The Wisconsin Badgers (4-4, 2-3 Big Ten) will host the Maryland Terrapins (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) on Saturday morning.
The Badgers are coming off a bye week, giving them plenty of time to get healthy before the season’s final stretch. Wisconsin is looking to secure a victory to keep its bowl game streak alive.
Here are some items to watch for in Saturday’s Big Ten Showdown.
Can the Wisconsin Badgers shut down Maryland’s passing attack?
Maryland comes into Saturday’s contest with a high-level passing offense. The Terrapins are averaging 283 yards per game through the air, landing in the top 30 for most passing yards per game.
Taulia Tagovailoa has spread the ball well this season. So far, the junior quarterback has logged 2,001 yards through the air to go along with 13 touchdowns.
Tagovailoa suffered an injury in his game against Northwestern but is expected to be a go this week. It remains to be seen if he’ll have any lingering symptoms from his injury that could limit him on Saturday.
Conversely, Hunter Wohler is off of the injury report for the Badgers. Wohler is a massive addition to the Badgers’ secondary, giving them some help against Tagovailoa.
Wisconsin’s secondary will be a key group to watch in Saturday’s contest as they attempt to piggyback off the impressive performance against the Purdue Boilermakers prior to the bye week.
Who will win the battle on the ground?
The Badgers and Terrapins both have dynamic running back rooms. With both teams averaging the same yards per game on the ground, the running backs will be a key group to watch.
Wisconsin’s running back room of Braelon Allen and Isaac Guerendo excelled in week eight against Purdue. The backs combined for 178 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.
Maryland’s running backs have also had standout seasons. Antwain Littleton and Roman Hemby have produced well on the ground, combining for an average of 171 yards per game.
Both teams have a dynamic duo in the backfield. The Badgers and Terrapins are both averaging 171 yards per game on the ground this year, making the rushing battle a key item to watch.
Will the tight ends be involved in the passing game with two TEs returning from injury?
The Wisconsin Badgers had a much-needed bye week this past week, and they were able to get healthy with that week off. Hayden Rucci and Cole Dakovich are no longer listed on the injury report. This is big news for Wisconsin after playing with thin depth at the tight end spot.
At this point, Rucci is a game-time decision, but his return from the injury report is a good sign. Rucci has appeared in five games for the Badgers this year. In those appearances, he hauled in four catches for 47 yards. If he is a go on Saturday, it will be interesting to see if he will be involved in the passing game.
Graham Mertz has often involved his tight ends through the air in his three years as a starter. Keep an eye on the passing game on Saturday and if the tight ends become involved.
Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin news, notes, opinion, and analysis. Additionally, you can follow Jake Maier on Twitter. @JakeJMaier.
*Chat about this article over at Badgers After Dark