Wisconsin Football Recruiting Talent Disparity Could Come Back to Haunt Badgers Against Top-10 Teams

By David Hayes
Northwestern v Wisconsin
Northwestern v Wisconsin / Dylan Buell/Getty Images

While troves of eagerly optimistic college football fans of programs ranked outside the top 10 tend to harp on the "they make them play the games for a reason" cliché, head coaches like Alabama's Nick Saban or Georgia's Kirby Smart will be the first to tell you that each season has already been won or lost on National Signing Day every February.

Even though blue-blood programs like Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia and LSU have dominated the recruiting game for the better part of a decade, all but one of the current top-10 teams in the latest Week 6 AP Top-25 Poll haven't followed too far behind in that department.

And that one outlier in that regard is the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers.

In a sport where success is rooted in recruiting top talent, Wisconsin sits exactly 30 combined four- and five-star recruits behind the next closest top-10 team, the No. 10 Florida Gators.

For further perspective, No. 1 Alabama (11), No. 3 Georgia (14) and No. 4 Ohio State (13) all have more five-star recruits than Wisconsin has four- and five-star recruits combined.

In Wisconsin's defense, the limited amount of blue-chip talent the Badgers do have on the field have looked phenomenal to start the season, headlined by the Badgers' 35-14 thrashing of then-No. 11 Michigan in Week 4.

However, when it comes to evaluating an under-matched team like the Badgers and its competitive ceiling, the proof is simply in the pudding when reading into the recruiting class compositions of each of the last 10 college football national champions.

Between both 247Sports.com and ESPN's college football recruiting class rankings from every year since 2009, we've never seen a national championship roster without at least two top-10 annually-ranked recruiting classes contributing from the four years (classes) leading up to that title.

In fact, all 10 of the last national championship teams average a flat No. 6-ranked recruiting class across each of their four most recent classes on each title roster, respectively.

So how do the Badgers compare to those thresholds, you ask? Not very well, to say the least. Even if you include the 2015 class of current would-be redshirt seniors for a full five-year sample size, Wisconsin has never even cracked a top-25 recruiting class rank.

The Badgers' best class during that span is the 2019 freshman class, which ESPN ranked No. 28 and 247Sports ranked No. 29 in the nation. As for the last four years, Wisconsin also averages a troubling 37th-ranked recruiting class.

If that wasn't enough call for concern, Wisconsin has gone 1-5 in its six games against the recent titans of recruiting (Alabama, Ohio State, LSU) since 2014. Those teams have combined to outscore the Badgers, 211-99, across those six games. The Badgers' next test of this caliber comes on the road in Columbus in Week 9 against current No. 4 Ohio State. And wouldn't you know it, the Buckeyes are led by a former five-star quarterback recruit, Justin Fields.

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David Hayes is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, David Hayes also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username DavidWHayes. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.