The Washington Times - January 1, 2009, 12:22PM

Got to thinking during yesterday’s travels just how enjoyable a game the Humanitarian Bowl actually was.

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There was plenty of offense, plenty of unpredictability and plenty of subplots worth trying to wedge into the coverage.

It’s always much more fun as a writer to have plenty of material, and that afternoon sure provided it.

That’s unlike some other games, which were thoroughly uncompelling.

So  how about a ranking of Maryland’s 13 games in terms of general watchability? This takes into account the quality of play, the intriguing stories within the game, the general level of surprise at the result and the intangible “will I remember details of this thing in five years” element.

Close games are obviously higher (in general), since blowouts tend to turn into snoozefests. That would explain why so many of Maryland’s wins are near the top of the list.

OK, here goes, and feel free to disagree with an e-mail for mailbag use:

1. Maryland 42, Nevada 35: Just a fun game in general. A kickoff return for a score, curfew violation-related suspensions, one of those suspended players having a career game in a half, quality work from both lines, an opponent that could score in an instant and a big, shiny trophy to display in the team house. A wild, wild game.

2. Middle Tennessee 24, Maryland 14: The Mortification in Murfreesboro wasn’t as bad in retrospect, but it was still a jaw-dropping moment for a Terps team that entertained much bigger dreams than losing to a Sun Belt team. …

3. Maryland 35, California 27: … Yet a week later, the Terps throttled Cal for three quarters. It was another unpredictable moment for Maryland, though pretty much everything after this rated as less of a surprise simply because of the ingrained inconsistency.

4. Maryland 27, N.C. State 24: Obi Egekeze kicked the winning field goal in the final 10 seconds after a well-executed two-minute drill. Chris Turner’s pass to Davin Meggett to get the Terps into the red zone was one of the season’s most memorable plays.

5. Maryland 20, Clemson 17: This happened back when Clemson was supposed to win the ACC, and it came after an ugly first half. Three months later, I’m still not sure exactly how the Tigers lost this game.

6. Maryland 17, North Carolina 15: Another game decided in the fourth quarter, though it was sort of blah at points. Still, it was close, and that keeps it in the top half.

7. Virginia 31, Maryland 0: The Cavaliers looked as good as dead coming into this game, and then proceeded to disembowel the Terps. There’s a good case to be made this was Maryland’s worst game of the season, and it was a reality check that the Terps would be uneven throughout the year despite the September defeats of California and Clemson.

8. Maryland 26, Wake Forest 0: After a bye week, the Terps dominated the then-ranked Demon Deacons at Byrd Stadium. Maryland’s passing attack picked apart the staunch Wake Forest secondary, which rated as a surprise at the time.

9. Florida State 37, Maryland 3: The stakes were high, and the game was lopsided. This game had meaning, but it sure didn’t seem like Maryland believed it as it was run out of its home stadium on Senior Night.

10. Boston College 28, Maryland 21: The Terps didn’t have much to play for. Well, other than avoiding a trip to Boise. Sure, it was closer than the Florida State game, but Boston College seemed like it was in control most of the game.

11. Virginia Tech 23, Maryland 13: Really, this was just a plodding game. Darren Evans was phenomenal, and Maryland’s running game was downright terrible. But it felt like a house money game for the Terps coming in, and even a loss at that juncture didn’t seem that harmful.

12. Maryland 14, Delaware 7: This was the start (and the end, as it turned out) of the Jordan Steffy Era, Version 2.0. But the Terps’ offense was unremarkable once inside the 30, and Delaware turned out to be a sub-.500 Division I-AA team. Would have been last without the quarterback subplot.

13. Maryland 51, Eastern Michigan 24: Morgan Green and Josh Portis scored their first career touchdowns, and Adrian Moten got hurt coming down on his wrist while making an interception. So it’s not like nothing happened. But overall, this was exactly the sort of yawner you expect when you shell out a ton of money for one of major college football’s worst programs to come to your stadium.

Patrick Stevens