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Randy Edsall's demise at Maryland started with Rutgers

The Terps led Rutgers by 25 points last November. Then they lost it all, and it's been downhill ever since.

Randy Edsall last November, as his Terps blew a 25-point lead to Rutgers.
Randy Edsall last November, as his Terps blew a 25-point lead to Rutgers.
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

In his time at Maryland, which ended Sunday, Randy Edsall was 10-23 in conference games. He never won a game against a ranked team. Most Maryland fans would agree that it was the right decision to let Edsall go, as athletic director Kevin Anderson did.

But there was a time, late last season, where Edsall still had some pretty good will going with Terp fans. He had won games over Penn State and Michigan on the road, the team was 7-4 and 4-3 in the Big Ten. Not everyone liked Edsall, but most people were pleased with where the team was at and were fine with giving him another year, also considering the potential for a promising recruiting class.

So what happened? How did we get from that position to one where everyone wanted him out and Kevin Anderson made the decision to pull the plug just five games into the 2015 season? It can all be traced back to last year's game against Rutgers.

Maryland's Rutgers disaster

C.J. Brown had just tossed a 9-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Deon Long. It capped a seven-play, 60-yard drive and gave Maryland a 35-10 lead over Rutgers at home with 2:52 left in the first half. The Terps looked well on their way to a easy win over the Scarlet Knights and an 8-4 season with a winning record in Big Ten play. After all, Rutgers had scored more than 35 points just three times that season, and had been outscored 158-86 in their last four games. That's a differential of minus-72. In their last three losses - albeit to good competition in Ohio State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin - they had given up 135 points. There was nothing to suggest that they were going to find the offense to hit 35 points, or stop the Terps from continuing to score.

But then Rutgers got a touchdown before the end of the half. Then they scored two more unanswered TD's to start the second half. They reeled off 21 straight points and despite a Brad Craddock FG late in the 3rd Quarter, Rutgers was down 38-31 going into the 4th. And then they outscored Maryland 10-0 in the 4th, putting together two scoring drives of a combined 143 yards. Former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen had helped Gary Nova tear apart the Terps' defense in the second half, and a sure win turned into an embarrassing loss. Instead of an 8-4, 5-3 conference season that everyone would be pleased with, it was 7-5, 4-4 with a blown 25-point lead being the lasting image as the team headed into the offseason. And it was a major turning point for the worst.

Since that game, here are the results of Maryland's games

  • Lost to Stanford 45-21
  • Beat Richmond 50-21
  • Lost to Bowling Green 48-27
  • Beat South Florida 35-17
  • Lost to West Virginia 45-6
  • Lost to Michigan 28-0
  • Lost to Ohio State 49-28

Maryland has averaged 24 points in its last seven games. When you take out the win over FCS Richmond, it's 16.5 points per game. They've allowed an average of 36 points per game during this stretch. Here is Maryland's total yardage on offense in those games: 222, 479, 341, 411, 326, 105, 386.

That's an average of 324 yards per game, and against strictly power-five opposition (so Stanford, West Virginia, Michigan, Ohio State) it's an average of 259 yards per game. Their yards allowed? 414, 276, 692, 300, 601, 378, 499. That's an average of a cool 451 yards per game. They gave up 600 yards twice!

Maryland nearly gave up 700 yards of offense to Bowling Green. Edsall's ship hadn't just veered off course and tilted over. It burned, crashed, and disintegrated into a thousand pieces.

And yet, despite the disaster that this team has become this year, there was a point not too long ago where the team and program was headed in the right direction. Here's the results of Maryland's seven games prior to the Rutgers game

  • Beat Indiana 37-15
  • Lost to Ohio State 52-24
  • Beat Iowa 38-31
  • Lost to Wisconsin 52-7
  • Beat Penn State 20-19
  • Lost to Michigan State 37-15
  • Beat Michigan 23-16

The two losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin are obviously ugly, but for the most part, those results are fine. Some good wins in there, and the Penn State and Michigan wins were good symbolically for the program even if those were not vintage Nittany Lion or Wolverine teams. Maryland averaged 23 points per game in these seven games, a touchdown's worth of points more than they have scored in games against power-five school opposition since Stanford in the Foster Farms Bowl. They allowed 32 points per game, which isn't that much less than what they allowed above, but it drops to 23 when you take out the Ohio State and Wisconsin games. You obviously can't discount those games, they happened, but in every other game Maryland was anywhere from very good to solid/okay based on the level of the opposition.

From a yardage standpoint, Maryland averaged 306 yards on offense over these seven games, and allowed 417 yards per game defensively. That differential of minus-111, which by no means is great. But it is better than minus-192 differential in yardage, that, again, is heavily impacted by two games. And the big one is, Maryland was 4-3 in this run of games, against conference opposition. Maryland is 2-5 in its last seven games and one of those losses was by three touchdowns to a MAC school.

Essentially, Maryland under Randy Edsall through the first 10 games of the 2014 season and overall under him as a program was a decent four door sedan. It had it's issues. Was not great by any means. Not a $200,000 sports car. But it was dependable, solid, and going along fine enough that maybe in a year or two could be upgraded to a bit more luxurious, and more enjoyable. Instead, Maryland under Randy Edsall this season is a bus that has it's doors slammed in, its windows absolutely shattered, and has been fully engulfed in flames.

Going into that Rutgers game, Maryland had a chance to potentially get the school's second nine win season in eight seasons. Win over RU, and a bowl game win. Instead, they lost to Rutgers in embarrassing fashion. Then they were blown out by Stanford. And the road to the end of the Randy Edsall era had begun, even if we didn't quite see it coming.