No matter how much of a disappointment this season becomes, Maryland always has the memory of Labor Day night. The Terrapins stormed onto the field wearing garish costumes that attracted the attention of LeBron James and others. They beat Miami in a nationally televised game. As it turned out, Maryland became a one-hit wonder this season. Now the Terrapins want to recapture that moment by wearing the Maryland Pride uniforms in another nationally televised game, this one Saturday night vs. Notre Dame at FedEx Field. Careful. Hauling out bold uniforms again is akin to trying to sell a remix. Most are not as good as the original. Let’s just say there’s a reason there was no memorable remix of “Ice Ice Baby.” Being a one-hit wonder is not the worst thing in the world.
(On that note, one reader asked me what song best sums up Maryland’s season so far. I may revisit this question in a poll after the season. But her suggestions: Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House” or Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”)
Let’s be real here: Notre Dame should win decisively. Michael Floyd is one of the nation’s best wide receivers. Only three Notre Dame players have recorded more touchdowns in their careers than Floyd, who has 35 career touchdowns. Notre Dame is one of 10 FBS schools that rank in the top 40 in total offense, total defense, scoring offense and scoring defense. The Fighting Irish have allowed just five sacks this season, which is tied for fifth fewest in the nation. Over the last four games, Notre Dame has converted 17 red zone trips into 15 touchdowns. Linebacker Manti Te’o has 15 career games with 10 or more tackles. Freshman George Atkinson III is one of four FBS players with two kickoff returns for touchdowns this season. Should I go on?
But there is one way Maryland will have a chance to win the game: create turnovers. By my count, just seven teams in the country have had more takeaways than the Terrapins, who have a combined 23 fumble recoveries and interceptions. On the flip side, Notre Dame is in a three-way tie for 118th in turnover margin. No team is ranked worse than the Fighting Irish in this category. They have 10 takeaways and 22 giveaways. In its season-opening loss to South Florida, Notre Dame lost two of four fumbles and threw three interceptions. The next week, in a classic game against Michigan, Notre Dame lost three of four fumbles and threw two interceptions in a loss. And in the Oct. 22 loss to Southern California, the Fighting Irish lost both of their fumbles and threw an interception. Man alive. So the recipe for success is clear for the Terrapins: create turnovers against a team that often gift-wraps them with a pretty bow on top.
Maryland is expected to go with its typical quarterback shuffle again. Trenton Hughes will start at cornerback, freshman A.J. Hendy at safety. Another thing to watch: Notre Dame center Braxston Cave, who has started 22 straight games, is out with injury. That is not insignificant. Bottom line: Maryland loses a road game about 10 miles from campus.
Notre Dame 44, Maryland 20
Thoughts on the game? Thoughts on a song that sums up the season?