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Maryland vs. Wisconsin: Team effort leads to dominant 52-7 win against Terrapins

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All three phases of the game came together, along with returning some previously injured starters, to shell shock Maryland.

Mike McGinnis

The box score of Saturday's 52-7 victory by the Wisconsin Badgers over the Maryland Terrapins will showcase many individual efforts.

Junior running back Melvin Gordon went over the century mark again in rushing yards -- the sixth time in seven games this season -- and added three more touchdown runs to his Heisman run. Junior quarterback Joel Stave threw for two touchdown passes and opened up the passing game to another junior, wide receiver Alex Erickson, who had 121 yards receiving. The defense had its standouts lead by its senior linebackers, as Marcus Trotter had two tackles for loss (TFLs) and a sack in his return from a groin injury, and Derek Landisch lead the team with eight tackles on the afternoon.

The special teams had their moments as well. Junior punter Drew Meyer perfectly executed a punt fake with a 17-yard "pop pass" to redshirt freshman tight end Troy Fumagalli to extend Wisconsin's second offensive drive of the game, and sophomore kicker Andrew Endicott averaged 64 yards per kickoff and had four touchbacks -- limiting Maryland's potent return game.

Yet a lot of the messages after the game from Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen and players echoed a full team effort that overwhelmed Maryland.

"A lot of individual efforts that are out there," Andersen said, "but I think it's important with the youth on this team and everything that's out there is we talk about a team victory, and that's what this was."

It was a complete game for the Badgers. The offense, known to be carried by its running game that lead all FBS schools coming into the game, became multi-dimensional against the Terrapins' defense. The combination of Stave, Tanner McEvoy and Meyer combined for 216 yards through the air. Stave completed two deep passes to Erickson for 43 and 47 yards -- a missing piece that stretches defenses and keeps them honest.

McEvoy only threw seven passes but completed five of them, but he did more damage with his legs on the ground with designed runs and read options called by offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. McEvoy rushed four times for 84 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter that -- in keeping with the team aspect -- included some nice downfield blocking by wide receivers George RushingRobert Wheelwright and Reggie Love to help spring the junior quarterback.

"I think we got a good relationship," Stave said, when asked about sharing snaps and the offense with McEvoy.

"I think the dual-quarterback system is really moving in the right direction. I thought we both did some good things. I think we both showed that we have talents that we can really use to help the offense, so I think we're definitely going in the right direction."

"They handle it well," Andersen said, "the kids on the team handle it well, and I have no reservations at all saying that we are going to move forward and have the ability to play both of those young men, and they've executed at a high level, and you can see the offense change."

The defense had seven TFLs for the afternoon -- 6 1/2 of those came from defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's linebackers and forced the Terrapins to turnover on downs twice. Landisch, Trotter, and sophomore Joe Schobert were the top three in tackles with 8, 6 and 5, respectively.

What was even more impressive, however, was the performance of the secondary against Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The combination of cornerbacks Darius Hillary, Sojourn Shelton, and Derrick Tindal held the junior without a reception until Maryland's last offensive play when Diggs beat junior Devin Gaulden for a 21-yard touchdown reception.

Combined with stopping the mobile, senior quarterback C.J. Brown to only 14 yards on 13 carries, and the defense held Maryland's offense to only 175 yards on 3.1 yards per play.

"Our defense played tremendous today," junior fullback Derek Watt said, who returned Saturday from a foot injury.

"They balled out and they did everything they possibly could, and they made us look good. They gave us some short fields, and we just did our part then. I think today, was a big team victory, where everyone was kind of clicking on all cylinders and things fell into place pretty well."

Special teams was a concern in the Illinois game two weeks ago, as the punting game did not change the field position game in Wisconsin's favor. Couple that with a dangerous punt returner in sophomore cornerback Will Likely, who led the Big Ten Conference in punt return yardage, and many thought that could make the Badgers vulnerable.

The combination of Meyer and sophomore quarterback Bart Houston -- who hit a 52-yard rugby-style punt in the second quarter -- along with the punt coverage team, did not allow Likely any return yardage.

The same worries came with the Badgers' kickoff return unit. As Diggs is an NFL-caliber receiver, he also led the conference in kickoff return average as well. Aside from a 41-yard return in the third quarter, Wisconsin held the lethal returner at bay, not allowing the Terrapins any momentum to alter the game.

"Today was basically just kick the ball pretty much as hard as you can and we'll see what happens," Endicott said.

"I had a couple good kicks down there, but the cover team really did the job well today and really held them to not a lot of yards."