Joe Kraus sat at his locker on the day after, still trying to put The Greatest Major-College Comeback into proper and lasting perspective: "It's historic," said Kraus, Maryland's senior cornerback. "It's the greatest comeback ever, right? We're talking Bronko Nagurski and everything?
"It's heavy, what we did. But you know what? On the plane ride back home, nobody was going crazy, not even on the bus ride to campus. You wanted to jump up and down and celebrate and go nuts and be ecstatic. But the whole thing was so unbelievable, it was hard enough to just move. Most of the guys just sat there and tried to understand it."
Kraus said he was afraid to get out of bed yesterday morning. "I kept thinking we were going to wake up and realize we had lost."
But when the Terrapins woke up the victory was still theirs, just as it was when they left the Orange Bowl Saturday as 42-40 winners over defending national champion Miami, overcoming a 31-0 halftime deficit.
The victory set off a major celebration in College Park. Hundreds greeted the team bus when it rolled onto campus. Students were hanging from their windows with banners, and television cameras were everywhere. "You'd think we had won the national championship," linebacker Chuck Faucette said.
"I woke up this morning and turned on the television. I kept switching the channel with the remote control and on every station somebody was saying, 'And how about those Terps yesterday coming back to beat Miami.' We're in history now; I'm in history now. It's permanent. Can you believe this?"
Most of yesterday afternoon in College Park was a quiet celebration. Players came to the football building before 3 and the videotape recorder started showing what had happened just 24 hours earlier.
Faucette provided his own color commentary, which included shrill screams when the replays showed cornerback Donald (Jackhammer) Brown making some hard hits on the Miami receivers.
Sean Sullivan, an injured wide receiver, was one of the players seeing the broadcast for the second time. He did not make the trip south, but watched from his dorm room.
"At the end of the first half, a lot of television sets got turned off," Sullivan said. "I knew we would never quit, but I was hoping we'd score some points and not get embarrassed. When we started coming back, people were walking up and down the halls screaming. And out in the courtyard (after the game), one guy dragged a keg of beer out and about 150 people were just going crazy."
Frank Reich, the primary hero of the day, stood with Stan Gelbaugh, the man he replaced at quarterback in the second half, and enjoyed the game for the first time.
Reich played his best game yet. Trailing, 31-0, he threw three touchdown passes, ran for a fourth score and set up two more.
"It's something you wish everybody could experience but unfortunately, can't," Reich said. "I just wish it could happen to everybody once so they could have the privilege, the feeling, how it just rushes in you. Just think, there's been a hell of a lot of college football games played in over 100 years. And this is the greatest comeback in history. I'll tell you one thing. I don't want to have to do it again."
Saturday, it was absolutely necessary. In all of the excitement, it's easy to forget that Maryland played poorly in the first half. Rick Badanjek dropped a third-down pass that ended one drive and Ron Fazio dropped a fourth-down pass in the end zone that could have kept Maryland within 14-7.
The defense had its problems, too. After the dropped pass, Maryland let Melvin Bratton bounce off six tacklers and turn a two-yard gain into a 13-yarder.
The defense took great pain to stop wideouts Stanley Shakespeare and Eddie Brown. But Miami countered by going to tight end Willie Smith (12 catches, two touchdowns) and halfback Bratton (seven catches, 169 yards).
Maryland went back to its more basic defenses in the second half, and they worked. Eddie Brown, who had been taunting Maryland's Donald Brown early in the game, was hit so hard by him in the second half that he dropped a sure touchdown when he took his eye off the ball to watch the defender.
Donald Brown jumped up and shouted, "I'm the baddest Brown on this field."
Defensive tackle Ted Chapman sprained a knee and tackle Tony Edwards got a hip pointer. Their status for the Clemson game will be determined later this week.
If the Terrapins can win one of their remaining two games, they may go to the Aloha Bowl in Honolulu Dec. 29, where they would probably play UCLA. Southern Methodist, like Maryland, dearly wants to play in Hawaii. With the Terrapins' basketball team beginning play there on Christmas Day in the Rainbow Classic and Maryland's gymnastic team competing in Hawaii at the same time, the scheduling would be ideal for the Terrapins.
But first, the Terrapins have to play Clemson, Saturday in Baltimore, and Virginia, Nov. 24 in Charlottesville. Maryland officials said yesterday they are expecting 60,000 for the Clemson game. And Dick Dull, the school's athletic director, said he could sell "10,000 more tickets if I had them" after what happened in Miami.
John Slaughter, the university chancellor, and his wife came to the team building yesterday and visited with many of the players. It was Slaughter, who at the end of the first half, said in the Orange Bowl press box, "Sit down and get ready for the greatest comeback ever."
Several bowls are interested in Virginia, following its 45-0 shutout of North Carolina State in Charlottesville. The Citrus, Peach and Hall of Fame are the primary bowls still seeking the Cavaliers as they move into Saturday's Atlantic Coast Conference game at North Carolina.