Wisconsin Badgers vs. Maryland Terrapins: Final Thoughts From The 31-24 Win


The Wisconsin Badgers survived a crazy game on Saturday that resulted in a 31-24 win over the Maryland Terrapins for the Badgers’ fifth straight victory heading into the bye week.

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Special teams played a huge role for the Badgers, both good and bad. Joel Stave played awful in the first half but put together a great second-half performance, and Jack Cichy took advantage of his second consecutive start in place of Chris Orr.

After playing in last week’s game against Rutgers, Corey Clement dealt with soreness all week recovering from his sports hernia surgery and missed his eighth game of the year. Taiwan Deal returned to the field for the first time since Oct. 10 and averaged 4.7 yards per carry on nine attempts for the Badgers.

Wisconsin will look to use this late bye week to get healthier for the final two games of the season. Here are some final thoughts from Saturday’s victory over Maryland on Saturday.

Special Teams Highlights & Lowlights

The Badgers saw the good, the bad and the ugly from their special teams unit on Saturday, and the biggest plays of the game came from special teams.

Return man Will Likely is one of Maryland’s biggest weapons. He is fourth in FBS with a 18.2-yard punt return average and two punt return touchdowns. Likely also brought a kick back for a score this season and ranks third in the Big Ten with a 24.7-yard kickoff return average. Wisconsin began the game trying to avoid him at all costs.

The opening kickoff of the game was short to keep the ball out of Likely’s hands, but Maryland began the first drive from its 47-yard line. The Badgers’ defense forced a three-and-out, but the offense did nothing on its first drive either. In another effort to avoid Likely, Drew Meyer punted the ball out of bounds, but it traveled just 24 yards to the Badgers’ 32, which set up Maryland’s first score.

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  • After that, Wisconsin started to kick the ball deep, and Likely finished with a negative one yard punt return and returned three kicks for 16, 19 and 20 yards.

    Looking back, it would have been nice to see the Badgers trust their kick return coverage teams, which ranks No. 2 in the Big Ten in both punt return coverage as well as kick return coverage with zero return touchdowns allowed.

    However, the special teams was not all bad. When Wisconsin found itself down 7-0, Natrell Jamerson tied the game with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. On the next possession, Joe Schobert carried the ball 57 yards on a fake punt, which led to a Dare Ogunbowale 21-yard touchdown on the next play.

    Meyer made his second mistake of the day when he held onto the ball too long, and his punt was blocked to set up another Terrapins’ touchdown to tie the game at 17 before halftime.

    Rafael Gaglianone missed a 42-yard field goal that would have given the Badgers a three-possession lead with 4:06 left to play. Maryland took advantage and cut the lead to seven before the final big special teams play of the game.

    The Terrapins executed an onside kick, which was recovered by Maryland’s Sean Davis, but Jarrett Ross was offsides on the opposite side of the field. The mental mistake cost the Terrapins, as Alex Erickson recovered the rekick to give Wisconsin the win.

    Joel Stave’s Wild Day

    Just like the special teams, the Badgers received good and bad versions of Joel Stave on Saturday. Stave looked off from his first pass of the game that should have went for a pick-six. His second pass missed an open receiver, and the third attempt was picked off. Without a consistent running game, he needed to step up in the first half against one of the worst defenses in the Big Ten. Stave finished the first half 3 of 8 for 20 yards and the interception.

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    However, Stave looked like a completely different player coming out of the locker room in the second half. He led Wisconsin to two long drives, and Stave completed nine of 10 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown to give Wisconsin a two-possession lead. Stave finished 12 of 16 for 168 yards and a touchdown in the second half.

    While the roller coaster ride that is Joel Stave might be a frustrating one, head coach Paul Chryst said he never thought of benching him at halftime. Stave going to be the quarterback for the Badgers the rest of the season barring injury no matter how inconsistent.

    Jack Cichy Round 2

    True freshman inside linebacker Chris Orr missed his second consecutive game with a leg injury, and redshirt sophomore Jack Cichy filled in nicely both times. Cichy finished with a game-high 10 tackles with three for loss, including two sacks. It was a nice follow-up performance from the Rutgers game when he tied for a team high with eight tackles and had a pass break up.

    With the bye coming up this week, Orr will have two weeks to get healthy, but Wisconsin’s coaches know that Cichy can fill in nicely with Orr sidelined. Cichy is making the case to be the fourth starting linebacker spot next season with the departure of Schobert, who will be graduating.

    Next: Bye Week Will Help Badgers Get Healthy

    Wisconsin kept pace with the Iowa Hawkeyes, who remain a half game ahead of the Badgers in the Big Ten West Division standings. Wisconsin needs at least two Iowa losses in the final three weeks for a shot at a conference title game appearance.