COLLEGE PARK — It took all of 11 seconds.
That’s how much time elapsed while freshman Giles Jackson fielded the opening kickoff on Saturday, offered one juke, burst past the kicker’s diving grasp and into the end zone. If there was any doubt about whether the Michigan football team would take care of a hapless Maryland squad; any doubt the Wolverines could re-focus after last week’s big win; any doubt that there could be such a thing as an easy road win in the Big Ten — it was all squashed.
In 11 seconds.
“We always try to start the game off fast, and that was a great emphasis coming into this game on the road,” said senior quarterback Shea Patterson. “It was cool to see him take off and kind of set the tone for the game.”
Jackson set the tone and nailed the coffin in one fell swoop.
Michigan continued the final 3,049 seconds down the same path of inevitability, taking care of the Terrapins, 38-7, winning with as much ease as it has all year.
Despite the comfort of the scoreboard, the Wolverines’ offense sputtered out of the gate. A week after piling up 300-plus rushing yards and 45 points against Notre Dame, the offense mustered just 49 yards on its first three drives, with the lone score coming via field position that started in Terrapins territory.
But it didn’t take long for Michigan’s offense to get the gears turning again, aided by a fake punt in the middle of the second quarter, in which Michael Barrett scampered for 14 yards off a direct snap.
“We’ve practiced it now for several weeks,” said Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, of the decision to fake the punt. “I was waiting for a fourth-and-1, fourth-and-2 type of situation on our own side. And it was there, so we took advantage of the work that we had put in.”
From there it took all of three plays — a 51-yard bomb to junior receiver Nico Collins, an incomplete pass, then an eight-yard rush from freshman Zach Charbonnet — to extend the lead to 21-0 and firmly bury the Terrapins.
In reality, though, everything beyond the opening kickoff served as a glorified scrimmage.
Maryland’s offense offered brief glimpses of competence early, marching into the red zone twice, only to leave each time empty-handed. The first time, an interception from senior safety Josh Metellus halted the progress. The second came via a missed field goal. The Terrapins failed to score on offense — their lone points coming via a kick return touchdown deep into garbage time.
Junior Nick Eubanks capped off a 12-play, 60-yard drive in the third quarter with his second touchdown grab of the year. Junior running back Hassan Haskins found the same destiny mere minutes later. After its slow start, the offense still finished with 331 yards — a near even split between passing (176) and rushing (155).
“I thought Josh (Gattis) called a really good game today,” Harbaugh said. “It was a good mix of the running game. The downfield throws were there, the RPOs were there and we made some plays off of that. … I thought, keep building, keep improving, but I feel like it’s going in the ascending direction.”
The Wolverines will stride into a bye week now at its peak, having rattled off two wins by a combined 62 points. A limping Michigan State group now beckons, and this Michigan team — suddenly rife with confidence — tastes blood in the water.
“We thinking about Michigan State right now,” Metellus said. “We thinking about both of them (Michigan State and Ohio State) right now, honestly. That’s something, being a Michigan Man, you’re always thinking about.
“That game-planning starts later today.”