It was a solid showing for the Wisconsin Badgers on both sides of the ball against the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday. The Badgers came off of a bye week firing on all cylinders--both offensively and defensively. And from the opening drive, a Badgers' victory was never in question.
Maryland was able to convert multiple times on third down in order to keep their first offensive drive going. The key conversion to extend the drive was a 27-yard screen pass from C.J. Brown to Derrick Hayward on third-and-seven which moved the Terrapins down into Badger territory. But the Badgers' defense buckled down after that and forced a fourth-and-twelve situation on the Wisconsin 35-yard line. Maryland head coach Randy Edsall elected to go for it and failed as Brown threw an incomplete pass to Stefon Diggs, turning the ball over to the Wisconsin.
The Badgers wasted no time capitalizing on the good field position, driving 65 yards on four plays. Melvin Gordon carried the ball three times for 22 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown to put the Badgers up 7-0 with 9:11 remaining in the first quarter. Joel Stave got the start for the Badgers and started out strong with his first attempt of the game, throwing a 43-yard completion to Alex Erickson--the Badgers' longest passing play this season to that point--to move the offense down to the Terrapins' 6-yard line.
After holding the Terrapins' offense to a three-and-out on their second drive of the game, the Badgers' took over with good field position once again on their own 47-yard line. Stave started the drive out with another completion to Erickson off of the play action, this time the 16-yard gain moved the Badgers across the 50 to the Terrapins' 37-yard line. After the drive halted three plays later, the Badgers sent Drew Meyer out to punt on fourth-and-nine from the Terrapins' 36 yard line. But Gary Andersen had a trick up his sleeve as Meyer faked the punt and threw a pop pass to Troy Fumagalli for 17 yards to extend the drive. Four plays later, Rafael Gaglianone converted on a 36-yard field goal to give the Badgers' a 10-0 lead with 3:46 remaining in the first quarter.
On the Terrapins' next offense drive, a botched handoff between Brown and tailback Brandon Ross resulted in Vince Biegel recovering the fumble on Maryland's 29-yard line, giving the Badgers excellent field position once again with 2:36 left in the first quarter.
Corey Clement tapped in for Gordon to start the drive, running the ball 5 times for 28 yards down to the goal line. On the first play of the second quarter, Gordon returned to vulture a one-yard touchdown from Clement, giving Gordon his second touchdown of the game as the Badgers extended their lead to 17-0.
Wisconsin's defense continued to shut down the Maryland offense on the next possession, forcing the Terrapins to punt for the second time in the game and giving the Badgers the ball on the their own 35-yard line with 12:19 remaining in the second quarter.
As promised by Andersen and Andy Ludwig throughout the week, Stave was swapped out for Tanner McEvoy to start the Badgers' next drive. McEvoy was effective in his first appearance, going completing 3-of-4 passes for 20 yards through the air while adding 22 yards on two carries in two crucial situations during the drive--a 17-yard scramble on third-and-ten and a 5-yard rush on fourth-and-one. The Badgers moved 65 yards down the field in 11 plays, ending with Gordon finding the end zone for his third touchdown of the game, this time off of a 3-yard run, to give the Badgers a 24-0 lead with 6:40 left in the second quarter.
After the Terrapins failed to get anything going on offense once again, the Badgers took over from their own 18-yard line. Stave returned to the game, but failed to get anything going as the Badgers were forced to punt for the first time. Both teams exchanged punts once more before halftime.
Wisconsin entered the locker room with a 24-0 lead, completely dominating Maryland on both sides of the ball, out-gaining the Terrapins on total yards 221 to 67. The Badgers' passing attack was able to total more yards than the rushing game in the first half, throwing 130 passing yards in the first half on 15 attempts, while running for 91 yards on 24 attempts. Melvin Gordon was the leading rusher for the Badgers, running for 45 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries. Stave was 6-for-10, throwing for 93 yards and no interceptions.
To start the second half, the Badgers drove 32 yards on seven plays, ultimately moving down to the Maryland 43-yard line before having to punt. The Badgers' defense forced another three-and-out on the next drive thanks to a nice tackle by Biegel on third-and-one for a four yard loss. A 14-yard punt return by Kenzel Doe set the Badgers up with great field position on the Maryland 47 with 8:54 to go. On the next play, Stave executed perfectly on a play action pass, finding Erickson in the end zone for a 47-yard touchdown--his first of the game. A Gaglianone extra point extended the Badgers' lead to 31-0 with 8:45 left in the third quarter.
After forcing their sixth straight three-and-out, the Badgers took over with McEvoy in the game once again. But he was unable to pick up a first down and the Badgers forced to punt after a three-and-out of their own. On their next drive (after another Maryland three-and-out), Stave returned to the game as the Badgers drove 57 yards down the field in just four plays. Gordon ran the ball three times for 49 yards during the drive, including his two longest runs of the game to that point--runs of 21 and 22 yards on back to back plays. The drive ended with Stave finding a wide open Sam Arneson in the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown to put the Badgers up 38-0 with 3:31 remaining in the third quarter.
The Badgers would continue pouring it on the Terrapins in the fourth quarter. McEvoy returned to start the quarter and broke off a 60-yard run on the third play of the drive to make the score 45-0 in favor of the Badgers.
With 4:53 left in the game, the Badgers extended the score to 52-0 as Clement found the end zone on a 3-yard touchdown run. The Badgers went 79 yards on 11 plays during the scoring drive; Clement carried the ball nine times for 55 yards.
Maryland scored their first points of the game with 57 seconds left, as Brown was able to find Diggs for a 21-yard touchdown (Diggs first reception of the game), to make the score 52-7, which would hold for the rest of the game.
The Badgers finished with 527 total yards on offense, while their defense held the Terrapins to just 175 yards. Gordon turned in another noteworthy performance, running for 122 yards on 22 carries and scoring all three of his touchdowns in the first half. Stave earned a much-need confidence boost from the win, as he went 9-for-15, throwing for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Erickson led the team with five receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown. The Badgers earned their second straight conference victory, making their record 2-1 in the Big Ten and 5-2 overall.