So how does Maryland, a team that stumbles to victory against Delaware and is outright embarassed by Middle Tennessee State, come back and punch California in the mouth 35-27?
It wasn't the time change, and it sure wasn't the humidity, no matter what the broadcasters might have kept nattering on about. These are college athletes, for crying out loud. If anything was effected by the cross country trip, it was the fact that Berkeley apparently left their offensive line on the tarmac in California. The Terps were stopping their opponent's running game at will, and sacking quarterback Kevin Riley pretty regularly. (It didn't help that Riley, a sophomore quarterback, liked to leave the pocket a little too often, and was punished for it.)
The important thing for Maryland though was that the Terps put together a complete offense - well near complete, as they're 0-5 in field goal kicking on the season - first behind Da'Rel Scott's running in the first half and Davin Meggett's in the second. With that running game established, Chris Turner actually had a chance to find a passing game. It was good offensive coaching, with more than a couple of trick plays to keep the Cal defense guessing. With small-ball type play that wore time off the clock and kept the defense on the field mixed with defensive stands that kept Berkeley to six points in the first three quarters and Maryland could ride the momentum through the fourth quarter doldrums.
Duke also gave the ACC the edge in the Congressional Bowl race, outscoring Navy and matching the win total of their last three seasons combined. If Virginia finds a way to beat Connecticut tonight - a distinct possibility with both teams locked in equal futility - the ACC could end this week 4-0 against non-conference competition. It's a simple accomplishment that would have seemed impossible earlier this week.
One more question: is the ACC conference-panic contagious? First Rutgers loses to UNC, tipping the balance so that everyone realizes the Big East is absolutely abysmal. Now the Terps drop Cal, and we all start doing the math. UDub, WSU, OSU and Stanford had already been written off, and now those Oregon, ASU and UCLA games become really important to keep the Pac-10 from going the same route.