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When one thinks of high-profile college football programs, UCLA and Maryland probably aren’t the two names that come to mind.

On this day 65 years ago, the two played one of the biggest games of the season. The contest in College Park featured just a single score, but it belonged to Maryland in a 7-0 victory.

Setting the Stage

National champions in 1953, Maryland overcame a 2-2-1 start in 1954 to win its final five games and finish in the top 10. That early-season slump included a 31-21 loss to UCLA in Los Angeles. After a hard-fought 13-12 win over Missouri to open the 1955 season, the Terrapins arrived for their home opener on Sept. 24, 1955 ranked No. 5 in the country.

No. 1 UCLA had finished 9-0 the year prior and shared the national championship with Ohio State. The Bruins blanked Texas A&M 21-0 at home to open the 1955 season.

The Contest

The football game was dominated by defense. The teams combined for only 18 first downs and only 273 yards of offense.

UCLA’s best opportunity to score came early. It looked as though the Bruins would draw first blood, but fullback Doug Peterson fumbled on his way to the end zone in the first half. Maryland recovered and the contest went to the break scoreless.

Midway through the third quarter, Maryland would mount its only significant drive. After a nice run by Ed Vereb and a pair of receptions from quarterback Frank Tamburello, the Terrapins found themselves well into UCLA.

Facing a 4th-and-inches from the UCLA 17-yard-line later in the drive, head coach Jim Tatum elected to keep his offense on the field. It paid off.

Needing just a foot for a first down, Vereb had his number called on a sweep play and went 17 yards for the touchdown. That would serve as the game’s lone score.

UCLA dominated the first half, but was unable to finish three drives that reached Maryland territory. The Bruins managed just eight first down and 79 yards of offense. UCLA was held to negative-21 yards rushing.

In Hindsight

UCLA would bounce back to run the table during the regular season and claim a third straight Pacific Coast Conference title. The Bruins would fall to Michigan State in the Rose Bowl to close the year.

The victory paved the way to a third perfect regular season in five years for Maryland. Maryland was ranked as high as No. 2 in the polls, but ultimately lost to No. 1 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.

Still, the Terrapins finished No. 3 in the final polls. Their victory over No. 1 UCLA to end the national champions’ 10-game winning streak came on this day 65 years ago.


AP Story/Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.