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Saturday, September 13, 2008
Terps play up -- and down -- to their competition

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

 
 AP Photo/Nick Wass
 Maryland running back Da'Rel Scott ran for 87 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Some teams in the ACC have two quarterbacks. Maryland has two personalities.

The good one showed up today in a 35-27 upset of Cal -- a complete turnaround from the way Maryland looked a week ago in its road loss to Middle Tennessee.

The only explanation for what happened in College Park today is what has happened the past few seasons: Maryland has played to the level of its competition. The Terps have been known to fluctuate by quarters, by halves, and game to game.

It's clear, though, that when they put together four complete quarters, the Terps can be a dangerous team.

In 2007, the Terps beat two top 10 teams in Rutgers and Boston College but lost to struggling North Carolina and Florida State teams. Against Wake Forest, Maryland was the better team for three quarters and led 24-3 before imploding in the fourth and losing in overtime.

The only thing that's certain about this team is its uncertainty.

For the most part against Cal, Maryland looked dominant. Four different players scored touchdowns. Quarterback Chris Turner, a native of Simi Valley, Calif., put on a heck of a show for about half a dozen friends and family members who flew across the country to see him. Turner completed 15 of 19 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns. A week ago he threw three interceptions and joked on Thursday that he could only get better.

It's amazing what a week can do in College Park.

Part of Maryland's early troubles can be attributed to the fact they're in a new offensive system under first-year coordinator James Franklin, but this is a senior-laden team that finally played like it today. The offensive line didn't play up to its capabilities a week ago. Today it made a difference, but it was the defense that stole the spotlight.

Holding Jahvid Best, the leading rusher in the Pac-10 with 155.5 yards per game, to just 25 yards on 10 carries was huge. Yes, they allowed 461 total yards, but stopped Cal on third downs (2 of 11).

Before Maryland fans get too excited, though, remember they're playing Eastern Michigan next, not Michigan.