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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Wisconsin finds balance, routs Maryland by 45

UW welcomes Terrapins to Big Ten with combination of strong offensive and defensive
Joey Reuteman

The Wisconsin football team has had a tough time finding a balance this year, but that wasn’t the case Saturday afternoon.

Following a bye week, the Badgers (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) turned in one of their best performances of the season in a 52-7 rout of Big Ten-newcomer Maryland (5-3, 2-2).

Not only did that rout include multiple touchdowns in both rushing and passing for the first time this season, but the defense held the Terrapins scoreless until the final minute when the second team defense was on the field.


“We talk about a team victory and that’s what this was,” UW head coach Gary Andersen said. “We played well on offense. We played well on defense. We played well on special teams. There was numerous, numerous players that contributed in a big way. That’s when you’ve got yourself moving in the right direction.”

The Badgers’ defense took to the field for the game’s opening drive, and responded in an important situation to help set the tone for the game. After a big home win against Iowa a week ago, the Terrapins picked up where they left off during their first possession. A 27-yard pass from Maryland quarterback CJ Brown to Derrick Hayward highlighted the drive and moved the ball all the way to the Wisconsin 33-yard line. But following a two-yard rush by Brown, the Badgers defense forced an incomplete pass followed up by a sack of Brown to bring up a 4th-and-12. 

Maryland wound up going for it on fourth down, but couldn’t complete a long pass, and that was as close as it got to scoring until the final quarter.

“We got a good stop on fourth down,” linebacker Vince Biegel said. “I think we just carried that momentum. With the addition of the offense scoring, and carried that the rest of the way to the fourth quarter.” 

That early momentum from the defensive stop translated into success for the Badgers’ offense, which put them up for good in just four plays. Running back Melvin Gordon rushed for 16 yards total between the first two plays to create some room for the passing attack.

On first down from the Maryland 49-yard line, Wisconsin went to play action and quarterback Joel Stave completed what was at the time the longest pass of the season, a 44-yard strike to Alex Erickson down the right sideline. A play later, Gordon found the end zone to give Wisconsin a 7-0 lead, one that it never relinquished.

The Badgers’ passing game, which didn’t account for any scores two weeks ago against Illinois, managed to take advantage of a Terrapins’ defense expecting the run.

“It was nice to take a shot and land a shot early,” Erickson said. “Just to show that we’re going to keep going deep. [Maryland can] keep loading the box. We’ll keep taking shots.”

Wisconsin tacked on a field goal near the end of the first quarter at the 3:46 mark, but one of the more pivotal plays of the early going again came from the defense. On the heels of moving the chains, Brown had a bad exchange on a handoff that led to a fumble. Biegel pounced on the ball for the Badgers at the Maryland 29-yard line, and the offense did the rest of the work.

After five straight rushes from Corey Clement, Gordon punched it in again on the first play of the second quarter to put Wisconsin up 17-0.

Gordon, who finished with 122 yards on the ground, would run for his third score of the half with 6:40 remaining, but the passing game actually had more success in the first 30 minutes. Stave and Tanner McEvoy combined for 113 total yards with completions on nine of 14 passes, while the rushing attack had only 91 net yards through two quarters.

Stave, who had 93 of the team’s 130 passing yards, continued his success in the second half. On Wisconsin’s second possession of the third quarter, Stave took the Badgers the length of the field in just one play. Again Wisconsin used the play action — this time with a fake jet sweep — and Stave connected with Erickson on a 47-yard bomb down the middle, as Erickson beat double coverage to make it a comfortable 31-0 edge.

Before Saturday, Wisconsin had completed just two pass plays for more than 30 yards. But in his second start of the season, Stave showed signs of his form from a year ago and had the two longest completions of the year in the same game.

[Stave] was happy,” Gordon said. “The deep balls is what he do, so to see him go out there and do that — it can really open up the offense.”

While the offense continued to rack up the points, the defense continued its stifling outing. With the returns of linebacker Marcus Trotter and defensive end Warren Herring, the Badgers turned in what Biegel stated was their best performance of the season. Wisconsin allowed just 10 first downs, four of which came on the Terrapins final drive in the waning minutes, and it gave up just 129 yards through the air to a passing offense ranked 2nd in the Big Ten.

Although the overall numbers from the offense weren’t anything gaudy, the final margin of victory and how the Badgers achieved it show a big improvement from the team that lost at Northwestern just three weeks ago.

“Ups and downs, backs and forths — that’s football. I’m proud of where these kids are,” Andersen said. “But it’s great to start the second half of the season with a convincing victory.”

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