On a day that was very Wisconsin-like in terms of the weather, as the seasons seemed to change as the game progressed, the Wisconsin Badgers (5-4, 3-3 conference) dominated the Maryland Terrapins (6-3, 3-3 conference), 23-10 in the wind, rain and cold.
With high winds and rain for most of the game, neither team had much luck throwing the ball, as both teams passed for just 77 yards.
Maryland, whose passing game is the hallmark of its offense, entered the game averaging 283 yards per game through the air.
With its passing attack hindered, Maryland finished 5-for-17 on third down and was only 1-for-8 on third down in the first half.
Maryland, who is known as a second half team, having most of its success following halftime, not only bettered its offense in the second half, but it also tightened the screws defensively, limiting Wisconsin’s third down success in the second half, to just 1-of-7, after Wisconsin was 4-of-9 in the first half (5-of-16 total).
While neither team could establish its passing attack, the running game truly favored Wisconsin and proved to be the difference in the game, as the Badgers outrushed Maryland, 278-112.
For the first time this season, Wisconsin had two 100-yard rushers as both Braelon Allen and Isaac Guerendo eclipsed the century mark.
Allen, who scored the games first touchdown finished with 119 yards on 23 carries, while Guerendo rushed for a career-high, 114 yards on 12 carries, including an 89-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, which bested his previous career-long of 82 yards.
Skyler Bell also set a new career-high with 52 rushing yards, as he carried the ball three times. Bell wasn’t able to record a reception in the game, for the first time this season.
With Graham Mertz finishing 5-of-18 for 77 yards, there weren’t many completions to go around, as Mertz completed passes to just three receivers, with Chimere Dike hauling in three receptions for 32 yards — all of which came on third down conversions, with Jackson Acker (24 yards) and Keontez Lewis (21 yards) each catching one pass.
The combination of Wisconsin’s defense and the weather made things difficult for the Terrapins as Wisconsin outgained Maryland, 355-189.
Maryland’s 189 total yards was the lowest a Wisconsin opponent has gained since Wisconsin held Iowa to 156 yards on Oct. 30, 2021.
A big reason for Wisconsin’s defensive success was Nick Herbig, who missed Wisconsin’s victory over Purdue.
Herbig returned to action against Maryland, with two sacks, four tackles and three tackles for loss.
Wisconsin also got sacks from Keeanu Benton, Maema Njongmeta and C.J. Goetz, as they sacked Taulia Tagovailoa five times.
However, even when Wisconsin wasn’t able to get to Tagovailoa in the backfield, they were still able to disrupt his passes as four different players recorded pass breaks ups — Jay Shaw, Jordan Turner, Rodas Johnson and Herbig. While Hunter Wohler intercepted Tagovailoa in his first game back, after missing the last six games.
Wisconsin now has 15 interceptions as a team and is tied with Illinois for the NCAA lead.
A trio of Badgers recorded a team-high six tackles in the game — Kamo’i Latu, Njongmeta and Turner, who has now recorded six-or-more tackles in three consecutive games.
As mentioned earlier, Tagovailoa and the Maryland offense were only able to pass for 77 yards in the game. The Maryland quarterback finished 10 or 23 passing, with one touchdown and the interception thrown to Wohler.
Tagavailoa’s previous lowest passing performance this season was 207 yards and his 77 yards against Wisconsin is now his career-low, at Maryland, with his previous low coming in 2020 against Northwester (94 yards).
Tagovailoa’s lone touchdown pass went to Tai Felton, with about a minute remaining in the game.
Badger kicker Nat Van Zelst rounded out the scoring for Wisconsin, finishing three of four in the game, connecting on field goals from 38, 35 and 28 yards. His only miss came from 33 yards.
Van Zelst is now 5-of-7 on the season, filling in for the injured Vito Calvaruso.
With the win today, Wisconsin has now won back-to-back games for the first time this season and interim coach Jim Leonhard, imrpoved to 3-1, since taking over team.
Wisconsin travels to Iowa next weekend, for a Big Ten West match-up with the Hawkeyes (5-4, 3-3 conference).