Madison, Wis. — Six-foot-3 nose guard Warren Herring stood tall at the line of scrimmage. Linebacker Marcus Trotter could not stop smiling after the game.
Whole again with its two senior starters back from injuries, Wisconsin's defense put together a dominating performance on homecoming weekend at Camp Randall Stadium.
Melvin Gordon rushed for 122 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries, and the Badgers' restocked defense stifled mistake-prone Maryland for a 52-7 win on Saturday.
"We haven't been completely healthy the whole year, but I feel like everybody is coming back," said outside linebacker Joe Schobert, who had five tackles, a sack and forced fumble.
"We showed today what we could do today on defense at Wisconsin. We were being explosive and playing assignment-sound football."
With their running game rolling, the Badgers (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) overpowered Maryland (5-3, 2-2) in every facet of the game.
Gordon had his three scores in the first half, when Wisconsin raced out to a 24-0 halftime lead on a picture-perfect fall afternoon. Joel Stave threw for two scores in the second half.
Wisconsin also checked off another item on its to-do list after limiting Maryland's special teams returners Stefon Diggs and William Likely.
The Big Ten rookie Terrapins accomplished little in their first visit to Camp Randall Stadium.
"We got outcoached. We got outplayed today, and didn't do a real good job — and that's on me as a head coach," Maryland's Randy Edsall said.
His team only avoided a shutout on Diggs' 21-yard touchdown catch from dual-threat quarterback C.J. Brown with 57 seconds left.
Otherwise, Wisconsin brought Maryland's five-game road winning streak to an emphatic end. The Terps were held to 175 yards of total offense, 227 below their season average. Most of the yardage came late in the blowout loss.
"That defense was swarming to the ball, they tackled well," Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said.
Fresh off a bye, the Badgers even dusted off a couple trick plays, including punter Drew Meyer's floating pass to open tight end Troy Fumagalli over the middle for a 17-yard gain on fourth-and-9 from the Maryland 36. It set up a 36-yard field goal by Rafael Gaglianone to give Wisconsin a 10-0 lead at 3:46 of the first quarter.
"Everyone — defense, offense, special teams — did their roles," a proud Trotter said.
Maryland fumbled the ball away on the next drive after a handoff bounced off running back Brandon Ross' chest. Linebacker Vince Biegel pounced on the ball, and Gordon barreled in from a yard out six plays later for a 17-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter.
The next drive exemplified the Terps' trying day.
Brown hit Deon Long on first down for a 22-yard gain to the Wisconsin 49 before two straight penalties pushed the Terps back 10 yards.
Trotter tackled Ross from behind for a 3-yard loss. Fellow inside linebacker Derek Landisch easily snuffed out a short pass to Ross for a 4-yard loss. Under yet more pressure on third-and-27, Brown tossed a long incompletion.
The sure-tackling Badgers consistently contained Maryland's skill players and diagnosed read-option plays. Maryland had just 3 yards in total rushing at the half and finished with 46 on the day.
Trotter said the defense benefited from having extra time to prepare for the run. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda also limited the play calls.
"It was really simple this week, just so we could fly around and make plays," Trotter said. He finished with six tackles and a sack.
Keep this up and the Badgers will be a force down the stretch in the Big Ten West Division with Gordon spearheading the offense.
A sputtering passing game also found success with its two-quarterback system. Stave finished 9 of 15 for 155 yards in his second straight start.
Tanner McEvoy provided a change of pace with his ability to scramble. He led Wisconsin on two touchdown drives, including an entertaining 60-yard run for a touchdown with 13:42 left in the fourth quarter for a 45-0 lead.
For Maryland, Brown finished 13 of 29 for 129 yards passing, with 14 yards rushing on 13 carries. Ross had 6 yards on seven carries, and Maryland was just 3 of 15 on third-down plays.
"From the offensive side of the ball and the penalties that we had, you can't start first and second down being backed up," Brown said. "We kept shooting ourselves in the foot, especially in the beginning."