It was easy to declare that Maryland’s losses to Middle Tennessee and Virginia were abysmal stains upon the program, just like victories over California and Clemson were seminal moments for the program.
But sometimes, a little perspective – and, more importantly, time – helps put everything in its proper place.
Granted, Maryland’s losses this year weren’t viewed as bad so much because of who the Terps lost to (though that mattered, too), but rather how they lost. No amount of perspective changes that.
But in hindsight, not every win or loss is as valuable or worthless as first thought. Here’s a rundown of each of Maryland’s first seven games (the N.C. State victory is excluded because 48 hours later, it doesn’t look much different).
* Maryland 14, Delaware 7. This didn’t look terribly pretty, but it was an opener and Delaware was a regional opponent that is one of the top programs in the former Division I-AA. Well, the Blue Hens are still in the region, but they’re 3-5 and not enjoying a typical season. Verdict: Looks slightly worse in retrospect.
* Middle Tennessee 24, Maryland 14: The Blue Raiders haven’t won on the road yet this season, though they nearly won at Kentucky. But they were undermanned to start with, and it’s become even more obvious while stumbling to a 2-6 record. Middle Tennessee also lost to Louisville and Mississippi State. Verdict: About what everyone originally thought.
* Maryland 35, California 27: The Golden Bears were ranked at the time, and probably should be ranked now. It was a cross-country trip, and everyone’s assessment of Maryland’s critical victory was tinged with that reality. This is the Terps’ best win, and could remain that way all season. Verdict: About what everyone originally thought.
* Maryland 51, Eastern Michigan 24. It was a blowout of a bad team then. And it’s a blowout of a bad team that’s already clinched another losing season now. Verdict: About what everyone originally thought.
* Maryland 20, Clemson 17. No one saw Clemson completely crumbling apart. But the Tigers’ deconstruction started during the second half of Maryland’s visit. It seemed great to beat a ranked team favored to win the conference, but through no fault of Maryland’s that victory is about the same as any other road victory: Nice, needed but not overwhelmingly special. Verdict: Less valuable than first anticipated.
* Virginia 31, Maryland 0. The Terps still stunk the place up – there’s no changing that. But the Cavaliers have won four straight to climb into the Coastal Division lead, so the actual loss itself is not terribly damaging. Verdict: Not nearly as bad as first anticipated.
* Maryland 26, Wake Forest 0. Division victories are nice. But Wake Forest is clearly struggling to do much of anything at this stage. The win got Maryland back into the division lead, but the Demon Deacons probably aren’t a team that will approach the top 25 again this year. Verdict: Slightly less valuable than first anticipated.