If being back at Michigan Stadium on Saturday brought back some pleasant memories for first-year Maryland coach DJ Durkin from the season he spent there as Jim Harbaugh's defensive coordinator in 2015, the game against the third-ranked Wolverines obliterated them.
Some new and painful ones were created in the course of an embarrassing, though not totally surprising, 59-3 defeat before a crowd of 110,626. They provided a stark reminder of how far Michigan has come in less than two seasons under Harbaugh, and how far the Terps still have to go under Durkin.
Led by junior quarterback Wilton Speight and senior running back De'Veon Smith, Michigan (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) scored touchdowns on all five of its first-half possessions en route to a 35-0 lead, and was stopped just once in the second half, on downs, by Maryland (5-4, 2-4).
Speight completed 19 of 24 passes for a career-high 362 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for his first career touchdown. Smith rushed 19 times for 114 yards and three touchdowns. Fifth-year senior wide receiver Jehu Chesson caught five passes for 112 yards and a touchdown.
After giving up 650 yards to Indiana in last week's 42-36 road loss, the Terps surrendered 660 to the Wolverines. Meanwhile, the nation's top-ranked defense held Maryland to 78 rushing yards on 38 carries, led by 58 from freshman Lorenzo Harrison. It left the normally upbeat Durkin seemingly more downtrodden than he had been after any of the previous three defeats in the past month.
Asked how it felt to lose in such a manner, Durkin chuckled sardonically and said, "How is it? Getting kicked in the gut over and over again, I don't know. It's bad. It's disheartening that we did not compete more. I think we're a better team than what we played.
"That's taking nothing away from them. I think they're an outstanding football team. But I don't think our guys competed the right way, I really don't. It's hard for me to say that or acknowledge that. It really is, to be truthful."
Junior linebacker Shane Cockerille (Gilman), who called last week's defeat in Bloomington, Ind., one of the more difficult in his career, didn't seem as upset about Saturday. That was perhaps because it would have been the biggest upset of the college football season had the Terps actually won, considering they went in as four-touchdown underdogs.
"I feel like there were some opportunities as a team that we left out there on the field," Cockerille said. "I feel like we still have guys that have a lot of confidence. I feel like the biggest part for us is everyone playing together. Sometimes we might not have had that today."
While it likely didn't affect the game's outcome, Maryland's best chance to make the game competitive disappeared early in the second quarter. Trailing 14-0, the Terps drove from their own 25 to the Michigan 1 before going backward.
A motion penalty, two running plays that resulted in losses and a 29-yard field goal attempt by junior Adam Greene (Broadneck) that ricocheted off the right upright left Maryland scoreless until Greene hit a 37-yard attempt after the Wolverines had built their lead to 45-0.
Asked if that failed drive summed up Maryland's offensive struggles and caused the Terps to take a hit on what appears to be a collectively fragile psyche, Durkin said, "It's probably fair to say it did. It shouldn't, but we are. We're a fragile team. It probably did.
"We certainly should have put the ball in the end zone there, and didn't get it done. We didn't have the correct response to it either. There's a lot of things to do to grow up as a program. We'll keep putting those things out and working on it and getting better. That's all we can do."
The loss came two years after Maryland beat Michigan, 23-16, at "The Big House" after going into the fourth quarter trailing 16-9. After the Wolverines closed out coach Brady Hoke's tenure by losing to arch-rival Ohio State to finish 5-7, Harbaugh was hired.
It also came a year after Michigan shut out the Terps, 28-0, in College Park. The following week, after a loss to Ohio State in Columbus, Randy Edsall was fired as Maryland's coach, leading to the eventual hiring of Durkin in December.
"I don't know how you measure where programs are," Durkin said Saturday. "Obviously credit to those guys; they were well prepared, they're well-coached, they're very talented. They outplayed us in every facet of the game."
Asked how good the Wolverines are compared with last year, Durkin said, "They're very good. They're one of the top teams in the country. That's probably pretty clear. They deserve the recognition they're getting and they have every opportunity to win it all."
Meanwhile, the Terps have hit their lowest point since starting 4-0 under Durkin. Not only are they fragile mentally, they are increasingly being battered by injury after losing starting quarterback Perry Hills in the second quarter and leading rusher Ty Johnson in the third against Michigan.
Hills was injured after being landed on by 6-foot-3, 245-pound defensive end Chase Winovich after a 19-yard completion to sophomore wide receiver D.J. Moore late in the first half. Johnson got hurt on a 3-yard gain early in the second half.
"They're obviously getting looked at right now," Durkin said. "They'll be evaluated here as we go."
Given that Hills has battled shoulder problems on his throwing arm for most of the season — forcing him out late in the first half in a loss at Penn State and causing him to sit out a home defeat to Minnesota the following week — his status for the game against the Buckeyes is up in the air.
Rather than turn to true freshman Tyrrell Pigrome, as he did when Hills was hurt earlier this season, Durkin replaced Hills with fellow fifth-year senior Caleb Rowe, who had spent most of the season getting on the field only as the team's holder on field goals and extra points.
Rowe completed 12 of 23 passes for 203 yards. While he made some pretty good throws, Rowe also showed one of the reasons Durkin picked Hills as his starter before the season began. As he did last season, when he threw 15 interceptions, Rowe had two passes picked off by senior safety Delano Hill on Saturday.
"I just felt like he gave us the best chance for what the game plan was," Durkin said. "Caleb, obviously, a couple of times he put the ball in harm's way, which we've got to work through and get over, but I thought he did a good job of throwing the ball downfield and kept us moving."
While Durkin described his feelings going into Michigan Stadium on Saturday as "business as usual," it was clearly upsetting to him the way things turned out. Trying to get the Terps to put this demolition behind them might be more difficult than other defeats this season as they get ready to play the Buckeyes.
"We're going to get back to work and figure out what to do with the next team and how to bounce back," Durkin said. "We've had some ups and downs for the season, but the good thing is, we've bounced back every time. I don't know if it's been as quick as we've liked, but we've bounced back. We'll do it again."