College Football Corner: Navy and Maryland return to bright sides and the unexpected

I’m not a rom-com guy, and I’m not a Gwyneth Paltrow guy nowadays (don’t even get me started about Coldplay) but I’ll always be a sucker for her film “Sliding Doors.”

It involves tiny occurrences in our lives and how things snowball from there. The film also carries the witty exchange between Paltrow and co-star John Hannah as he tries to cheer her up:

“You know what the Monty Python boys say…”

“Always look on the bright side of life?”

“No — nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.”

That’s 2020 for many of us who have looked for the bright side only to see things turned upside-down more than before.

While Maryland and Navy finally got back on the field this past weekend and two- and three-week hiatuses, Saturday’s college football slate offered up a late scratch when Virginia’s game with Florida State was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Seminoles program that wiped out their game with Clemson the week before.

The Cavaliers had already traveled to Tallahassee, so at least they got some quality bus and airplane time out of the deal.

Big Ten East Division leading Ohio State might not lose this fall on the field, but the Buckeyes had to cancel their game at Illinois due to positive COVID-19 tests within the program that include Head Coach Ryan Day.

They’ve already had one game wiped out (at Maryland due to the Terps COVID outbreak) and the Big Ten announced earlier this year that a team needs to play six games in order to be eligible for the Championship Game.

That rule, if upheld, is already knocking No. 16 Wisconsin out of consideration in the West.

All the conference office eyes are now on the health of the Buckeyes and their two December opponents, Michigan State and Michigan.

Nobody expects an Indiana-Northwestern Big Ten title game.

Maryland (2-2) didn’t look like it was the team that had two weeks off at first against No. 12 Indiana, driving down the field on their opening possession, but an incomplete pass to an open receiver in the endzone followed by a missed field goal set the tone for the day.

The Terps would post 232 yards of offense in the first half with only three points to show for their troubles and two interceptions in the IU red zone didn’t help.

A sack for a safety on their first play from scrimmage in the second half got the ball rolling for the Hoosiers in a 27-11 decision.

  • Terrapin Triumphs: Dontay Demus caught 6 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. Jordan Mosely led the team with 12 tackles and the defense held IU in check for most of the first half, while making a huge stop on 4th & 2 at the MD 5 to begin the second half. Colton Spangler and Anthony Pecorella combined to average 47.3 yards on six punts.
  • Terrapin Troubles: Eight penalties for 55 yards, including an offsides in the third quarter that helped IU’s touchdown drive that put them up 17-3. The offense converted just 4-14 third downs. The missed 29-yard field goal attempt by Joseph Petrino stings, but so does Taulia Tagovailoa’s overthrow into the endzone on third down. The redshirt freshman’s three interceptions remind us that he’s a first year starter with less than a half-season under his belt. He also didn’t have Terps leading rusher Jake Funk or primary receivers Rakim Jarrett & Jeshaun Jones in the lineup either.

Next: Saturday at 2-4 Michigan.

Navy (3-5, 3-3 AAC) dealt with an even longer layoff, but took an early 7-0 lead over Memphis thanks to a touchdown on their second possession of the evening.

Unfortunately, that would be their only score in a 10-7 loss.

On the bright side, they put together their best 60-minute defensive effort of the season. On the other side, their game with 1-8 South Florida won’t be rescheduled.

  • Midshipmen Medals: The defense held the Tigers to a season-low 280 yards (they had rolled up 500+ yards in five of their previous seven games) and 2.9 yards per carry despite failing to notch a sack. Diego Fagot led the team with 8 tackles while Tama Tuitele added 7 stops. Nelson Smith rushed for 142 yards and the Mids’ lone touchdown.
  • Midshipmen Miscues: An interception in the red zone and a fumble that set up the Tigers’ field goal represented a swing of ten points the other way. It’s never easy to find the right starting quarterback for the option offense, and this week three different QB’s took snaps. There’s a saying “If you have two starting quarterbacks you don’t have one;” I can only imagine what the triumvirate of Dalen Morris, Tyger Goslin and Xavier Arline will yield moving forward.

Next: Saturday against 5-1 Tulsa.

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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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