Maryland Terrapins(3-3SU,3-3ATS) vs.Wisconsin Badgers(6-0SU,3-3ATS)
College Football Week8
Date and Time:Saturday October 21 at 12pm ET
byEvergreen,Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread:MD +24/UW -24
After some stunning results last week, all top-10 college football teams need to be on notice that the path to the final four is not a guarantee to anyone. The freshly minted #5 Wisconsin Badgers were beneficiaries of the Clemson loss with UW potentially in control of their own final four destiny if they can run the table. The Maryland Terrapins head to Madison this weekend to take their turn at upsetting a big dog and look to stay on track for a bowl berth of their own. Madison is not often friendly to visitors, as Maryland found out in 52-7 fashion during the 2014 season, but Wisconsin had troubles with Purdue at Camp Randall just last week. Maryland will have to find a way to crease Wisconsins 6th ranked defense but the Terrapins do have a knack for scoring as they bring a 31.7 points per game average to the weekend.
With Wisconsin moving into the top-5, a sizeable line was expected here and the online betting sites are in agreement that the Badgers are 24 point favorites. Maryland is riding a 1-6 streak against the spread as the visitor up against an opponent over .500 but Wisconsin has just one ATS win in their last seven home games. The Badgers are the 8th best team according to the Sagarin rating system with the Terrapins a good way back at 68th. Maryland lost big to Ohio State in their only other matchup against a top-10 Sagarin school but did manage to best Texas to give them a top-30 win to go along with two top-30 losses. The Sagarin computers are calling for a 46-22 Wisconsin win to fall almost directly in line with the point spread.
Maryland has had a tough couple of weeks in conference play with back-to-back losses against OSU and Northwestern. The Ls themselves were probably expected but giving up a combined 99 points in those games shows substantial cracks in the Terrapin defense. The problem spot for this week will be trying to stop Wisconsins 14th ranked run game with the 83rd ranked run defense. Jonathan Taylor is averaging 7.8 yards per carry for the Badgers and finished just fourteen yards short of becoming the first freshman to rush for 1,000 yards in six career games. Maryland gives up 4.5 yards per carry on average so look for Wisconsin to attack the Terrapins on the ground and then open up the play-action pass. Maryland is allowing opponents to convert on 47% of third downs and that is not a good omen with Wisconsin currently at 54% conversions. Badgers QB Alex Hornibrook leads the NCAA in 3rd down QB rating through seven weeks.
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Wisconsin had quite the fight on their hands with Purdue last week but emerged with a 17-9 win. Turnovers were mostly to blame for the lack of points on the board as UW fumbled going into the endzone on one drive and Hornibrook was intercepted twice, leading to six Boilermaker points. The Wisconsin defense held up its end of the bargain by getting turnovers and stops and generally limiting Purdue for most of the day. Wisconsin enters the week as the 4th rated rushing defense and allows 13.3 points per game, good for 5th in the country. The strength of the Maryland offense is on the ground as they average 178 rushing yards per game but Wisconsin is allowing just 2.7 yards per carry. The Terrapins are outside the top-110 in passing and total yards gained so it would seem that they have a tough overall assignment against the Badgers D.
Johnathan Taylor is probably the biggest playmaker on the field this Saturday but Maryland may have the next two with running back Ty Johnson and wide receiver D.J. Moore. Johnson leads the team in rushing yards and has a nice 7.2 yards per carry average with four scores. Moore has 44 receptions for 624 yards and 7 touchdowns thus far. All three of those totals are top-12 in the NCAA. Wisconsins secondary has performed well in general by allowing just 186 passing yards per contest but they have been susceptible to the big play. Max Bortenschlager calls the signals for Maryland and he will likely need a big game to give them a chance. His 6-to-2 touchdowns to interceptions total isnt bad but his 50% completions and just 5.3 yards per attempt is not going to get it done. With no one else really standing out as a threat, Marylands offense looks to be about Johnson on the ground and Moore in the air. If Wisconsin can take those two away, it could be a long day for the visitors.
With Hornibrook playing above the level he showed last season and Taylor bursting on to the scene, Wisconsin is 27th in scoring at 36.3 points per game. Troy Fumagalli has been the steady presence at TE but WR Quintez Cephus has come on of late to give the Badgers a legitimate threat in the passing game. Cephus leads the team with five touchdown receptions, scoring in three straight and also leads in receptions and yards. He and Hornibrook will get to work against a Maryland passing defense that is allowing 264 yards per game. The Terrapin defense is giving up 36.5 points per contest so it appears that there may be little resistance to Wisconsin getting to its seasonal offensive averages.
Wisconsin has many advantages in this game from home field to quantity if difference makers but they did last week against Purdue and that did not amount to much other than a win they should always get. The Badgers are elite on defense and underrated on offense but they lack a certain amount of polish yet. They arent to the Alabama level yet where they can just roll out and cover these larger spreads just by having a C+ effort. Wisconsin is not in much danger of being upset this weekend but 24 points is a lot considering they just scored 17 and Maryland has some big play ability. I doubt this one will be as closely fought as it was against Purdue but take Maryland and the points as Wisconsin takes the foot off the gas and gets a 31-14 win.
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