Maryland football added another chapter to its midseason slide Oct. 26 at No. 17 Minnesota, as the undefeated Golden Gophers picked up a commanding 52-10 victory.
The Terps (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) were dominated on both sides of the ball, failing to find a rhythm on offense or get their defense off the field. Minnesota scored on its first three drives, led 28-3 at halftime and stretched the advantage to 45-3 in the second half, ultimately winning by that 42-point margin. The Gophers outgained Maryland 498-210 overall, including 321 yards rushing.
Maryland used three different quarterbacks during the game. Tyrrell Pigrome started, struggled and left with an injury. Josh Jackson threw only two passes. Tyler DeSue, who hadn’t played since the Howard game, finished the contest. He had one big moment, a 59-yard touchdown to Tayon Fleet-Davis, but it was otherwise a painful performance all around.
Here’s what stood out from another defeat.
1. This was out of reach in a hurry.
Maryland’s first three drives: interception, punt, punt.
Minnesota’s first three drives: touchdown, touchdown, touchdown. It was 21-0 just like that.
Along the way, the Golden Gophers outgained the Terps 195-24. They had their way through the air (Tanner Morgan started 8-of-11 for 101 yards) and on the ground (94 yards on 15 rushes).
The Maryland defense made its first stop in the middle of the second quarter, and the offense responded by driving inside Minnesota’s 30. But on a third-and-11, Pigrome’s pass went through Dontay Demus’ hands and fell right to Gopher cornerback Coney Durr, who ran it back 72 yards for a pick-six. That made it 28-0 and erased any doubt well before 5 p.m. ET.
2. Maryland used three quarterbacks, and none were inspiring.
Pigrome started the game and went 6-of-9 for 43 yards. The other three passes, though, included two deflections that became interceptions. One of those picks was returned for a touchdown. The redshirt junior then left the field favoring his left knee in the second quarter and was ruled out before the second half began.
Jackson was “back in full” at practice this week, head coach Michael Locksley said, but he appeared on only one drive in this game and went 0-for-2.
This was DeSue’s first extended action of the season, as he entered late in the first half and remained in the game the rest of the way -- although Minnesota bled so much clock that this didn’t translate to that many chances. DeSue, a redshirt freshman, finished 4-of-12 for 88 yards and a score, although one 59-yard touchdown makes that line look much better.
It’s hard to say what any of this means going forward. Jackson is still recovering from his injury, Pigrome left this contest injured. DeSue has seen an uptick in first-team reps recently, but still hasn’t seen extended action as a Terp. And if the group continues to be woefully ineffective -- the trio combined to complete 10 of 23 passes for 131 yards, even with the one big play -- it won’t matter.
3. Minnesota dominated time of possession.
The Gophers held the ball for 42:53 of game time. No, that’s not a misprint.
Minnesota’s offense didn’t light Maryland up for many massive gains, instead slowly grinding the Terps’ defense into the dust. The Gophers’ second drive of the game -- an 84-yard march -- lasted 13 plays and took 7:29 off the clock. Their third drive was nine plays for 81 yards in 4:14. And in the second half, they had scoring drives of 4:41, 7:41, 6:58 and 3:41.
Rodney Smith led the rushing attack with 103 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Shannon Brooks added 56 yards on 10 attempts. Four other players added at least 30 yards. Add that all up, and the group result is a whopping 321 yards on the ground. Add that to a 7-of-11 success rate on third down, and that’s how a game like this ends in just over three hours.
4. The Terps continued a streak and snapped a drought.
With Marcus Lewis’ interception on a deep ball late in the first half, Maryland secured its 20th consecutive game with a takeaway, the now-longest active streak in the FBS after Syracuse had its 21-game streak snapped against Florida State Saturday.
Another notable Maryland factoid entering this game was the Terps’ 0-for-2 mark on field goals. That changed at the end of the first half, as sophomore Joseph Petrino connected from 31 yards out. It was an inconsequential kick, as it made a four-score game … well, still a four-score game. But it means Maryland won’t hold this particular dubious distinction at season’s end.
5. The schedule doesn’t get easier.
Maryland has lost five of six contests, with the only win coming at Rutgers on Oct. 5. This one wasn’t exactly a surprise, as Minnesota is unbeaten and ranked. But now comes the part of the schedule that was supposed to be especially challenging. The Terps host Michigan and Nebraska, with road trips to Ohio State and Michigan State. They haven’t beaten any of those teams since 2016, and they might be underdogs in all four contests coming home. An 0-7 finish for a 3-9 record is very much on the table.
Anyway, basketball season starts in 10 days.