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Maryland Terrapins vs. Wisconsin Badgers Preview and Prediction

Alex Hornibrook

Alex Hornibrook

For only the third time, the Maryland Terrapins will be facing the Wisconsin Badgers. Maryland has previously played at Wisconsin in 2014 (lost 52-7) and hosted the Badgers in '15 (lost 31-24). The Terrapins are looking to snap a two-game losing streak, while Wisconsin enters this contest undefeated.

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Maryland started the season with an impressive road win at Texas but has slumped to a record of 3-3. Key injuries at the quarterback position have impacted the Terrapins offensively, as Maryland is down to its third-string quarterback in Max Bortenschlager. Maryland lost to Northwestern last week, 37-21.

Wisconsin is coming off a close win against Purdue, 17-9. While Wisconsin has not always dominated its opponents, the Badgers come into this game against Maryland already in possession of bowl eligibility by virtue of their six wins. The Badgers are winning this year in their traditional method of a strong offensive line and a relentless running game. They are led on the ground by freshman running back sensation Jonathan Taylor, who is leading the Big Ten and is third in the country with 986 rushing yards.

Maryland at Wisconsin

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 21 at 12 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Wisconsin -24

Three Things to Watch

1. Wisconsin's running game vs. Maryland's run defense

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The aforementioned Wisconsin running game currently ranks first in the Big Ten, averaging 264 yards per game on the ground. Maryland's run defense ranks near the bottom of conference, giving up about 178 yards per game on the ground. If Wisconsin is able to establish a dominant running game, the Badgers will be able to control the clock and tire out the Terrapins' defense.

Related: Outrageous College Football Predictions for Week 8

2. Wisconsin's play-action passing game vs. Maryland's pass defense

Success on the ground for the Badgers could open things up for some effective play-action passing. At some point, if Wisconsin is running for first down after first down, Maryland will adjust by bringing its safeties up in run support. Wisconsin's Alex Hornibrook could use play fakes to find receivers running free behind the safeties for big gains, even touchdowns, against Maryland.

3. Maryland's running game vs. Wisconsin's run defense

The best way for Maryland to stay in the game is to maintain possession of the football. Maryland has a capable running back in Ty Johnson, who has gained 488 yards on the ground while averaging an impressive 7.2 yards per carry. The challenge will be running against a Wisconsin defense that is currently leading the Big Ten in rush defense, giving up only 79 yards per game on the ground.

Final Analysis

Even though Wisconsin has not always been impressive in its six victories this season, head coach Paul Chryst has used the traditional offensive approach first used to great success by former Badgers head coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez — a massive offensive line that can maul the opposition, with a talented running back who can tire out the opposing defense. Maryland head coach DJ Durkin is improving the Terrapins, but Wisconsin is superior in the trenches, and that is where this game will likely be dominated by the Badgers.

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Prediction: Wisconsin 42, Maryland 14

— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He also is writing and podcasting for Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.