College Football Corner: Terps one of several unbeaten teams to tumble

Dave Preston is an AP Top 25 voter. Read his latest rankings here.

The first Saturday of October brought a few autumn winds that changed the directions of more than a few college football seasons. Maryland learned about “Moving Month” the hard way as their attempt to move into the Big Ten Contenders category was denied by a blueblood wearing scarlet and gray. And, the Terps weren’t the only team to fall from the ranks of the unblemished.

In Dallas at the Cotton Bowl, No. 12 Oklahoma used a last-minute touchdown to say that Texas might be back, but they’re no longer unbeaten. Six other FBS schools would go down in defeat for the first time this fall, from SEC pretenders Kentucky and Missouri to Pac-12 loyalist Washington State, plus potential playoff gate-crashers Fresno State and Marshall. I thought that No. 5 USC would join that bunch after falling behind 17-0 in the first half at home, and while the Trojans were pushed to within an inch of their lives late Saturday night before they escaped with a triple-overtime win over Arizona. I’m really, really going to miss the “Pac-12 After Dark game.”

Instead, the last unbeaten to fall was No. 17 Miami who elected to run a play with under a minute remaining and Georgia Tech out of timeouts. Naturally, they fumbled and the Yellow Jackets recovered with 33 seconds left, setting up a three-play, 74-yard drive that resulted in a 23-20 Georgia Tech victory and once again downgraded the Hurricanes to a squall. It’s not just the October breeze that can be biting.

Maryland (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten) took a 10-0 first quarter lead at No. 4 Ohio State and even after the Buckeyes rallied to knot things up went ahead 17-10 after a Taulia Tagovailoa touchdown run on their first possession of the second half. But then the Big Ten’s beast was awoken and the reminder remains that when you come after the king, you better not miss. Even though they’ve gone two years without winning the conference, the Buckeyes remain the gold standard and they showed why by scoring the game’s final 27 points, sending the Terps home with a 37-17 loss.

Terrapin Triumphs: Taulia Tagovailoa threw for and ran for touchdowns. Beau Brade tallied eight tackles as the defense held the Buckeyes to 3-12 on third down. Special teams sniffed out a fake punt in the first quarter that led to an early lead.

Terrapin Troubles: Tagovailoa threw a pair of interceptions that led to 10 crucial points for Ohio State, with the first being returned for their first touchdown of the day and the second setting up a field goal for their first lead of the afternoon. After the second INT, the offense gained just six yards on 14 plays from scrimmage the rest of the game. The defense when handed a 17-10 third quarter lead allowed points on five straight possessions.

Next: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against 2-4 Illinois. Homecoming! I’m bringing Tostitos Hint of Lime Chips.

Virginia (1-5) left the ranks of the winless (Sam Houston State and Nevada still reside in that neighborhood) with a 27-13 victory over William & Mary. The Cavaliers actually made the Scott Stadium faithful perspire quite a bit in the afternoon sun, digging a 13-3 second quarter deficit before storming back. And the team haunted by fourth quarter fades (outscored 53-14 over the first five games) turned things around, outscoring the Tribe 7-0 in the final frame to send everyone home happy.

Cavalier Congrats: Perris Jones rushed for 134 yards while the team gained 221 yards on the ground. Malik Washington scorches another secondary to the tune of seven catches for 112 yards and a touchdown (he’s on pace for 105 receptions and 1,603 yards). Kamren Robinson notched 12 tackles as the defense held the Tribe to under four yards per pass attempt.

Cavalier Concerns: The defense took a while to get assert itself, allowing points on William & Mary’s first three possessions. Granted one was set up by a Virginia fumble. On that front, Tony Muskett lost a fumble and tossed an interception. Daniel Sparks (who usually earns top marks) had a five-yard punt that almost spelled disaster late in the first half.

Next: Oct. 21 at No. 14 North Carolina (5-0).

Virginia Tech (2-4, 1-2 ACC) learned how good No. 5 Florida State could be, falling behind 22-0 before rallying to make things respectable at the half. A Bhayshul Tuten kickoff return for a touchdown pulled the Hokies within five before FSU reasserted its dominance, answering with points on three of its next four possessions as Tech comes up short 39-17.

Hokie Highlights: Bhayshul Tuten scored both of the team’s touchdowns, running for a five-yard TD just before halftime and then returning the second half kickoff 99 yards to the house.

Hokie Humblings: Kyron Drones passed for just 104 yards (on 14 completions) with a long of 21 yards. The offense converted 2-13 third downs. The defense allowed the Seminoles to reach the end zone the first three times they had the ball, while allowing second half touchdown runs of 62 and 85 yards.

Next: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against 3-2 Wake Forest.

Navy (2-3, 1-2 AAC) began their game against North Texas with a defensive stand, holding the Mean Green out of the end zone on a fourth-and-goal from the two. They’d also take advantage with a pair of fumble recoveries and post their first conference win the year, holding off a second-half rally to prevail 27-24.

Midshipmen Medals: Alex Tezca rushes for 137 yards and two touchdowns (21 and 39-yard scampers for scores) while the team posted 331 yards on the ground. Luke Pirris notched nine tackles, a sack, and a fumble recovery as the defense held the Mean Green to 2-11 on third down. Riley Riethman averaged 46.7 yards on six punts.

Midshipmen Miscues: A missed extra point didn’t cost them this time. The defense allowed 205 yards rushing on 5.7 per carry, including runs of 47 and 75 yards. The passing game had issues, completing just 4 of 10 attempts. And seven penalties for 47 yards won’t sit well.

Next: Saturday at 2 p.m. at 1-4 Charlotte.

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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