JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The rematch turned out to be a replay.
Scott McBrien threw for a career-high 381 yards to help No. 23 Maryland to a 41-7 victory over No. 20 West Virginia in the Gator Bowl on Thursday, a rematch of a regular-season game that was almost as lopsided.
Playing against the team he left in 2001, McBrien threw for three scores and ran for another. His teammate, Steve Suter, returned a punt for a touchdown and made a highlight-reel catch to help the once-downtrodden Terrapins (10-3) reach 10 wins for the third straight year under coach Ralph Friedgen, aka ''The Fridge.''
Only Texas, Oklahoma, Miami and Washington State can boast a similar three-year stretch.
''How long has it been since Maryland has been mentioned in the same breath with those teams?'' Friedgen said. ''That's how far we've come.''
They've done it thanks in part to West Virginia. Counting the 34-7 win in the regular season, the Terps have defeated the Mountaineers four times over the last three years by an average score of 35-13.
That these teams were playing a rematch of a lopsided game may have seemed strange to some. But that's one of the quirks of the bowl system, and thus, a sellout crowd of 78,892 got a less-than-scintillating game.
Friedgen downplayed the dominance.
''The biggest thing is, we got ahead fast. That's it,'' he said.
The Mountaineers, co-champs of the Big East, came in on a seven-game winning streak, trying to establish themselves as the team to beat next year in their revamped conference minus Miami and Virginia Tech.
Instead, they reinforced their remarkable penchant for flopping in bowl games. West Virginia is 1-10 in its last 11 bowl appearances, 0-2 during Rich Rodriguez' tenure by a combined score of 89-29.
''Our preparation was probably no different than Maryland's or anyone else's,'' Rodriguez said. ''We were focused. Our intensity in practice was good. We were excited about playing. We just didn't play well. Maryland's a better team.''
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