Late in the first half, with Maryland already five touchdowns ahead of Indiana State, the only suspense left was whether Terrapin quarterback Boomer Esiason would break the school's percentage-of-completion record.
Esiason had already completed 13 of 14 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, ahead of the pace set in 1974, when Bob Avellini completed 10 of 11 passes against Duke.
But Esiason came back for the opening drive of the second half and missed his only pass, and with it the record. Still, his first-half performance was enough to lead Maryland (3-2) to its third straight victory, 38-0, over the Division I-AA Sycamores before 31,500 at Byrd Stadium.
Coach Bobby Ross said he wasn't aware of the record, and that the offensive coaching staff had decided that Esiason should play the first series of the second half.
"I thought I had it, anyway," Esiason said. "Well, it doesn't matter."
After close road losses to highly ranked Penn State and West Virginia, Maryland has now outscored its last three opponents, 87-9, and hasn't allowed a touchdown in the last two games.
But this is no time for Maryland (3-2) to celebrate, because the Terrapins face Wake Forest, Duke, North Carolina, Miami and Clemson in successive games beginning next week.
Indiana State played Maryland only because Villanova, the original opponent, dropped its football program before last season.
Sycamore Coach Dennis Raetz sat looking devastated afterward, and recounted what he told his team at halftime, when it trailed, 35-0.
"I told them to try not to get anymore embarrassed, and any more players hurt," Raetz said. "I really respect Coach Ross for how he conducted himself the second half. Not only could he have scored a bunch of points on us (after halftime) but he could have made it tough for our team to play the rest of the year."
Indiana State starting quarterback Jeff Miller was taken to the hospital in the second half to be treated for bruises to his ribs and kidneys, Raetz said.
The Maryland defense, ranked third in the nation against the rush, and probably first in brutalizing quarterbacks, has knocked out the opposing quarterback in each of the last three games. The Terrapins recorded eight more sacks yesterday, giving them 20 in the last three games.
The rout began immediately. Maryland moved 83 yards in nine plays and went ahead, 7-0, on Willie Joyner's 15-yard touchdown run. It was 14-0 after Esiason's eight-yard touchdown pass to Greg Hill, which was set up by a 23-yard pass to Mike Lewis. Esiason had completed his first seven passes for 93 yards at that point.
Esiason began the second quarter by passing over the middle to receiver Darryl Emerson, who broke three tackles en route to a 38-yard touchdown play, making it 21-0. Esiason now had completed 11 of 12 for 159 yards.
Esiason made it 28-0 by sneaking in from the one, after his third-and-14 pass to Spencer Scriber covered 37 yards. That drive was also sustained by John Nash's 18-yard run on a third-down option play on which the receiver was covered.
On the next series, after Lewis' 23-yard punt return, fullback Rick Badanjek took a handoff on first down and ran 34 yards for a touchdown and a 35-0 lead, with four minutes still remaining in the first quarter.
Jesse Atkinson kicked a 43-yard field goal, his seventh straight, in the third quarter to make it 38-0, but ended the streak in the fourth quarter by missing a 42-yarder.
Indiana State had long been out of it. "They came in here thinking they could run the ball," said Maryland receiver Greg Hill. "But Syracuse (which gained only 23 yards rushing last week) thought that, too."
The Sycamores gained 66 yards rushing on 36 attempts. They completed only nine of 19 passes for 59 yards and converted zero of seven third-down plays in the first half.
Maryland, meanwhile, was spreading the offense around, as 12 players caught passes and 12 carried. Joyner led all rushers with 76 yards.
The only unpleasant moment for Maryland came with five minutes left in the half, when defensive end Gurnest Brown was kicked in his left thigh and had to leave the game. It was later announced that the injury was not serious and would not cause Brown to miss a game.
The most impressive performer was Esiason, whose best moments in the first three games had been counterbalanced by turnovers.
"I usually play two good quarters and two bad ones," Esiason said. "So I decided to have just two good ones today. The other quarterbacks were very complimentary about the way I played. But -- and how can I put this delicately?--it was much easier to do what we wanted today."
Other Maryland players felt the same way.
"I don't think we should ever have a game like this again," said tight end Ron Fazio. "I know what it's like to lose, 35-0. You want to get it over with and leave so bad. I think they started to feel like that after the first series. It's great for team morale, I suppose. But it doesn't do a whole lot toward helping us prepare for what's coming up."