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Old Bay is for Closers: Maryland, Good Coaching, and a 3-0 Start

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Coaching has made all the difference in College Park, as the Terps are 3-0 and cruising.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

I was in Colorado for work and visiting friends, so I never saw any of the game. I have just watched extensive highlights.

Careful, Larry, you’re closer to a true OTE writer every day...

Maryland Terrapins 20, Illinois Fighting Illini 17

I cannot emphasize enough how psychological and emotional elements affect the outcome of a college football game. I think, fundamentally, that is the appeal for most of us and why we continue to support a business empire that is so corrupt at its foundation.

If Tayon Fleet-Davis does not fumble on the Illini 6 yard line, MD scores and goes up 17-3, and Illinois crumbles at that point. Instead Illinois drives down and scores to tie the game 10-10. And then Maryland fumbles the ball only to have another Illinois player pick it up for a scoop and score. Illinois 17, MD 10.

At this point, past Maryland teams would have folded.

Instead, Maryland scored twice in their last two possessions, whereas Illinois punted on fourth and 1 in Maryland territory (bad call Bert*). Illinois followed that with their last possession where they punted from their end zone on a 4th and 37 after two sacks and a completion to their center.

Bookending their NFL pre-season game against Howard University, MD won their opener agasint WVU and won in Illinois in the last five minutes of each game.

On one hand, these games were against West Virginia and Illinois. Even though neither is a powerhouse, the Mountaineers just knocked off 15th ranked Virginia Tech. But, comparing the last two possessions of Maryland to those of Illinois illustrates the difference between a competent, solid football team that executes when it counts and a bad team that doesn’t.

I thought the 7-point spread was about right. I am fine with just coming out with a win, and this game does not change my thoughts on Maryland. I predicted starting out 4-0 and then struggling to go 3-5 the rest of the way for a 7-5 record. This still seems about right.
*He just seems more like a Bert than a Bret.

Next: vs. Kent State Golden Flashes (Saturday, 2:30pm CT, BTN)

I cannot emphasize enough how psychological and emotional elements affect the outcome of a college football game. If Maryland had obliterated Illinois like a lot of folks were predicting, the Terrapins would have surely lost to Kent State coming up this Saturday. With Iowa coming into College Park the following week, MD would have overlooked Kent State in a classic trap game.

But, with the close win at Illinois, I think Kent State, who put up a pretty good game against two top-10 teams, Texas A&M and Iowa, will get max effort and focus from Mike Locksley & Co.