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Maryland Terrapins crush Big Ten rival Illinois 63-33

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USA Today Sports

Maryland Terrapins crush Big Ten rival Illinois 63-33

Maryland opened up its passing game and fortified an already formidable running attack with seldom-used Javon Leake.

The result was a feel-good 63-33 rout over Illinois, one that was definitely worth singing about well into Saturday night.

"The locker room, we're in there singing that (Maryland fight) song, those guys are excited," interim coach Matt Canada said. "We found a way to win. We played good on offense, good on defense, good on special teams."

Leake rushed for three touchdowns and scored on a 97-yard kickoff return , Kasim Hill had the best passing game of his career and Maryland held the Fighting Illini without a touchdown until late in the third quarter.

Leake is the first Maryland player to score four TDs in a game since D.J. Adams in the 2010 Military Bowl. Leake, a sophomore, finished with 140 yards rushing, including scores of 64, 27 and 43 yards.

"The offensive line did a great job today," Leake said. "They just set me up to make plays."

Prior to Saturday, Leake had 16 career carries, just nine this season.

"He was not at the top of the list in the running back room as the season began," Canada said. "He continued to practice hard."

The victory left the Terrapins (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) one win short of becoming bowl eligible, no small feat for a team that was rocked by the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair and has been playing under Canada since August.

Despite of the uncertainty surrounding the program, Maryland has already exceeded its win total (4) from last year.

"The whole point of the story is, our guys have checked their egos and just want to win," Canada said. "We're sitting here 5-3 with a bunch of kids who are playing so hard for each other and care for each other."

Canada, the team's offensive coordinator, took over for DJ Durkin, who is on administrative leave during an investigation of the culture of the program.

The probe began soon after McNair collapsed on the practice field and died of heatstroke in June. The report is complete. Now, after the commission determined there are problems with the culture of the program, the school and the football team await the fallout.

Reggie Corbin ran for 155 yards and a touchdown for the Fighting Illini (3-5, 1-4). Illinois had yielded 158 points during a three-game skid, and its streak of forcing a turnover in 21 consecutive games came to an end.

"It's kind of beyond words the feelings we have right now," coach Lovie Smith said. "There's been some cracks that we've seen, but not like this. We knew what was at stake, just thought we would play a lot better. I thought our preparation was good, but as you can see it was not."

Starting quarterback M.J. Rivers was knocked from the game in the second quarter on a hit by Tre Watson, who was ejected for targeting. Rivers went 3 for 13 for 45 yards.

Leake's kickoff return and 64-yard run, along with two touchdown passes by Hill , provided Maryland with a 28-9 halftime lead. The Terrapins tacked on three touchdowns in the third quarter, including a 27-yard run by Leake and Hill's third touchdown pass.

Hill was removed from the game late in the third quarter with the score 49-19. He went 11 for 19 for a career-high 265 yards, and his three TD passes tied a career best.

Playing Illinois for the first time, Maryland set a school record for most points in a Big Ten game since joining the conference in 2014. The Terps finished with 712 yards in offense.

It was a redemptive performance for a team that mustered only 115 yards one week earlier in a 23-0 loss to Iowa.

WATSON DISQUALIFIED

Watson leads the Terps in tackles and is tied for the team lead in interceptions, but this is the second time he's been booted for targeting.

Watson played three seasons for Illinois before coming to Maryland this year.

JOHNSON OUT

Johnson, Maryland's leading rusher, missed the second half with a leg injury. He ranks fourth on the team career list with 2,597 yards.

THE TAKEAWAY

Illinois: The Illini have a bad defense, plain and simple, especially when unable to force turnovers.

"Big plays are really hurting us," Smith conceded.

Maryland: Well, for one game at least, the Terrapins proved they can pass as well as throw. That should be an asset in upcoming games against Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State.

UP NEXT

Illinois hosts Minnesota, which defeated Indiana 38-31 Saturday for its first Big Ten win of the season.

Maryland faces visiting Michigan State (5-3, 3-2), which defeated Purdue 23-13 on Saturday.

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4 ways to build an all-time Terps basketball lineup on a budget

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4 ways to build an all-time Terps basketball lineup on a budget

The offseason is time for fun activities that keep the competitive juices flowing.

In that spirit, our friends at Testudo Times have posed an interesting question about how to go about building a starting five of the best Maryland basketball players of all time, but on a budget.

With 25 players available, five for $5, five for $4, five for $3, five for $2 and five for $1 and a $15 budget, the task is to build the best starting five possible. It's a tall task, though one that can be completed in a number of different ways.

Before taking on the task yourself, some Terps alumni have some thoughts of their own.

There are a couple main themes here. First, this is an incredibly difficult task. Second, Len Bias is a must-include.

With that in mind there are a few ways to go about completing the lineup.

The best

Bias — $5
Juan Dixon — $5
Keith Booth — $1
Steve Francis — $3
Derrick Lewis — $1

This lineup can do just about anything. It can play fast or slow on offense and defense, it can shoot, rebound and play with toughness or finesse. Bias and Dixon are the superstars, Booth and Lewis are much better than their $1 label, and Francis can be the straw that stirs the drink.

The all-dunking lineup

Bias — $5
Steve Francis — $3
Dez Wells — $2
Bruno Fernando — $2
James Gist — $1

There's a mix of power dunkers and finesse dunkers on the squad with $2 left for an underrated dunker in Kevin Huerter.

The all-shooting lineup

Bias — $5
Dixon — $5
Huerter — $2
Lewis — $1
Fernando — $2

Everybody on this squad can score the rock. Huerter and Dixon are great 3-point shooters. Fernando is a near-60 percent shooter from the field. Bias is a staple on any and every team and Lewis was a good enough shooter during his junior and senior seasons to get the nod for the final spot.

The all-value lineup

Bias — $5
Booth — $1
Lewis — $1
Steve Blake — $5
Wilcox — $3

Bias is good value at any price and we've already talked about the value of Lewis and Booth. The lineup needs a point guard, and with a pair of $1 players, Blake makes the most sense, even as the most expensive option. Wilcox rounds out the team thanks to his versatility down low.

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Maryland gets great news as Anthony Cowan Jr. withdraws from NBA Draft to return for senior season

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Maryland gets great news as Anthony Cowan Jr. withdraws from NBA Draft to return for senior season

Anthony Cowan Jr. announced that he will return to Maryland basketball for his senior season after testing the NBA Draft waters.

Cowan, a local product out of St. John's College High School, has started every game at Maryland for the past three seasons. The point guard has led the Terps in scoring and assists the past two years, most recently helping the team to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. 

His return will be a huge boost to the Terrapins after big-man Bruno Fernando decided to forgo his eligibility for his final two seasons in College Park for the NBA Draft. Including Cowan, the team returns seven of its top eight scorers for the 2019-20 season and will be one of the more experienced squads in the nation.

With Cowan staying at Maryland, NBC Sports' Rob Dauster says that the Terps will be a potential top-five team entering the season.

His decision came hours before Wednesday's NBA draft withdrawal deadline. Earlier on the same day, he worked out for the Sacramento Kings, according to Baltimore Sun reporter Don Markus.

While Cowan has shown an impressive ability to lead his team in his three years, he was not a projected pick for the 2019 NBA draft. It's another year for the senior to display his ability, and lead a talented team to national prominence after he only scored 20 points in two NCAA Tournament games last year. 

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