Big plays help Maryland QB Caleb Rowe overcome 3 INTs in win over USF

Caleb Rowe threw for 297 yards and four TDs, but he also had three interceptions. Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY Sports

It wasn't a perfect day for Maryland quarterback Caleb Rowe -- but it was good enough.

Coach Randy Edsall tabbed Rowe as the starter Saturday, just a month after relegating him to the third-string and after two weeks of Perry Hills playing the role of starter. Edsall felt Rowe could spread the field with his stronger arm and spark this offense.

He was right in the Terrapins' 35-17 win over South Florida. Mostly.

Rowe's big-play ability helped pace this offense, as he threw five completions of 20-or-more yards. Overall, he finished 21-of-33 for 297 yards and four TDs -- but also had three interceptions.

The redshirt junior was inconsistent, especially at first, but he still played well enough for the win. And probably well enough to squelch the talk of moving to another quarterback, at least for another week.

What the win means for Maryland: After losing to a MAC team at home last week, the Terps couldn't afford to lose to an AAC opponent at home again this week. The "easy" part of the schedule is over now, and the Terps will have to deal with West Virginia next week, followed by Michigan and Ohio State. It really heats up for Maryland now, and a loss certainly wouldn't have helped the confidence level.

What the loss means for South Florida: This wasn't a surprise. USF has never beaten a Big Ten team. So, for USF, it just has to be business as usual. It went 3-5 in the conference last season, and its focus has to be on improving that record this season.

Player of the game: The Jacobs Bros., Levern and Taivon, take a bow. They were involved in just about every big Maryland play against the Bulls. (See below.) At halftime, they accounted for a combined 161 yards, which was more than 71 percent of the passing offense. Levern finished the game with eight catches for 107 yards, while Taivon had two catches for 82 yards. Both played very well Saturday, and Maryland needed them both.

Top play: Rowe's 70-yard TD to Taivon Jacobs in the first quarter. Rowe heaved the ball about 30 yards, and Taivon caught it in stride around the 40-yard line. He had a step on the defender, and USF didn't stand a chance at bringing him down, as he sprinted the rest of the way to complete the 70-yard score. That gave the Terps a 14-7 edge, a lead they would never relinquish.

The game turned when ...: Levern Jacobs hauled in a 49-yard completion late in the first half. The catch was made with about 15 seconds left in the second quarter, and the Terps scored a touchdown a play after spiking the ball. That put a stop to USF's momentum -- it had just scored a field goal -- and extended the Terps' lead to 21-10 at halftime.

Uh, what?: Maryland running back Wes Brown was ejected in the second quarter after he was called for targeting. After USF intercepted the ball, Brown led with his helmet in trying to tackle the ball carrier. There was helmet-on-helmet contact, but both players were sliding simultaneously. The broadcasters didn't like the call initially, and the hit clearly wasn't malicious. It was a tough break for Brown.