Everybody loves a good comeback story, especially in college football where those at Maryland still recall rallying from 31 points down to beat defending national champion Miami 42-40 in 1984.
We’ve seen more than our share this year on the national and local level, where double-digit leads and deficits can be erased in the blink of an eye with scoring plays of 82 and 90 yards like the ones Virginia Tech allowed at Louisville.
Every game features momentum swings; it’s a natural part of the sport, which features adjustments and counter punches over a 60-minute stretch.
But with more offensive oomph in the game this year, the pendulum swings are more pronounced. No. 1 Clemson trailed Boston College 28-10 at one point before rallying past the Eagles 34-28. No. 6 Oklahoma State wasn’t as lucky, seeing a 31-20 lead over Texas transform into a 41-34 overtime loss (before you start saying “TEXAS IS BACK!” please know the Cowboys were the Big 12’s last legitimate playoff hopeful).
The massive momentum swings make for a much more entertaining Saturday afternoon and evening, even though it makes life more difficult for those writing against deadline.
Maryland (1-1) kicked off the weekend with a 45-44 overtime win over Minnesota that felt like three distinct games; the first saw the Terps jump out to a 21-7 lead in the first quarter, while the second saw the Golden Gophers reel off 31-straight points. The Terrapins finished with a 24-6 stretch that included a missed extra point in OT for the visitors. After playing on Friday night, they’ll need the extra day off to recover.
- Terrapin Triumphs: Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 394 yards and 3 touchdowns while running for two more scores; he was the first Terp to throw for over 300 yards since Caleb Rowe in 2013 against — wait for it — Virginia. Jake Funk rushed for 221 yards, running for one TD while catching a touchdown pass to complete his recovery from a torn ACL and answer those who thought he was a “good special teams player but not a feature back” (that would be me). Chance Campbell spearheaded the defense with 13 tackles and a sack; the D earned an A in the second half by getting off the field on 5 of 6 third downs.
- Terrapin Troubles: Last week, Head Coach Mike Locksley said they would clean up the team’s run defense, and that part of the game needs another deep cleanse after allowing 262 yards on the ground. The Terps took 10 penalties for 97 yards, with a more than a few of them coming at the most inopportune times. Maryland posted 2 turnovers; the first set up a Minnesota touchdown and the second occurred on 1st and goal from the Golden Gophers’ one.
Next: Saturday at 0-2 Penn State; 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
Virginia Tech (4-2) bounced back from its lowest scoring output of the season by reaching the end zone on 3 of its first 4 possessions, outscoring Louisville 42-35 in a game where the VT offense scored every time they had the ball in the second half with the exception of a game-ending kneel-down. They’re still a few weeks removed from the ACC gauntlet that includes Miami and Clemson, so the defense can be fixed up. Right?
- Hokie Highlights: Hendon Hooker completed 10-10 passes for 183 yards while rushing for three touchdowns, and just as important, the junior didn’t turn the ball over. Khalil Herbert rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown (his 803 on the season are second-most in the ACC). Justus Reed tallied two sacks (his 4.5 leads the team this fall) and Brian Johnson connected on field goals of 30 and 41 yards.
- Hokie Humblings: The defense allowed 548 yards and surrendered touchdowns on 5 of the Cardinals’ final 7 possessions of the game (other 2 ended with interceptions, with one coming at the VT two-yard line). The offense, despite all of its success, converted just 1-7 third downs. Oscar Bradburn averaged under 40 yards per punt with one touchback.
Next: Saturday at noon against 6-0 Liberty.
Navy (3-4, 3-2 AAC) reached the end zone the first 2 times they had the ball and scored on their last 3 possessions in their game at No. 22 SMU, but generated just 95 yards on 35 carries in between the strong start and furious finish in a 51-37 loss to the Mustangs. Two weeks ago there were possibilities of playing in the AAC Championship Game; today the question is can this team finish over .500.
- Midshipmen Medals: Backup quarterback Tyger Goslun threw 2 fourth-quarter touchdown passes to make the score respectable, while Chance Warren ran for 2 scores. Mitchell West tallied 10 tackles and Bijan Nichols connected on a 46-yard field goal (the only scoring during the team’s midgame drought).
- Midshipmen Miscues: Another rough night for a defense that allowed 6.9 yards per carry and 10.7 yards per pass (as in pass attempt, not pass completion) while Mustangs went 7-11 on third down.
Next: Saturday at noon against 3-1 Tulsa.
Virginia (2-4) wrapped up the weekend much like Maryland started it; the Cavaliers 44-41 win over No. 15 North Carolina saw UVA fall behind 20-13 in the first half before going on a 28-0 run, only to hold off a 21-3 UNC finishing stretch. There are those who tell you that Virginia’s “true rival” is the Tar Heels, and most of them either live in Charlottesville or have a degree from the school. But anytime you snap an in-season losing streak at four games by beating a longtime conference foe for the fourth straight year, it’s a sunny day on the grounds.
- Cavalier Congrats: Talk about offensive balance — the Cavs passed for 208 yards and ran for 210. Brennan Armstrong only threw 22 passes, but 3 of them were touchdown strikes. He also had a 23-yard scoring run that put UVa on the board. Billy Kemp IV’s apparent mandate on being the leading receiver saw 4 more catches to pace the team. Charles Snowden notched 10 tackles, 4 of which were sacks. One of those sacks generated a fumble that set up a UVa touchdown; a special teams fumble recovery on a punt return set up another TD.
- Cavalier Concerns: Despite putting a season-high 44 points on the board, the offense converted just 3-12 third downs. The defense didn’t fare much better, getting off the field on 4 of 10 opportunities while allowing 536 yards (443 through the air). A missed extra point could have proven costly, but thankfully it did not.
Next: Saturday against 2-5 Louisville at 8 p.m.