Maryland guard Len Lynch, 30 minutes after kicking Clemson in the teeth, saw no need for fancy explanations today: "We just kicked their . . . Well, let's just say we put it to them, and they probably know it."
Everyone in the crowd of 60,575 had to know it. Maryland rushed for 406 yards, including Alvin Blount's 214, and bullied 20th-ranked Clemson, 41-23, in the chill of Memorial Stadium.
As with its 42-40 victory last week over Miami, the second half was all Maryland. After Clemson took a 23-17 lead early in the second half, Maryland scored the next 24 points, ending with two touchdown runs by Tommy Neal.
It was the fifth straight victory for the Terrapins (7-3) and probably the most satisfying for Maryland since Bobby Ross took over as head coach three years ago.
It also set up an Atlantic Coast Conference championship game against Virginia next Saturday in Charlottesville. The winner of that game will win the conference title.
Meanwhile, Clemson lost its first November game in four years and left Coach Danny Ford to say, "I think this was the worst defense I've seen a Clemson team play since 1980."
The Terrapins, mainly the offensive line, administered a beating, pure and simple. Ford, asked if the Maryland line formed "gaping" holes, said, "I don't even know how to spell gaping, but I know they were a mile wide."
Besides Blount's 214 yards (on 29 carries) and two touchdowns, Neal rushed 13 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns, and Rick Badanjek carried 15 times for 91 yards and a touchdown.
William Perry's size 22 neck may have a lasting cramp from having to turn so many times watching Maryland backs buzz past him. Perry, Clemson's 340-pound middle guard whose nickname is "the Refrigerator," was rendered a veritable nonfactor by 260-pound center Kevin Glover.
Maryland's line did such a number on Clemson's defensive front, Lynch thought his unit deserved a new nickname. "How about the 'Defrosters?' " Lynch asked. "I think you could say we unplugged the Refrigerator today."
And Neal said, "The Refrigerator? I haven't seen him yet."
Add Frank Reich's 171 passing yards and Maryland finished with 577 yards of total offense, 302 coming in the first half. The Terrapins' 35 first downs were their most since 1975. If Greg Hill and Azizuddin Abdur-Ra'oof had managed to hold onto touchdown passes, Maryland would have had at least eight more points.
As it turned out, Maryland didn't need any additional scoring, especially with tackle Bruce Mesner and defensive back Donald Brown helping hold Clemson to 154 yards in the second half.
The Terrapins took a 7-0 lead on Blount's eight-yard touchdown run five minutes into the game. He followed Glover, who stood up Perry, then pushed him back about five yards from the line of scrimmage.
Clemson evened the score, 7-7, when Mike Eppley threw an 11-yard scoring pass to Shelton Boyer. It was ironic how the usual team personalities had reversed.
Clemson, traditionally a power team, threw five passes in that 10-play drive. Maryland, in its first drive, ran eight of 10 plays.
Maryland put the ball up more in the next drive and took a 14-7 lead on Badanjek's three-yard run.
Then Maryland ran into problems. Perry sacked Reich, forced a fumble, then recovered at Maryland's 26.
The Tigers had to settle for a 23-yard field goal that made it 14-10, but got the ball right back when a high center snap from Eddie Shultz helped Clemson block Darryl Wright's punt.
Replays showed that Eppley's three-yard touchdown pass on fourth and two bounced before it reached Terry Flagler. But it stood and Clemson had a 17-14 lead with more than a minute left in the half.
The Terrapins, with passes going to Greg Hill (25 yards), Ferrell Edmunds (17 yards) and Eric Holder (17 yards), moved to Clemson's 18 with less than 30 seconds left.
But on the next play, Hill dropped a touchdown pass that hit him in the chest. The Terrapins had to settle for a 28-yard field goal from Jess Atkinson and a 17-17 halftime tie.
Considering the way Maryland came back from 31 points down last week at Miami, many must have thought the Terrapins would come out throwing.
Clemson did take a 23-17 lead (the point-after attempt failed) on the opening series when Kenny Flowers ran 48 yards for a touchdown.
Even then, Maryland held its ground and moved the Tigers off theirs.
Blount ran 16 yards on first down, Badanjek 11 yards on second down. After Hill caught a pass for nine yards, Blount ran for 10 more. Then Blount ran for 13 more. One play later, he went 13 yards for the touchdown that put Maryland in the lead for good, 24-23. Neal finished the afternoon with touchdowns of 19 and four yards after Atkinson's 36-yard field goal.
Ross, as he often does, spoke after the game of "establishing the run." Specifically, Maryland wanted to establish its ability to pick up five or more yards on sweep plays.
By running sweeps, Maryland could get Clemson's linebackers to run side to side. Then, Maryland would take advantage of Clemson's pursuit by running counter plays.
The counter play Maryland ran often began with a fake pitch to Badanjek. That would get the linebackers and defensive backs thinking "sweep." Then Blount or Neal would burst up the middle or off tackle and continue to cut back against the overpursuing defenders.
In addition, Reich explained, Clemson was so busy trying to make sure Maryland didn't pass the ball that "they were constantly short a man at the line of scrimmage."
The outside linebackers, or "bandits" as they are called in Clemson's system -- Terence Mack and Ken Brown -- were dropping back off the line looking for the pass. Usually, it didn't come.
"They were double-covering our receivers," Reich said, "and they were a man short up front all day. All we did was find where they were a man short, and call the play in that direction."
It helped that the Clemson defenders kept running back and forth and being baited by every Maryland call.
The Terrapins' offensive line took care of the rest. "We just dominated them," right tackle J.D. Maarleveld said. "We came off the ball low, and we came off the ball hard."
Ross played down how he felt about beating Clemson, the only ACC team he had not won against in three years at Maryland. "You reach a level where they all mean about the same," he said. "I do think consecutive wins over nationally ranked teams is a more significant accomplishment."
Ross' players, however, expressed satisfaction with the victory, especially since many Clemson players kept taunting them by screaming the score of last year's 52-27 Clemson victory.
And as Badanjek said, "We wanted this. I wanted to run it up so high . . . I think they know we whupped their cans."