Notre Dame running backs Jonas Gray and Cierre Wood combined for 235 yards and three touchdowns, Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees threw for another two TDs, and the Fighting Irish coasted to an easy 45-21 win over the Maryland Terrapins at FedEx Field.
It was the sixth straight loss for the Terps, and they drop to 2-8 in Randy Edsall's inaugural season. They haven't won a game since the first day of October. Today's performance won't do much to stay the increasing tide of discontent rippling through the fan base.
Maryland was out-gained 508 to 364 on the day, and managed only 48 yards on 17 plays in the lopsided first quarter. The offense was lackluster, especially early, but the defense was little better: they were consistently gashed on third downs and in the running game - the standout play that combines both being, of course, a 19-yard run on a draw by Gray to convert a third-and-17 in the third quarter. Of course, that drive ended in a touchdown.
In fact, it's the fourth-straight lopsided loss the program has had (two of those came against BC and Virginia). I guess there may be, as Edsall says, some progress ... somewhere ... but it certainly hasn't manifested itself on the field anytime recently. Past a few individual bright spots, it's difficult to find any measure of positivity from this game, either.
I hate to be the guy that says this, but hey, at least basketball starts literally tomorrow. Now, onto the recap:
In what has quickly become a Saturday tradition for Maryland, the Terrapins started slow: they had a three-and-out to begin the game, and the Fighting Irish promptly marched 67 yards down the field on their first drive and punched in a 1-yard Gray touchdown run. That just about set the tone for the evening.
Maryland punted on their next four possessions, and Notre Dame would have a 17-0 lead before the Terps were able to mount a drive. In fairness, they did finally mount said drive, going 61 yards and topping it off with a 13-yard Quintin McCree touchdown reception on a WR middle screen to cut the lead to 10.
And as you might expect, it was just one big downhill slide from there. Notre Dame picked up two short-yardage TDs on their next two drives from Gray and Wood, respectively. Then Danny O'Brien, on Maryland's first drive of the second half, overthrew Kevin Dorsey on a wide receiver screen and was picked off by Lo Brown, who returned it 57 yards for a pick-six touchdown, giving the Irish a 38-7 lead. O'Brien had to leave the game a few plays later with an elbow injury midway through the third quarter.
C.J. Brown came in the game and, to his credit, led a touchdown drive late in third quarter and another late in the fourth. I'm pretty sure, though, that that's the very definition of too-little and too-late.
The sad stat of the day has to be the Irish putting up over 200 yards of rushing on Maryland. If you're wondering, they're the seventh team to do so all year and - if you can handle this - the sixth straight. That has to be some kind of record. To the defense's credit, they did get three sacks on Notre Dame's OL - a group that had allowed only five sacks all season before this game. So at least there's that, as little as it may be.
Notre Dame was the more talented than Maryland, pretty easily. An upset would've been a pretty significant surprise. But I have a difficult time believing that the Terrapins were that much worse. This game wasn't as close as the score, and the score looks pretty damning as it is. Again, I suppose Edsall could be right in saying that there's some progress somewhere out there, but to my untrained eye, it's pretty tough to see.
As always, we'll have more soon in the Stock Report and Helmet Stickers, touching on the reemergence of D.J. Adams (no, really), the strong starting debut from A.J. Hendy, and the struggles of ... well, just about everyone else. See you right back here tomorrow.