Reagan and Mondale played the electoral college game earlier this month; Maryland and Virginia played the electric college game today -- flick a switch and somebody scoots into the end zone.

"Sometimes," Maryland quarterback Frank Reich was saying, "I wish we had a 16-game schedule, like the pros. We're on such a roll, I feel we're almost unbeatable."

Unstoppable, for sure.

Among the nice things that could be said about Virginia is that the Terrapins had 45 points halfway through the fourth quarter -- and still were worried.

The guys in those suits that look like two shades of sherbet can play, as we've sensed for weeks. Some turnaround by the Cavaliers: 38 points against Maryland the last eight years, 34 today.

No fire and fall back these days from the 'Hoos and Turtles. The clock finally did what neither defense could -- put a halt to the scoring.

When that happened, Maryland had set a list of records as long as one of its heroes everybody finally noticed, Rick Badanjek.

Badanjek is the other very good fullback in the Washington area, about half as tall as John Riggins but nearly as heavy. Imagine legs strapped to a bowling ball and you have Badanjek in full flight.

At 5 feet 9 and 223 pounds, Badanjek is easily overlooked. Defenders tend to do that, only to have him either slither past them for 34 touchdowns in three years or rattle them yards upfield on blocks.

"Tough little midget," said Terrapins linebacker Chuck Faucette, who has been belted by Badanjek often in scrimmages. "First time I saw him was in the weight room, benching 430 pounds with three reps.

"When it's head-buttin' time, he's the man we go to."

That would be in short-yardage situations, on third or fourth down, or near the end zone. When Reich wants a touchdown, he calls Badanjek's number but in a strange way.

"Wing Right Pro, Zoom, 39 Toss" is how Reich lets Badanjek know he wants him to run left behind a couple of blockers that would make oak trees squeamish.

"The coaches sort of joke about it," Reich said. "When we're stuck for a play, that's what we go to.

"It's pretty obvious what we're gonna do down there; it still works. Old Reliable, we call him."

Defenders are not the only ones who overlook Badanjek, he having failed to make the all-Atlantic Coast Conference team this season.

"The only thing that matters in this game is production," said defensive coordinator Gib Romaine. "And he produces. He blocks, he catches, he runs, he scores. He's a money player."

What Badanjek nearly never does is bust one much past the line of scrimmage. The fleet fleet -- runners Alvin Blount and Tommy Neal and catchers Greg Hill and Azizuddin Abdur-Ra'oof -- does the long-distance hauling.


Until today.

Maryland's offense snapped alive midway through the second quarter when Badanjek took a pitch left and only stopped when he wanted to, 65 yards later in the end zone.

Some of his friends chopped Virginia at the line, and slightly past, and Badanjek slipped past Ray Daly. Hardly tuckered, Badanjek barreled almost untouched for the two points that tied the score at 14.

"He usually turns those up too quickly," Reich said of the touchdown run. The last two weeks the coaches have been trying to get him to stay outside, because the tailback's been getting a great block."

To the offense, that run was like a starter's pistol at a track meet. On your mark, get set, go -- for gains long enough to be measured in acres.

Virginia had surprised Maryland early, with more man-for-man coverage, and blitzes on first down. That meant that quick openers might fetch quick touchdowns.

A fairly slow-developing play featured Badanjek early in the third quarter. Reich slipped him the ball on a draw, tight end Ferrell Edmunds spun a Cavalier aside and Badanjek was off again.

It didn't really take Badanjek 314 steps to go 72 yards; it just seemed that way. Neither did darkness overtake him before a Cavalier did. Fact is, when Neal dashed over the goal line the next play, Maryland had driven 83 yards in 27 seconds.

"I thought I should have made it (the all-ACC team)," said Badanjek. He was seated on his stool in the dressing room, bags about half his size stacked nearby, as though he still wanted to make it difficult for anyone to reach him.

A welt dominated his forehead; blood was caked on his nose.

"Our offense is so well balanced," he said. "It's hard to stop all of the things we have. We're like a pro offense."

Maryland' coaches also were winning the guessing game on plays. Badanjek's runs helped set up counter plays for Blount and Neal, and that allowed Reich to execute a beautiful bit of deception for the second touchdown.

Faking to Neal, Reich pulled the ball back, rolled left a bit and pitched it 25 yards to Abdur-Ra'oof, who was open by about 25 yards in the end zone. Simple game, football.

"When we get it going," said Reich, still somewhat dazzled by the 40-points-a-game offense, even after so many games, "we can pretty much score any time we touch the ball."

This magnificent Maryland air show seems too special to waste on an obscure opponent for a relatively minor prize -- the Sun Bowl. Brigham Young would be a worthy test.

What a grand game that might be: 63-56 at the gun -- for halftime.