COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Justus Pickett ran for a 6-yard touchdown with 9:52 left in the fourth quarter, and Brad Craddock added the tie-breaking extra point to give Maryland a 7-6 victory over William & Mary in the season opener for both teams Saturday.Maryland gave a sloppy performance against its Football Championship Subdivision opponent, which led most of the game before losing its opener for the 10th time in 11 years.The Terrapins won despite turning the ball over four times and missing a short field goal.Freshman quarterback Perry Hills, in his first collegiate start, completed 16 of 24 for 145 yards and directed the winning 10-play, 69-yard drive, but he threw three interceptions.Maryland defensive back Dexter McDougle was called for three pass-interference penalties. Two of them came in the first quarter, when Maryland had many of its problems.The Terrapins turned the ball over three times in the first quarter, when the Tribe took a 6-0 lead on two Drake Kuhn field goals.Maryland missed a short field goal in the second quarter and left the field at halftime to loud boos from the Byrd Stadium crowd.Hills threw an interception on Maryland's second play of the game. DeAndre Houston-Carson picked if off to give the Tribe possession at the Terrapins' 34-yard line.The Maryland defense held and Kuhn kicked a 30-yard field goal for an early 3-0 lead. Later in the quarter, Brian Thompson intercepted Hills as he was being hit and returned the ball 32 yards to the Maryland 9-yard line.The Terrapins held again, and Kuhn's 22-yard field goal gave William & Mary a 6-0 lead with 2:56 left in the quarter.Maryland turned the ball over a third time in the first quarter when Albert Reid fumbled on a run. The Tribe started driving but got a bad break when quarterback Brent Caprio's pass was bobbled by Keith McBride and grabbed by defensive end Joe Vellano at the Maryland 22.Hills then directed Maryland's best drive of the first half midway through the second quarter. He moved the Terrapins 63 yards in 12 plays to a third-and-6 at the William & Mary 7, but missed a wide-open Devonte Campbell in the back of the end zone.Craddock came on but missed a 25-yard field goal wide left.
College football fans have learned to expect the unexpected. The unpredictability of the sport is exactly why we love it. So, when looking at the first two years of the College Football Playoff, you can't help but feel like something is missing.
The playoff has been a bit too...clean.
Sure, there was the mini controversy of Ohio State jumping ahead of TCU in the final rankings in 2014, but everyone outside the state of Texas understood why that happened. While TCU and Baylor were getting participation trophies for being co-champs of the Big 12, the Buckeyes were rolling over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Other than that, the playoff has worked exceptionally well with little question as to who the top four teams in the nation have been the past two seasons. That cannot possibly continue.
The BCS system seemed to work well when it first began too, but then every nightmare scenario possible in a foolishly restrictive two-team system began to play out annually.
So what are the nightmare scenarios for the College Football Playoff? A non-power conference team or Notre Dame could go undefeated, a two-loss team could win its conference, an undefeated team could loss in the conference championship game, two teams in the same conference could establish themselves as the top teams in the nation. A team with an easy strength of schedule could finish the season as the only undefeated team, and those are just the ones we know about. There could be all sorts of whacky scenarios no one has even thought of that play out over the course of the season.
While a four-team playoff is certainly better than a two-team one, it is still restrictive to a point that could cause some real problems come December. So far, that hasn't happened.
College football is due for some chaos.
Notes and observations from the Nats' 3-2 win over the Phillies on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park…
Scherzer again flirts with a no-no: It's a stat that just keeps getting more amazing the more we watch Max Scherzer go to work as a Washington National. Tuesday night was the ninth time in 61 starts since he signed with the Nats that Scherzer has taken a no-hitter into the sixth inning. That's 15 percent of his starts, which - not surprisingly - is more than any other pitcher in baseball. Scherzer is so locked in when he takes the mound that it often takes opposing teams five full innings to figure him out.
Scherzer was perfect through 4 1/3 innings on Tuesday before Cameron Rupp drew a walk in the fifth. And he didn't allow a hit until Freddy Galvis doubled to begin the bottom of the sixth. Scherzer ended up allowing a two-run homer to Ryan Howard, but he made it eight innings and only gave up three hits and that one walk to Rupp. Scherzer struck out 11 batters and now holds a Nationals record for most double-digit strikeout games in one season with 12.
Scherzer stumbled a bit in consecutive starts in the middle of August when he gave up eight earned runs in 10 1/3 innings against the Rockies and Braves. But in two outings since, Scherzer has allowed just two runs across 16 innings with 21 strikeouts and one walk. He now holds a 2.89 ERA across 190 total innings pitched this season. And since his seven-run start at Wrigley on May 6, Scherzer has a 2.39 ERA in 21 starts with a .531 opponents' OPS.
Turner does his thing: It has become a common sight for Trea Turner to not just get on base in every game, but often to record at least two hits. He had two singles on Tuesday to record his 21st multi-hit game of the year in 43 total outings, 41 of them starts. If Turner is in the starting lineup, he is more likely than not to have at least two hits. And with 45 hits in August, he's just two away from the franchise record for hits in one calendar month. The odds he gets there on Wednesday night would seem to be good.
Turner has now reached base in 20 straight games. Only one other Nats rookie - Danny Espinosa - has accomplished that in team history. But it's not just getting on base that makes Turner special, of course. He got another steal in the 3-2 win and now has 18 on the year. That tied Bryce Harper's rookie record for a single season set back in 2012. Again, Turner has played in just 43 games.
Espinosa getting hot?: Don't look now, but Espinosa might be quietly heating up. The Nats shortstop had another solid game on Tuesday with two hits and a walk. He's now batting .355 (11-for-31) in his last nine games with a 1.009 OPS during that stretch. It's a small sample size, of course, but that's a positive sign for a guy who in 45 games since July 6 has hit just .191/.294/.268. This is quite easily the most consistent two-week stretch that he's had in months.
Harper gets on again: It's now 17 games since Harper has been back and he just keeps getting on base. He's reached in all of those outings and on Tuesday landed an RBI double in the first inning and later scored on a Wilson Ramos single. Harper continues to be on a tear since he got back from his neck injury. That was his 18th RBI and his seventh double since his return.
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As the Ravens face the painful task of whittling the roster to the 53-man limit by Saturday afternoon, Anthony Levine's versatility is a huge bonus.
Levine, a safety by trade, has spent a lot of time this training camp working as a linebacker, or more accurately a dime back, lining up in a linebacker spot in passing situations. And, as he showed in 2014, he can also play cornerback in a pinch. He's also one of the Ravens top special teams players. In short, he essentially fills two or three roster spots by himself.
That will come in very handy when Ozzie Newsome and Co. are trying to fill out the final two or three lines on the 53-man roster. The Ravens might be able to keep an extra receiver or an extra lineman knowing they essentially have an extra safety and an extra corner and an extra linebacker in Levine.
"It's valuable, a trick of the trade, but I just go out and play football wherever my coaches need me to go," Levine said last week. " 'Anthony, we need you to play here this week.' 'Yes sir.' "
Levine has been one of the Ravens top playmakers this preseason -- his two-point interception return of a two-point conversion attempt proved to be the deciding points in the Ravens' 19-18 win over the Colts in Week 2. He had a leaping interception and a sack in the win over Detroit this past week.
Those kind of plays, and his work as one of the Ravens top special teamers for three years running, will certainly land Levine on the 53-man roster on Saturday.
But as someone who went undrafted out of Tennessee State, then was twice cut by the Packers, and spent most of his six previous training camps on NFL roster bubbles, Levine takes nothing for granted.
"I have been the guy that has been on the bubble my whole career," Levine said earlier this week. "Every year I come in, I have to make the team. This year, I have to come in and make the team. I’m not sitting up here like, ‘Oh, I made the 53-man roster.’ I still have to prove myself every year.
"It is not about what you did last year; it is about what you are going to do this year. Every year, you have to come out and show them that you still have it.”
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