December 7, 2019

Maryland Football: Terps still searching for Big Ten victory, hosting Wisconsin for homecoming holds little hope

(Photo by: Jeff Hanisch/ USA Today)

(Photo by: Jeff Hanisch/ USA Today)

In the past three games, the Maryland Terrapins have looked more competitive relative to blowout losses to West Virginia and Michigan. It it were not for a ridiculous number of turnovers, 11 in the past three games, who knows if the Terps would actually have been able to knock off some of the powerhouses in college football in Ohio State, Penn State, and Iowa. Although probably an easier task against Wisconsin at home compared to Ohio State and Iowa, top ten teams on the road, Maryland will have their work cut out for them to simply keep the student section marginally filled on homecoming.

It might be Maryland’s hardest opponent of the year to muster up any points against because of a fiery Wisconsin defense that is best in the nation at allowing just 11 points per game. The interesting matchup for the Terps offense will be Perry Hills‘ effectiveness on the ground against the seventh ranked rush defense in the country that surrenders just 96 yards on the ground per game. With Mike Locksley retooling the offense around Hills’ legs, the senior quarterback has been able to gain 400 yards on the ground, on a combination of designed runs and scrambles, since returning to the starting fold.

As much as the Maryland running game has not been horrible, the turnover issues are becoming just as much of an issue now as they were when Caleb Rowe was eventually benched. Hills is not the best passer on the team and has struggled on the pressure of the game on the line or in the red zone lately. Twice against Penn State with the chance to take the lead for good Hills had turnovers and even when things looked bleak against Iowa, a red zone pick-six resulted in possibly a 14 point swing in a game Maryland lost by just 16. Locksley has seemed committed to Hills and has proposed that he will not politic for the permanent head coaching job, but failure to win a single conference game could set back “The Movement” of DMV recruiting in a major way.

The biggest reason for the Terps worst loss of the season last year for the first round NFL talent of one Melvin Gordon who rushed for 122 yards and 3 touchdowns. However, Wisconsin has recently gotten back Corey Clement who was equally as effective against Maryland last year. Clement splashed back on the scene for the Badgers with 115 yards and 3 scores on just 11 carries against Rutgers. If he has a repeat performance against Maryland things could get ugly early as the offense will be in catch-up mode where things tend to get even worse.

The dilemma that defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski faces is whether he sells out to stop Clement from wearing down the defense or playing back in an effort to help an erratic, to say the least, secondary. Badgers quarterback Joel Stave might not be an elite talent in the NFL, but his job is made easy when he has an explosive playmaker at his disposal in Alex Erickson. In the past four games Erickson has had consistent production at nearly triple digit receiving yards. Hopefully Maryland has learned their lesson that Sean Davis cannot consistently be counted upon in coverage and have bright spot Will Likely shadow the shifty Erickson throughout the game.

Last year, when Maryland was much more talented of a football team, they were trampled 52-7 in Madison. Surprising as it may seem, things will likely not get that out of hand in College Park but there is still little to no chance that the Terps can pick up a Big Ten conference victory.

Prediction: Maryland Terrapins 10, Wisconsin Badgers 34

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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