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Maryland 24, Clemson 21/Virginia 16, North Carolina 3. Maryland had about as bad a September as it could have had -- its second straight loss to a Sun Belt team, an overtime escape against a I-AA team, and blowouts at the hands of Rutgers and Cal -- and still some of us saw the Terps coming a mile away here as a two-touchdown home underdog. Maryland with its back against the wall early against Clemson with nothing particular on the line is almost like shooting fish in a barrel at this point. It's the ACC; it's how they do.
The only way the Terps' opening month could have been worse is if it was Virginia's September, a bumbling 0-3 odyssey that left the Cavs well outside the realm even of nonsensical Atlantic Coast Absurdity. At least Maryland beat its I-AA opponent; UVA was thoroughly outplayed by William & Mary in its opener and by TCU and Southern Miss in subsequent. It's only natural, then, that Al Groh and Co. emerge from the meditation of a bye week to advance the equivalent of gridiron dadaism by completely shutting down a team that just one week ago still resided in the top-25, on the road. UVA and Carolina combined for 17 punts and didn't score a touchdown until the fourth quarter; the Tar Heels finished with a pathetic 173 yards total offense on 2.9 yards per snap, but probably suffered more from committing three turnovers to the Cavaliers' zero, one of which led to the game's only touchdown.
So Maryland and Virginia, the conference's worst teams over the first four weeks, led by beleaguered coaches bound for the chopping block, currently sit atop their respective divisions at 1-0 in conference play. At least one of them is going to a bowl game for the third straight year. You know this; you can't explain it, but you know it. And so it begins.