Why bowls will pick NC State over Maryland

Over the last few years, I am very proud of how accurate and insightful SFN’s bowl selection analyses and scoop have been.  You may have noticed that SFN has not participated in bowl conjecture and speculation this year.   Part of the reason for our absence this year is that our author team has been severely depressed and unmotivated this week after State’s loss at Maryland (football) last Saturday and beat-down at Wisconsin (basketball) on Wednesday.  The other reason is that we’re pretty confident in the way year’s bowl situation will unfold for the Wolfpack – since last Saturday night, the only real risk to the Wolfpack playing in the Champs Bowl in Orlando on December 28th lies in the Champs choosing Miami over the Wolfpack to pair with Notre Dame. 

As this week has evolved, no developments have unfolded to change my view on this.  Even though rumors have started to leak over the last couple of days that the Champs and NC State are a done deal after a mid-week presentation made by NC State, I still don’t remain 100% confident the Champs doesn’t pull a ‘Miami surprise’ until I see it.  Of course, anything can change at the last minute; so, we’ll see later today.

Regardless of where the Wolfpack ultimately plays, a bowl will be choosing from a subset of NC State and Maryland; and the drive-by, ‘level one thinking’ media around Washington, DC has numbed my mind with the manner in which they have framed the comparison between State and Maryland.

The media has reported and positioned the Champs’ choice as a clear decision of dollars as represented by NC State’s traveling fan base vs performance as (supposedly) evidenced by Maryland. 

Don’t believe me?  Take for instance this article from the Washington Post

Maryland (8-4) has the advantage on the field, having beaten N.C. State 38-31 in the regular season finale. The Terrapins are a team on the rise, seemingly improving each week, win or lose, and feature standouts in QB Danny O’Brien and WR Torrey Smith

and  this article from SBNation * Washington DC.

The big issue for the Champs Sports Bowl is whether they will get a good turnout at the game. Maryland may have had a compelling season, but their fanbase is very clearly smaller than N.C. State’s, much less the other top ACC schools. If the Champs Sports Bowl elects to go with fan support over on-field play, then they will select N.C. State.

Well, they have part of it right.  There is, of course, no comparison between the fan support and overall interest between NC State and Maryland.  This entry is all you need to know about the ‘fan’ piece of the equation.

But, we need to go back to the premise that -  “Maryland has the advantage on the field” although both schools finished the season exact same 8-4 / 5-3 record as NC State.  (This is why people are confused and Maryland people have a false hope for the Champs Bowl.)

I guess I an understand the ‘level one’ thought that goes into to the media’s ‘deep’ analysis of looking at the head to head performance of a SINGLE GAME (played in College Park) with a controversial ending and proclaiming that Maryland has the edge in performance.  I don’t know about you, but I seem to remember watching ELEVEN other football games that took place on various Thursday nights and Saturdays in the fall of 2010?!  Heck, I *think* I even paid hundreds of dollars and personally attended a lot of these games that evidently don’t matter at all to the ‘intellectual’ Washington media.

Forgive me for being a stickler for silly things like reality…and facts…but, let’s take a quick look at a few items that paint the accurate picture about the 2010 SEASON as opposed to a single week of football.  During the TWELVE GAME 2010 SEASON, the Wolfpack and the Terrapins finished with identical records against schedules with vastly different levels of difficulty.  We start crafting the specifics in this entry that you should review.  In summary:

  • NC State played NINE teams that are currently bowl eligible, including both participants in the ACC Championship Game. 
  • Maryland played SEVEN bowl eligible teams and only one participant in the ACC Championship Game.


  • NC State played teams that finished #1; #3 (tie); and #3 (tie) in the Coastal Division to put together our record.
  • Maryland played teams that finished #2; last (tie); and last (tie) in the Coastal Division to put together their record.


  • NC State played 1 OOC cupcake in Western Carolina to get to 8 wins.
  • Maryland played 2 OOC cupcakes in Morgan State & Florida International to get to 8 wins.


  • Even WITH Maryland’s head to head victory, the  well respected Sagarin  computer rankings indicate a significant difference in the performance the two teams’ OVERALL seasons — NC State #31; Maryland #42.
  • In fact, a quick analysis of 132 different ranking & ratings indicate that NC State is ranked ahead of Maryland in 121 of 132 different rating systems. 


After one short sighted writer decides to proclaim that ‘Maryland has the advantage on the field’ by taking into account 8.5% of a season and nobody challenges the conclusion.  That is why we exist.   I know I am just a simple old boy from North Carolina, but can someone please figure out an intellectual way to explain to me how Maryland had a better season than NC State when the programs crafted identical records against obviously disparate schedules and 121 of 132 different ranking services/metrics indicate that NC State had a better season than Maryland?  Tell me again how it responsible or accurate to can sweepingly declare Maryland has the ‘advantage on the field’?


Note: Various members of the SFN author  team contributed to this entry.

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21 Responses to Why bowls will pick NC State over Maryland

  1. ADVENTUROO 12/05/2010 at 8:46 AM #

    NCSU v. WVU…..at least that is what all the experts say….we will see

  2. Plz2BStateFan 12/05/2010 at 9:26 AM #

    Would rather not play someone in the Big East.

    Notre Dame please

  3. Master 12/05/2010 at 9:35 AM #

    If we have to play Big East, WVU is the best name on the board.

  4. wvillepack 12/05/2010 at 9:52 AM #

    Please let us get matched up with a run first team. Watching another QB torch us for over 400 yds will be no fun to watch. Or at least let our DB’s learn to turn their heads around and play the ball once in a while….GO PACK! I already have my bags packed!

  5. choppack1 12/05/2010 at 10:19 AM #

    You’ll have to excuse most of these media types for the lack of detailed analysis. The typical liberal arts education doesn’t really prepare the graduate much for these endeavors…and if you’ve worked for a TV station, radio station or newspaper – you probably never had to develop it either.

    UMd certainly played better than us 2 Saturday’s ago and was the better team on that day. However, as my look at common opponents showed – we did better against the same comptetion, and we faced tougher coastal opponents.

    The only thing I’d say that is in UMd’s favor is that their fans may see them “on the upswing”. And UMd does have a pretty substantial die-hard fan base. OTOH, many NC State fans are still stinging from the letdown and blown call vs. UMd so I’m not sure if the traveling contingent will be as good for this Rolando bowl game as it was last time around…And if you really want to get mad at good Ole Swoffy – realize that 3rd Bowl game choice before his stellar negotiating skills and excellent business acumen was the Peach Bowl.

  6. PackHowler 12/05/2010 at 10:48 AM #

    Does anyone know what time the announcement is supposed to come out today? I’ve heard “nothing official until 8:30″ but can’t comprehend why it would take that long.

  7. redwolf87 12/05/2010 at 11:18 AM #

    The Champs is going to announce at their dinner tonight so it will be after the sun goes down. Would Debbie be invited if we are the selection? If she’s going to (or in) Orlando today that would be a good indication.

    This is an outstanding article. It needs to be sent to this guy:


    He is only a blogger with the Washington Post, but his entry is pretty embarrassing for him. It basically lays out a case of why UMd has the advantage over State for the bowls, although he admits no less than twice that he doesn’t know anything about NC State. I know it’s a homer piece, but it’s still moronic.

  8. chris92heel 12/05/2010 at 11:24 AM #

    A member of the champs/capital one committee posts on IC. While he doesn’t reveal who is/isnt in the game, he’s intimated very strongly that Miami aint happening.

  9. packalum44 12/05/2010 at 12:51 PM #

    Notre Dame and State make the most sense. You need pair a “name” team to attract television viewers and a traveling team to boost the local economy. This matchup gives you viewers and 2 traveling teams.

  10. PackHowler 12/05/2010 at 1:13 PM #

    Maybe it’s my youth speaking, but I fail to see what’s so attractive about Notre Dame. I understand they were good in the past, but have been nothing special recently. WVU has finished the last five seasons in the Top-25, including three back-to-back-to-back 11 win seasons. They definitely have an avid fanbase that would travel and I would definitely consider a “name” among college football fans.

    I’d rather us play West Virginia than Notre Dame. Beating ND doesn’t earn you any respect any more.

  11. Lunatic Fringe 12/05/2010 at 1:27 PM #

    I appreciate the analysis and I understand why you want to set the record straight when it comes to this year’s overall performance. There is no guarantee based on the evidence to date that Maryland will be any better of a game than NC State. Period!

    I do have to ask two rhetorical questions to the “media” vying for Maryland via Notre Dame is a good idea.

    1) Why do they think Maryland v. Notre Dame is more interesting than NC State v. Notre Dame?

    They are scheduled to play next year at Fed Ex field and that will be only the 2nd time they have ever played one another per the article earlier this year.

    The fact alone they have never really played lets you know there are more story lines for ND v NC State and that does not even include: TOB v ND (when at BC), Tenuta now at NCSU (was at ND last year), Holtz, and 2003 beat down in Gator Bowl.

    2) Honestly, when will the “media” just accept the fact that bowls are money-driven exhibitions and bodies in seats is REALLY what matters.

    From article: “As one bowl executive told me, given Notre Dame’s fan base and brand name, its opponent is less important, meaning Maryland’s attendance concerns would be diminished if Notre Dame is the opponent.”

    Bulls***! The last time Notre Dame v. NC State played we sold out the Gator Bowl in 2003. The tickets were gone by December 13 for a January 1st game. Our crazy fans may be a bit bi-polar at times, but we are loyal and that’s what I love about them.

  12. tjfoose1 12/05/2010 at 1:51 PM #

    “If the Champs Sports Bowl elects to go with fan support over on-field play, then they will select N.C. State.”

    Statefans – appreciate the article, and not saying that I disagree with the logic and conclusion, however…

    As much as I hate Maryland, I don’t think one can rightfully argue with the thinking outlined in the above quote. The premise of that blog entry is cleary stated by:

    “Eric Prisbell of the Washington Post is reporting that the Terrapins are currently competing for a spot in the Champs Sports Bowl with N.C. State.”

    Thus, it is clear. In a heads-up competition (just as it was last week), selecting us over Maryland would be selecting fan support over on the field play.

    Going into the game, Maryland had one match up advantage over us, Torrey Smith vs our pass defense. They exploited it to the hilt. Coaching and the ability to exploit match ups is part of what determines how good/bad a team is…

    Massaging the facts to somehow say we are a better team than Maryland (regardless of what I may personally think), reeks of the kind of thinking that comes out of Chapel Hill.

    Plain and simple, Maryland beat us.

    We’re entitled to our opinions, but IMO, arguing that we are still better than a team that just beat us while smacking us around for the better part of 3 quarters does our fan base no favors.

    Props to Maryland and their Weebles wobble coach. They performed while we watched yet another opportunity slip through our fingers, literally.

  13. tjfoose1 12/05/2010 at 2:04 PM #

    “Maybe it’s my youth speaking, but I fail to see what’s so attractive about Notre Dame.”

    On the field, not much. But this is bowl season. Notre Dame is a double dip that brings a national tv audience. Fans in the seats AND TV ratings.

    That’s good for the bowl folks for obvious reasons, but it’s also good for their opponent, as the national media can’t cover Notre Dame without covering their opponent.

    With our options, Notre Dame is gonna give us our greatest amount of exposure. Our performance on the field will determine if that would be a good thing.

  14. eas 12/05/2010 at 2:42 PM #

    ^ I agree that ND is a better pick for exposure. WVU is a better team, great fan base, travels well and is more deserving than ND. However, ND still gets more national media exposure (espn still slobers over them and so do major networks). For this reason ND is a better pick for the success of NCSU. WVU is still a stronger team though.

    It is just like UNC basketball for a comparison. What other team could drop 2 in a row and still be ranked. UNC could be the worst division one bb team and still receive red carpet treatment by the networks. ND gets the same respect and treatment. A win against ND would ” seem” better, thus potentially having a better recruiting/exposure impact.

    That’s just the way it is. More people will talk & write about a game ND is involved in. I don’t think it is fair either but the media is the media.

  15. wolfonthehill 12/05/2010 at 2:45 PM #

    tj – With all due respect, it’s a season, not a playoff. The body of work that State put together, by most objective measures, is stronger than the body of work that UMd put together. The head-to-head result is a factor, but not THE factor.

    When most objective measures say that State is the better team, that’s not homerism or unc-ch-like thinking. It’s rational, fact-based reasoning.

    And sounds like it’s going to be us, so it’s all a moot point. :)


  16. VaWolf82 12/05/2010 at 2:58 PM #

    TJ, You need to separate your argument into two separate parts….Who is the best team? and who is the best team for a Bowl Committee to pick?

    The first question was settled on the field for me, BUT IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the second.

  17. Wulfpack 12/05/2010 at 3:21 PM #

    Maryland is the better team, yet we had the better overall year, and are the better draw.

  18. tjfoose1 12/05/2010 at 3:25 PM #

    “tj – With all due respect, it’s a season, not a playoff. The body of work that State put together, by most objective measures, is stronger than the body of work that UMd put together.”

    I agree. I believe that, I just don’t think it is appropriate to argue that Maryland is not the better team on the field. Maryland beat us on the field, and who’s to say that they wouldn’t have performed equally well with our schedule? I don’t think they would have, but we don’t know. That’s the problem with an 8 game ACC schedule with 12 teams.

    I wasn’t clear though, VaWolf clears it up for me:

    “TJ, You need to separate your argument into two separate parts….Who is the best team? and who is the best team for a Bowl Committee to pick?”

    There’s not question, IMO, that we are the best pick for the Bowl.

  19. 61Packer 12/05/2010 at 3:37 PM #

    The whole bowl mess is just that, one big mess. If we go to the Champs Bowl, it’ll mean we were picked over a team with an equal record who beat us, and the opponent will be Notre Dame, who lost to Michigan, Navy and Tulsa, and who hasn’t been relevant in decades.

    Virginia Tech is our league champ, but I’ll bet you most Tech fans would rather play LSU in Atlanta on New Year’s Eve than play UConn on January 3 in Miami.

    And speaking of BCS teams, they won’t include Michigan State, Boise State and Nevada, all 11-1, or LSU at 10-2.

    Since records and head-to-head don’t seem to mean much anymore, the Champs Bowl should choose Michigan instead of Maryland or State as Notre Dame’s opponent, and send State and UNC to Charlotte in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Both bowls would be sellouts due to fierce rivalries being renewed, and they would both be games with real meaning for their fans rather than for their corporate sponsors but nobody else.

  20. bTHEredterror 12/05/2010 at 4:24 PM #

    From a game perspective, I’d much rather play WVU than ND. But that may not happen. Bowls were set up to pair teams from different regions that don’t play each other regularly. They are a reward for teams who’ve had good seasons.

    But they are also a business. And business moves to a different set of concerns than sports. WVU is a better team than ND, and they actually travel better. But ND will net greater TV exposure, which affects ad revenue in the future when selling slots for the networks, and thus the contract the Champs will have with their TV partner. The same is true for State vs. Maryland. Though O’brien won the on field matchup against RW, RW is a name player. For now he is a bigger draw. For all his success, Fridge hasn’t been able to change UM as a draw. It’s not fair but its life.

    Having said all that, I still foresee a Miami-ND Champs matchup and us and WVU in Charlotte.

  21. kypackman 12/06/2010 at 12:03 PM #

    No offense, but I kind of agree with tjfoose. Alot of those points you make in the article sound like the stuff UNC fans say after we beat them.

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