CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – DECEMBER 30: Quarterback Graham Mertz #5 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks to take the snap against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the first half of the Duke’s Mayo Bowl at Bank of America Stadium on December 30, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Maryland Terrapins vs. Wisconsin Badgers: 3 key matchups to watch in Week 10

Maryland Terrapins vs. Wisconsin Badgers: 3 key matchups to watch in Week 10

Despite being 2-3 in Big Ten play this year, the Wisconsin football team enter Saturday’s matchup with Maryland (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) as -5.5-point favorites. The Badgers have been favored in every game this year, with the exception coming at Ohio State in week 4.

Wisconsin is also looking to win back-to-back games for the first time in the 2022 season. The Badgers rattled off seven straight wins in the 2021 season and hope to catch lightning in a bottle once again.

For the Badgers to keep the positive momentum rolling against Maryland, I’m highlighting what I think are three key matchups to watch.

Terps QB Taulia Tagovailoa vs. Wisconsin Badgers Secondary

Tagovailoa missed all of Maryland’s win against Northwestern last week, nursing a knee injury he suffered against Indiana in Week 7. The expectation is for Taulia to start against Wisconsin, and if he does – Wisconsin’s secondary needs to be prepared.

He’s 3rd in the country in completion percentage at 72.5% and has 20+ completions in six of the seven games he has appeared in this year. On the other hand, the Badger’s defense has been opportunistic all year – forcing 13 turnovers – 12 of them being interceptions, and scoring three defensive touchdowns. Wisconsin will need to force a turnover and do all they can to make Tagovailoa uncomfortable this weekend.

Badgers QB Graham Mertz vs. Turnovers

 It’s no secret that Mertz has had struggles with turnovers throughout his career. If I were a gambling man, which, let’s be honest – we’re all degenerates in some capacity – I would gamble that Maryland will take away Braelon Allen by stacking the box early on. In the last three weeks, Graham Mertz has a 9:1 touchdown-to-INT ratio – which is the best three-game stretch of his career. The Badgers will need to keep Mertz protected and give him some confidence-building rhythm throws early in the game to loosen up the Terp’s defense.

Badgers OLB Group vs. QB contain

Maryland QBs have already accounted for 69 rush attempts this year, with Billy Edwards Jr accounting for 16 rush attempts in his start vs. Northwestern. Nick Herbig sat out the entire game against Purdue with a knee injury that flared up throughout the week. After a Bye week, Herbig is working back into game shape and hoping to play this weekend. If there were ever a silver lining to Herbig missing game action – it’s Darryl Peterson and Kaden Johnson seeing more consistent reps in a live game. The Badgers will need their entire OLB group to step up this week to contain the Terp’s signal callers.

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