As Wolfpack fans still savor the sweet victory over 7th ranked Clemson 37-13 on Saturday to end a 7 year losing streak to the Tigers, the team’s focus has now shifted onto the other arch nemesis, Maryland. Forget the crazy Under Armour uniforms. Forget that Ralph Friedgen is no longer coaching the Terrapins. Forget that Sweaty Gary Williams is no longer coaching…oops, wrong sport. Forget the bad losses against Cincinnati and Florida State. Forget doubling up Virgina, shutting out North Carolina, and dominating Clemson. All you need to be concerned about is the upcoming game. If State wins, the bowl game will be earned (probably either in Charlotte or Nashville). Lose, and a very interesting off-season starts.
There are four main reasons that the Wolfpack needs to beat Maryland.
- It’s Maryland.
- Becoming bowl eligible.
- 15 extra practices…almost another spring practice.
- Recruiting uptick. Better selling your program to recruits saying your program has gone to back to back bowl games.
Maryland has had NC State’s number recently. Let’s look at the last ten games.
2001 – Raleigh. Maryland 23-19. This game featured the beginning of what I consider my dislike of the Terrapins fanbase. This was Friedgen’s first year as head coach and a win would give them the conference title and a berth in the Orange Bowl. After a Shaun Hill 8 yard TD pass with 41 seconds left won the game for Maryland, their fans threw oranges all over the field. It was not a good night.
2002 – College Park. Maryland 24-21. After starting off 9-0 and then losing a heart breaker to Georgia Tech, the Pack traveled to Maryland for payback after what happened the previous year in Raleigh. And it looked for a while like it would happen. Alas, ahead 21-14 starting the 4th quarter, the Pack could not hold on and Nick Novak kicked a 27 yard field goal with 34 seconds left to win the game for the Terps.
2003 – Raleigh. Maryland 26-24. Rivers lost his 4th straight game to Maryland on senior day in Raleigh. Pregame he was given a honor by NC State retiring his jersey. State was up 24-10 in the 4th quarter but gave up the final 16 points of the game. After missing an extra point with 2:29 left, Maryland was down 1. But T.A. McLendon fumbled and Maryland drove for the winning points, a 43 yard field goal by Novak with 23 seconds left. Utter disaster of a game.
2004 – College Park. NC State 13-3. The Wolfpack dominated Maryland, limiting them to 91 yards of offense in winning against Maryland for the first time in 5 years. In what became the top-ranked defense in the NCAA, State held Maryland to 5 first downs and 24 yards passing. Two field goals by John Deraney and a one yard TD run by Reggie Davis accounted for the scoring.
2005 – Raleigh. NC State 20-14. This game would decide who would go bowling with both teams at 5-5. Down 7-3 at the half, the Wolfpack dominated the second half with touchdowns by Toney Baker and Marcus Hudson, Hudson’s being on a 28 yard interception return. Mario Williams lead the defense with 4 sacks.
2006 – College Park. Maryland 26-20. The Wolfpack couldn’t keep control of the ball and lost 26-20 in a game that wasn’t that close. With the help of multiple turnovers, Maryland jumped out to a 23-0 lead in the 2nd quarter. Despite a Darrell Blackman 65 yard punt return for a score to get the game closer, the Pack couldn’t catch up and lost.
2007 – Raleigh. Maryland 37-0. In a repeat of 2005, the winner of this game would go bowling. Unlike the previous matchup, this game was completely one-sided as the Terrapins became bowl eligible with a 37-0 drubbing of the Pack, and ending a span of 150 games in which the Wolfpack had not been shut out. This game will forever though be known for one call: Ron Cherry calling Kelani Heppe for a 15 yard penalty in the 4th quarter for “Giving him the Business.”
2008 – College Park. Maryland 27-24. This was a very close game up at Maryland. The game was tied at the end of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd quarters. The yards were very close, the turnovers were a wash, and the score was obviously close. The difference? A 20 yard field goal by Obi Egekeze with 6 seconds left gave Maryland a victory and dropped State to 2-6 and 0-4 in the ACC.
2009 – Raleigh. NC State 38-31. Russell Wilson threw for 3 touchdowns and ran for another as the Wolfpack notched its first conference win of the season. This was a bad Maryland team but it was a much needed win. Wilson passed for 343 yards in the victory. Even though State was favored to win, the win was not as convincing as expected.
2010 – College Park. Maryland 38-31. A victory by the Wolfpack and State would be on the way to Charlotte for the ACC title game. Up 14-0 early in the game, the Pack got scared and froze for the next 2 quarters. By then, it was 38-14 and the game was over. Or was it? State closed the gap to 38-31 and had a controversial and very generous spot on 4th down go against them and it allowed Maryland to run out the clock. This was the most disappointing loss of the last 10 years, even more than in 2003.
So that is the last 10 years. 3-7. This will be the third time a bowl game hangs in the balance. Will State show up like they did in the last 3 home games or will it be the team that played against Cincinnati, Florida State, and Boston College? Maryland has lost 6 straight games by double figures. Will the Wolfpack make it 7 in a row or will the Terps relish the opportunity to spoil the Wolfpack’s bowl game aspirations? All questions will be answered starting Saturday at 12:30 in Carter-Finley Stadium. Let’s pack that stadium and pull the boys through to a victory.