Friday's college football: No. 12 Penn State blows out Maryland

Associated Press
Penn State quarterback Will Levis (7) celebrates his touchdown during the second half on Friday.

College Park, Md. — Penn State did everything necessary to secure another easy victory over Maryland — passed efficiently, ran effectively and played relentless defense.

And, as usual, the Terrapins offered little resistance.

Sean Clifford threw for 398 yards and three touchdowns, ran for a score and carried No. 12 Penn State to a typically easy victory over Maryland, a 59-0 blowout Friday night that typified the one-sided nature of this regional series.

Penn State scored on its first four possessions, led 38-0 at halftime and finished with 619 yards in its Big Ten opener. After Jan Johnson got things started by ending Maryland’s first possession with an interception, Clifford cruised into the end zone from the 8 and the rout was on.

“Right from the start we didn’t give ourselves a chance, and for us, that was the disappointing part,” first-year coach Mike Locksley said.

After halftime, most of fans remaining from a rare sellout crowd of 53,228 at Maryland were the several thousand cheering for the Nittany Lions (4-0, 1-0).

“It was one of the more complete games that we have played in our six years, really in all three phases,” said coach James Franklin, a former Maryland assistant who took over at Penn State in 2014.

Clifford said, “I agree with that 100 percent. You win a lot of games when teams don’t score and we score a lot. That’s just down to basics. I’m really proud of how both sides executed today, special teams as well. It was a complete win.”

Because the Terrapins (2-2, 0-1) won their first two games at home by a combined 122 points and Penn State was coming off a tight 17-10 win over Pittsburgh, the Nittany Lions were favored by only a touchdown.

But past performances held true. Penn State leads the series 40-2-1, winning the previous three by scores of 38-14, 66-3, 38-3 before adding this romp — the Terrapins’ worst home shutout lost ever — to the list.

How can Maryland turn it around?

“Good teams don’t beat themselves,” Locksley said.

Maryland had three turnovers, was penalized nine times for 85 yards and tackled poorly.

Clifford threw a 58-yard touchdown pass to KJ Hamler for a 14-0 lead, connected with Nick Bowerson on a 15-yarder to make it 28-0 and hit Journey Brown for 37 yards for a 35-point cushion.

After making his 14-for-30 performance against Pittsburgh a distant memory, Clifford remained on the sideline with 5:45 left in the third quarter and Penn State up 45-0.

“I took that Pitt game very personal,” Clifford said. “I had a lot of issues that I saw on the tape. I knew that I needed to make some corrections to be where we want to be.”

Clifford, a redshirt sophomore, made his fourth start following the departure of standout Trace McSorley (now with the Ravens). Perhaps the only flaw in his 26-for-31 gem was that he now has one interception to go with his 11 touchdown passes.

Maryland, meanwhile, has regressed terribly after winning its first two games under Locksley. The Terrapins were ranked No. 21 after beating then-No. 21 Syracuse on Sept. 7, but an ugly loss at Temple and this embarrassing defeat has left Locksley searching for answers.

Virginia Tech transfer Josh Jackson (Saline), who was so impressive during the first two weeks, has since struggled. His second pass of the night was picked off and he finished 10-for-21 for 65 yards and two interceptions.

The Terrapins garnered only 128 yards in offense. Until late in the fourth quarter, Clifford had more yards rushing (54) than the entire Maryland backfield.

More Top 25

Arizona State 24, (at) No. 15 California 17: Eno Benjamin scored his third touchdown of the game on a 3-yard run with 4:41 remaining, and Arizona State earned its second road win of the season against a ranked team.

The Sun Devils (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) bounced back from a 34-31 loss to Colorado in the conference opener last week thanks to a strong performance by Benjamin and the defense.

Benjamin had 29 carries for 100 yards, also scoring on an 11-yard run in the first quarter and a 4-yarder in the third quarter.

Jayden Daniels added 174 yards passing and 84 more on the ground on an injured ankle as Arizona State picked up another road win against a ranked team after topping Michigan State 10-7 two weeks ago.

The Golden Bears (4-1, 1-1) lost their perfect record and quarterback Chase Garbers to a right shoulder injury, spoiling their highest ranking in a decade. The loss also left the Pac-12 with no undefeated teams before the end of September.

Save the date

Florida and Utah have agreed to play a home-and-home series beginning in 2022.

The Utes will make the trip to Gainesville to start the series, and Florida will travel to Utah the following year.

It’s the latest step in Florida’s quest to improve its non-conference schedules.

The Gators are playing two teams from the Football Championship Subdivision this fall, and their 2020 schedule includes visits from Eastern Washington, South Alabama and New Mexico State.

But athletic director Scott Stricklin has taken a more aggressive approach to future schedules, signing contracts in the past 15 months to face South Florida (2022, ‘23, ‘25), Miami (2024-25), Colorado (2028-29) and Texas (2030-31).

Florida and Utah played once previously: the Gators won 38-29 in Gainesville in 1977.