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Maryland football showed positive signs vs. Wisconsin, but was still overmatched

Taking stock of the Terps following their third straight loss.

Maryland v Wisconsin Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Maryland football lost to a top-five opponent on Saturday. That’s fine. It’s okay. It’s fine. Wisconsin was undefeated for a reason and this was largely the expected outcome.

Despite looking largely overmatched most of the afternoon, Maryland managed to keep the game somewhat interesting and even went on a 10-0 run in the third before falling by 25. Here’s what caught our eye during the afternoon.

Stock up

WR Taivon Jacobs. Jacobs now has a touchdown in two straight games and is emerging as a legitimate second option in the Terps’ passing game. He finished as Maryland’s leading receiver with five receptions on nine targets for 45 yards and a score. On a quiet day for standout junior D.J. Moore, Jacobs also matched his season-high for receptions in a game, matching his total against Minnesota.

Maryland’s running game. The Terps were finally able to get their running game going, after it had been largely absent as a facet of the offense the last couple of weeks. The backfield duo of Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison combined for 147 yards on 28 attempts; Maryland was averaging just 59 yards in its three prior losses. Maryland didn’t make it out of Madison with a win, but getting the ground game back on track is at least some consolation.

Stock holding

QB Max Bortenschlager. Wisconsin was in the backfield often, making Bortenschlager’s day in the pocket a living hell. However, after the pick-six on his first pass, he was largely able to execute the Terps’ gameplan in the loss. Bortenschlager didn’t have his best game, going 13-for-30 through the air for 125 yards, a score and the interception. It was a rough day for Maryland’s passing game, but that was to be expected against the Badgers’ defense.

Maryland’s defense. Maryland’s defense held stout in the first quarter, limiting Wisconsin to just seven plays and 33 yards and forcing two turnovers. Josh Woods secured his second interception of the season, and Brett Kulka forced a fumble against Wisconsin’s star freshman back Jonathan Taylor near the Badgers’ goal line late in the first quarter. Maryland’s offense wasn’t able to capitalize on either, getting just a field goal off the turnovers.

Though the Terps allowed fewer yards than in their two previous losses, Wisconsin was able to control the game with a balanced attack of Taylor and quarterback Alex Hornibrook. Taylor survived the early fumble to rip the Terps for 126 yards—a large chunk of the Badgers’ 215 rushing yards—and a score. After the interception, Hornibrook continued to exploit the secondary’s issues over the middle, finding tight end Troy Fumagalli for seven completions and a game-high 83 receiving yards.

Stock down

WR D.J. Moore. Moore came into the game leading the Big Ten in receiving yards, touchdowns, and both yards and receptions per game. Wisconsin’s secondary was largely able to stifle his production, using a variety of coverages to hold him to just three catches on 10 targets. However, after Moore had a career game against Northwestern, a slight letdown was expected.