Who: Maryland (6-5, 2-5 ACC) vs. North Carolina State (3-8, 0-7)
When: 12:30 p.m.
Where: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, N.C.
TV: WTTG-5 (Tim Brant, play by play; Dave Archer, color; Rachel Baribeau, sideline)
DMV radio: WTEM (980 AM), WJZ (105.7 FM).
Satellite radio: Sirius channel 92, XM channel 190.
Coaches: Terps – Randy Edsall (third season, 12-23). Wolfpack: Dave Doeren (first season, 3-8).
Series: 70th meeting (North Carolina State leads, 33-32-4).
An era formally ends Saturday as the Maryland football team embarks upon its final ACC road trip for its final ACC game, but this narrative has barely registered. It seems hardly sentimental right now, especially to be finishing in Raleigh against North Carolina State, but the Terrapins have bigger goals at hand. Sure, they can bid the conference they have inhabited since 1953 a fond farewell with a victory, but with the conference’s bowl situation currently log-jammed, Maryland could use a seventh win to improve its standing for the Military Bowl in Annapolis, the AdvoCare v100 Bowl in Shreveport, La., or whatever wild-card bowl may spring up from unfilled spots in other leagues. An up-and-down regular season, filled with all manner of injuries, jubilant victories, more injuries and one dejecting loss on a botched timeout, ends at Carter-Finley Stadium against a listless Wolfpack team still searching for its first ACC win. Maybe North Carolina State will show some fight in its season finale, but the Terps need to bounce back from that dispiriting Boston College loss to avoid limping into December and what lies beyond.
1) Once more, with feeling? Does leaving the ACC matter to the players? It certainly does to the diehard fans who grew up cheering for rivalry games and rooting against Maryland’s most hated league brethren. But how much will the final swan song in the season of goodbye symphonies reasonably affect the Terps on Saturday?
“Again, we hadn’t put much on it other than to focus on ourselves and try to do the best we can and worry about those sort of things,” Coach Randy Edsall said. “The best way you can always take care of those things is to go there and play well and take their crowd out of it so they can’t say anything.”
2) Get Brown back? It’s no secret. The Terps are best when quarterback C.J. Brown finds success on the ground. He matched a season high with 122 rushing yards against Virginia Tech, including the game-winning touchdown in overtime, then followed it up with a measly 22 yards on 12 carries vs. Boston College. By and large, it has been boom or bust with Brown this season; either he tops 100 yards or struggles to break 20. Against the ACC’s second-worst rush defense (180.8 yards per game), Brown should theoretically have little trouble getting going.
3) Win? This one’s pretty cut-and-dry. N.C. State is not a good football team, with seven straight losses dating to Sept. 28. Like Maryland, the Wolfpack has also lost at home to Syracuse and Clemson, and at Wake Forest and Florida State. The Terps are favored by almost a field goal, and have endured their own share of struggles this season. Bowl eligibility has been secured, but to avoid the nervous speculation sure to follow with a defeat, Maryland needs to close strong in its regular season finale.
225: Passing yards needed for Maryland to top 3,000 for the first time since 1994. The program record is 3,823 in 1993.
7: Defensive extra points scored in ACC history, a total added to by Maryland’s Anthony Nixon last week, off a blocked PAT by Marcus Whitfield.
81: Kicker Brad Craddock’s field goal conversation rate this season, fourth best in program history.
“Of course everybody was disappointed because we had an 11-point lead with 10:42 to go in the game, and we didn’t finish the job that we wanted to finish, so what you do is you show them and explain to them here’s part of the reason why we didn’t come out on top, because of these issues, and if we could have been more consistent throughout the game, things could have been different.” – Edsall on Maryland’s loss Boston College.
“It’s tough not to look at the league. We try not to fall into that. Really we just got to get this one and hopefully the rest will take care of itself. Really we can only worry about this one at this point. It’s literally a one-game season.” – center Sal Conaboy.
THE (SWAN) SONG OF SATURDAY
“So Long, Farewell” by The Vandals