The Seminoles give up almost 400 yards as their dominance over Maryland ends.
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Florida State had struggled in previous weeks, but it always could rely on its stingy defense to preserve the victory.
Not on Saturday.
The Seminoles surrendered 387 yards in total offense to Maryland en route to a 20-17 defeat at Byrd Stadium.
FSU had given up just 94 points in its first seven games, with 65 coming from the opponent's offense. It also allowed its first offensive touchdown in 12 quarters when Terrapins quarterback Joel Statham plunged in from 1-yard out with 7:58 left in the first half. "We had a lot of missed tackles, a lot of missed assignments," said cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
"Maryland played a great game, and you have to tip your hat. But we had a lot of missed assignments."
To be fair, the Seminoles played well against the run, limiting Maryland to a mere 54 yards rushing.
But Statham was consistent, completing 21-of-40 for 333 yards and one touchdown. Statham's 333 yards were the most by a Maryland quarterback against FSU since 1995 when Scott Milanovich threw for 380.
Did the Terrapins do anything that surprised FSU?
"We expected them to play good, but they didn't show us anything we didn't expect," Cromartie said. "They made plays and we didn't."
FSU defensive tackle Travis Johnson agreed.
"Some of our plays weren't executed," he said. "We went out and tried to make plays and we made a few mistakes. We had time to make adjustments. We just didn't execute and get the job done."
Florida State executed in its past 14 games against Maryland. In those 14 wins, the FSU offense never scored fewer than 24 points. "They came out and made a lot of big plays, and by the time we needed to make big things happen, it was too late," defensive end Chauncey Davis said. "I don't exactly know what to pin it on. We saw them on film and they didn't surprise us with anything.
"We didn't do what we needed to do and they got the win. We'll go back to the film room and try to figure it out for next week."
FSU coach Bobby Bowden has never had to figure out much about Maryland. He has a 14-0 lifetime record, including a stint at West Virginia.
"They made big plays," Bowden said. "We're supposed to be the big-play team."