PORTIONS PREVIOUSLY APPEARING AT WTOP.COM–

There’s always that October weekend when the herd of unbeaten teams gets thinned out in the most peculiar ways.  I’m going to say very few people had a Syracuse team that had lost at home to Middle Tennessee last month beating the defending national champs…especially after Clemson crushed the Orange 54-0 last season.  The Pac-12 received a double shot with losses by previously unbeaten Washington and Washington State…making the upcoming Apple Cup a little sour.  Even non Power Five Conference schools feel the mid-October sting with San Diego State slipping…and we won’t get into Navy just yet.  Enjoy the pumpkin spice lattes.

 

The biggest October surprise in the area of course is off the field.  It’s only fitting that news of Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson’s departure came on a gameday in College Park:  news of the ACC’s expansion (Syracuse and Pitt) was bubbling the day the Terps lost to West Virginia (the beginning of the end of the Danny O’Brien era) and Maryland’s move to the Big Ten was percolating the day they lost to Florida State (that was the year they were starting a scout team linebacker at quarterback).  Anderson was not at Saturday’s game with Northwestern–and Athletic Directors are almost always attending games involving their high-profile sports.  How long was he actually absent?  The school finally got ahead of the story (or alongside it) by saying Monday he would be taking a sabbatical.

If this is the end of the Anderson era, it certainly hasn’t been a quiet seven years.  Within two years of taking the job in September 2010, he fired a popular football coach in Ralph Friedgen and had to replace an even more popular men’s basketball coach when Gary Williams retired.  Instead of the calm after the storm, Maryland left the ACC that the school helped found for the Big Ten in the fall of 2012–27 months into Anderson’s tenure.  Three major moves that don’t happen often all within his first three winters on campus.  If after this sabbatical Anderson returns to the university with renewed sense of purpose, great.  If he departs for the west coast (the San Francisco State graduate is from the Bay Area originally and previously served as Assistant AD at Oregon State and Cal-Berkeley), he’ll do so leaving a major footprint on the University of Maryland.  Best of luck.

 

Alma Mater Update- about the Orange.  How did that happen???? Somehow the same SU team that barely beat a bad Pitt squad the Saturday before finds itself outplaying and beating the #2 team in the nation?  Eric Dungey keeps freshman phenom Tommy DeVito in the red shirt for 2017 by waking up the echoes of Marvin Graves and Donovan McNabb…and the defense held a Clemson offense that was averaging 35 points per game to 2-of-11 on third down.  I’m stunned that the Orange are 4-3…but recognize they face Miami and Florida State on the road over the next three weeks.  The two games I’m pointing towards are Wake Forest and Boston College.  Get those…and we have dreams of another Pinstripe Bowl banner.

 

Maryland (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) couldn’t keep pace with Northwestern in a 37-21 loss to the Wildcats.  All of a sudden the road to six wins and a bowl berth appears a little cloudier. Terrapin Triumphs:  DJ Moore caught 12 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns.  Antoine Brooks tallies nine tackles and the defense snared a pair of interceptions.  Max Bortenschlager threw for three scores and was sacked just twice.  Terrapin Troubles:  the tailback tandem of Lorenzo Harrison and Ty Johnson gained just 51 yards on 19 carries.  The defense was exposed underneath multiple times as the pass rush wasn’t a factor.  The offense was also unable to take advantage of either turnover, going three and out after both picks.  Next:  Saturday at noon at #6 Wisconsin.

 

Virginia (5-1, 2-0 ACC) held off a second half surge by North Carolina to beat the Tar Heels 20-14.  Not only does this put UVa one step closer to bowl eligibility, but it’s also the school’s first win over UNC since 2009.  Cavalier Congrats:  the thunder and lightning backfield rained again:  Jordan Ellis ran for 136 yards while Olamide Zaccheaus added 100 yards receiving.  The defense held UNC to 46 passing yards and intercepted Brandon Harris three times.  Cavalier Concerns:  the offensive line allowed four sacks and Kurt Benkert lost one of his two fumbles.  UNC was able to run for 211 yards and stayed a lot closer than you’d think a 1-5 team would.  Next: Saturday at 12:30 p.m. against Boston College.

Navy (5-1, 3-1 AAC) finally saw their turnovers come back to haunt them in a 30-27 loss at Memphis.  Three fumbles and two interceptions gave the Tigers plenty of extra opportunities–and they turned those short fields into 13 points.  The West Division is still winnable, but there’s now no margin for error.  Midshipmen Medals:  Zach Abey rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns.  DJ Palmore led the defense that held the Tigers to 4-14 on third down with nine tackles and a forced fumble.  Owen White averaged 52 yards per punt.  Midshipmen Miscues:  one can’t say enough about the five turnovers.  The passing game (1-for-8 with 2 INTS) continues to be a weakness.  The defense hasn’t shown it can contain foes for four quarters…once again allowing 30 points or more.  Next:  Saturday at 3:30 against #20 UCF.

 

 

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