BY JEFF BERNIER
The Wisconsin Badgers (7-2) will matchup with the Maryland Terrapins (2-6) at Capitol One Field from College Park, Maryland. The game will feature two teams heading in opposite directions. The Badgers are looking to continue rolling to victories despite being decimated by injuries. The Terrapins are looking for their first conference win of the year.
Wisconsin is making its case for having one of the greatest defensive units in the program’s history. This group leads the nation in scoring defense, giving up just 11 points per game. If you take away the Alabama game, the group is surrendering just 8 points per game. The Badgers defense will be facing a Terrapins offense that is wildly inconsistent and features nearly no true playmakers.
The Badgers will have to deal with Maryland quarterback Perry Hills, who will be just the second mobile quarterback the Badgers defense will have played against this season. The other, Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong, ran for 50 yards and a score. Despite his mobility, Hills has more interceptions than touchdowns on the year, 10 to 7.
Maryland senior running back Brandon Ross has run for 520 yards on the season, averaging an impressive 5.5 yards per tote. Maryland actually is averaging over 30 more yards per game on the ground than the Badgers. The Terrapins will have their hands full however, facing one of the best rushing defenses in the country in Wisconsin.
Outside of Hills and Ross, this is absolute nightmare of a matchup for Maryland.
The Badgers defense, which excels at getting turnovers, will face the most turnover prone team in the country. That’s right; the Terrapins are dead last in turnovers, leading the nation with 28. 20 of those turnovers have come in the team’s last five games, with nine in their last two games played.
Wisconsin’s defense also ranks fifth nationally in pass defense efficiency. Maryland’s offense is second to last in pass efficiency. If games were won and lost on paper, Maryland would be wise to simply forfeit this one.
Star running back Corey Clement returned last week in the Badgers drubbing of Rutgers. Despite just 11 touches, Clement made the most of them, racking up 115 yards and three touchdowns.
Despite not being 100%, Clement provides the Badgers a true top shelf playmaker. Simply put, Wisconsin is a better team with Clement, even if he is performing at only 80%.
Badgers senior quarterback Joel Stave, who has been steady this season, will look to crack 2,000 yards passing Saturday afternoon in College Park. Stave enters the game with 1,974 yards and nine touchdowns. His seven interceptions are somewhat of a concern, but the majority of them have come with the game already well in hand for the Badgers.
Senior wide receiver Alex Erickson continues to be the man for Wisconsin. A veteran of the Badgers offensive scheme, Erickson leads the team with 58 receptions and 748 receiving yards. His 58 catches are the most through nine games in Wisconsin Badgers history.
Wisconsin is still holding out hope of a chance at the Big Ten Championship game. For this to happen, Iowa will have to slip up, possibly twice. The Badgers will have to control what they can control, scoreboard watching notwithstanding. And that control will continue Saturday against Maryland. The game kicks off at 2:30 Central.
Prediction: Wisconsin 42, Maryland 6
Game time: Saturday, November 7, 2:30 PM on BTN, BTN2; Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium, College Park, MD