College Football Corner: While Maryland flounders, two future Big Ten teams shine

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

On a weekend where Maryland had issues against a Big Ten West school, two of the Terps’ future foes went toe-to-toe in a midseason matchup of unbeatens that saw then-No. 7 Washington outscore No. 8 Oregon 36-33 behind the arm of Heisman Trophy favorite (and former Indiana quarterback) Michael Penix Jr.

With the Huskies and Ducks joining USC and UCLA (all four teams are ranked in this week’s Top 25) in the next wave of Big Ten expansion, the ante will be upped in 2024 as the Terps trade the Big Ten East gauntlet for a different group tough teams.

Saturday’s Games:

James Madison (6-0, 3-0 Sun Belt) exacted revenge on the team that knocked them out of the unbeaten ranks last year and, unlike 2022’s 45-38 shootout, this was a day the Dukes dominated, handing Georgia Southern a 41-13 drubbing. They may be ineligible for postseason play this year (per NCAA rules regarding their transfer from FCS to FBS), but JMU is doing its best to have an effect on the teams that reach the postseason.

Duke Dos: Jordan McCloud threw for 259 yards and three touchdowns, with Elijah Sarratt (five catches for 105 yards and a TD) emerging as the top target. The ground game averaged 5.4 yards per carry. Chauncey Logan tallied 11 tackles and an interception (one of three by the defense).

Duke Don’ts: The defense had its hiccups, allowing 304 yards passing while the Eagles converted 12 of 21 on third down.

Next: Thursday at 7 p.m. at 4-2 Marshall.

Navy (3-3, 2-2 American) won conference games on consecutive weekends for the first time since 2020, posting its second shutout of the season with a 14-0 blanking of Charlotte. Two straight wins puts the Midshipmen closer to the magic number of six and bowl eligibility. According to, they have a legitimate shot at winning four of their final six games this fall.

Midshipmen Medals: Freshman quarterback Braxton Woodson rushed for 58 yards while throwing for a 69-yard touchdown. Alex Tecza used his breakaway ability to score on a 62-yard run. Will Harbour led the defense with 11 tackles and recorded half a sack (the team had four) while Dashaun Peele made eight stops and notched an interception. Riley Riethman averaged 46.2 yards on 11 punts.

Midshipmen Miscues: That’s right, Riethman punted 11 times. Not sustainable if you want to win games down the stretch. Thank goodness for the big play, because the offense converted just 3-15 third downs.

Next: Saturday at noon against 6-0 Air Force.

Maryland (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) had a chance just like last year to enter their bye week having clinched bowl eligibility. After a slow start, they looked like they were putting Illinois away. But up 14-7, a Kaden Prather fumble at the Illini 27-yard line took points off the board, and the visitors would be aided by a pair of personal foul penalties on their way to a game-tying touchdown right before halftime. The Terps would rally from 10 down in the fourth quarter, but the day ended with a 27-24 defeat on a last-second field goal, entering the bye with a bitter taste.

Terrapin Triumphs: Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns, spreading the wealth with 11 receivers getting the ball. Roman Hemby enjoyed a strong second half to finish with 70 yards rushing. Fa’Najae Gotay tallied 1.5 sacks in his six tackles.

Terrapin Troubles: The late first half sequence was disastrous, and more points were left on the table in the second half when Jack Howes missed a 45-yard field goal. The offense converted just 5-15 third downs while the defense allowed 131 yards on the ground.

Next: Oct. 28 at 3-3 Northwestern.

Virginia Tech (3-4, 2-1 ACC) bounced back from a tough loss at No. 5 Florida State by dominating a defensive duel with Wake Forest. Faced with a 17-10 lead in the third quarter, the offense produced points on three straight drives, defeating the Demon Deacons 30-13. Now, they get a chance to breathe, as they follow up a weekend off by hosting on Thursday night (a staple of the good old days).

Hokie Highlights: Kyron Drones passed for 321 yards and two touchdowns while leading the team with 59 yards rushing. Jaylin Lane caught three passes for 102 yards and a pair of scores. Keonta Jenkins tallied 12 tackles and a sack while Antwaun Powell-Ryland posted four of the team’s seven sacks.

Hokie Humblings: The running back rotation was held to 65 yards on 19 carries and the offense moved the chains on only 3-12 third downs. Special teams allowed a 96-yard kickoff return for Wake’s only touchdown. Eight penalties for 79 yards won’t make head coach Brent Pry happy.

Next: Thursday Oct. 26 against 4-3 Syracuse.

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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