ReliaQuest Bowl at Raymond James Stadium.

Mordecai is hoping for a successful finale when the Big Ten Conference's Badgers (7-5) face the SEC's LSU Tigers (9-3).

"It's different,'' Mordecai said. "Bittersweet, for sure. But just looking back at all my experiences and the relationships I've formed, I wouldn't change anything. It would be great to go out with a victory.''

Mordecai joined the Badgers, coinciding with Coach Luke Fickell's first season at Wisconsin, after passing for 7,152 yards and 72 touchdowns in two seasons with the SMU Mustangs.

Mordecai's nomadic career began at Oklahoma (2018-20), where he appeared in two games as a backup to Kyler Murray, who won the Heisman Trophy. He competed with Jalen Hurts the Alabama transfer, in 2019 and was again the backup. In 2020, the COVID season, he was once again a backup (notice a trend here?), this time to Spencer Rattler.

SMU is where Mordecai came into his own.

Due to the injury, it came off the rails at Wisconsin, where Mordecai completed 64.6 percent of his passes for 1,688 yards and six touchdowns with four interceptions.

Against LSU, the Badgers will be without running back Braylon Allen, a 1,062-yard rusher, who opted out to prepare for the NFL draft. That was never a consideration for Mordecai, who is relishing one more opportunity to play college football.

"We obviously had some really high expectations for ourselves,'' Mordecai said. "We didn't meet those things. But I mean, that's 95-percent of college football. Everybody wants to win their conference and contend for a national championship, but there's only a handful of teams that can do those things.

"It's difficult because we didn't accomplish those things. But we did have some really big wins for this program, especially the two at the end of the season (when the Badgers defeated Nebraska and Minnesota). Those were big building blocks for the program, for recruiting and for what Coach Fickell is doing.''

As Mordecai exits, ironically enough, the Badgers might rely on another transfer quarterback for 2024 as Tyler Van Dyke has arrived from Miami. Mordecai has a relationship with Van Dyke and presented positive reviews before the Miami-to-Wisconsin transfer decision was made.

"Wisconsin is a great place with a great culture,'' Mordecai said. "All of the families of the players, they tailgate together before games. You just don't see that. It's a special place. Lots of programs talk about their family atmosphere, but it's very real at Wisconsin.

"I'm glad I got to be a part of it. And I'm glad I have one more shot to show who I am.''

That shot will come against a LSU team that was picked in the preseason as a prime national championship contender. Mordecai can't wait for that challenge.

"Obviously, LSU is very athletic and very fast,'' Mordecai said. "They play with their hair on fire. We're excited to play against an opponent like that and show what we can do.''

After a star-crossed career, filled with ups and downs, Mordecai gets one more shot.

"More than anything, I'm grateful for that,'' he said.