Maryland's used to winning ugly. It's happened all year. It may make it tough to watch the games, yes, and it makes it difficult to believe this team has a legitimate chance at winning the ACC, yes, but the bottom line is that losing pretty is worse than winning ugly. Despite running up the score in the final quarter, this was a quintessential ugly victory for the Terrapins at Virginia, using three short D.J. Adams touchdowns, three more from Danny O'Brien, 157 receiving yards from a rejuvenated Torrey Smith, and 16 Cavalier penalties to grab the win in Charlottesville, 42-23.
With the win, Maryland rises to 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the ACC. The Terps also retain control of their own destiny in the ACC Atlantic. Considering they looked pretty average for three quarters today and their final two games are against Florida State and N.C. State, it's up to you to decide whether or not you think they actually can win those two games, but the title's there if they do.
Adams has been used inconsistently all year, but proabably just claimed quite a few more carries with his performance today. After goal line playcalling potentially cost Maryland a win against Miami, they went more conservative this time around, electing to bring in a bowling ball of a back in Adams at RB and Zach Kerr, a DT by trade, at FB. The end result was three relatively easy TDs of 1, 2, and 6 yards.
Smith, meanwhile, had receptions of 62, 35, and 27 yards throughout the game for his best game since FIU in late September.
Virginia helped out plenty with their own mistakes. They had 16 penalties for 145 yards, just one short of their all-time record for total penalties. Marc Verica, after a solid game, threw two interceptions on two of UVA's final three drives to Eric Franklin and Adrian Moten, with the other being a turnover on downs.
It wasn't all roses and sunshine. Don't let the score fool you; Maryland scored two late TDs to run up the score and make the win look easier than it was. For three quarters, this game was essentially deadlocked and entirely ugly on both sides. Verica threw for 265 yards, the Cavaliers dominated special teams, and Maryland had nothing offensively outside of "throw the ball to Torrey Smith," which had variable effectiveness. For three quarters, it didn't look like Maryland deserved to win this game, let alone have a chance in their next two.
But the fourth quarter was an entirely different beast. The defense forced a punt, two interceptions, and a turnover on downs. The offense had three scoring drives of over 40 yards and Danny O'Brien looked inspired. While that was mostly little more than running up the score, it was also the best Maryland's looked since beating down on Wake Forest two weeks ago. At least partially, Maryland can thank their running game for that, which wore down the Cavs' defense and opened up the pass.
It was more ugly than it wasn't, but for one quarter, Maryland looked like a legitimate title contender.
Report card tomorrow. For now, bask.