College Park, Md. – The University of Maryland had nothing to play for this evening – Eliminated from the ACC Atlantic race and already qualified for a bowl game – so it would be easy to think they would have fallen flat tonight. It looked, at first glance, as if that would happen as they spotted NC State a 14-point early lead. Coach Ralph Friedgen would not let it happen. Not to this team, a team he called “My favorite team in my time here”.
Maryland did not falter and scored 24 unanswered points in the second and third quarters. This run sparked the team to victory, and ultimately saved them as NC State mounted a valiant comeback late in the fourth quarter.
The night was highlight by two huge performances from QB Danny O’Brien and WR Torrey Smith. The two combined for 14 receptions for 224 yards and 4 Touchdowns. It was a record-setting performance by Smith and an encouraging performance for the future from O’Brien.
Smith’s record night included the following: The four receiving touchdowns were a new school record. The 14 receptions were second-most in school history. The 224 yards were the third most in school history. The four touchdowns also gave him 12 on the season, a new school record. Smith is also the second player ever to have over 1,000 yards receiving in a season.
O’Brien also came close to some school marks as well. The 417 yards passing were good for fourth on the schools all-time single game passing mark. The four touchdowns also put him at 21 now for the season, good for second all time in a season at Maryland.
The large passing totals did come at the expense of the running game. The Terps finished with -9 yards rushing for the game. Davin Meggett was the lone Maryland running back in the positive as far as yards with 11.
Maryland had to survive a late rally from the Wolfpack as it took a measurement on a fourth down call to finally seal the win for the Terps. Once Maryland had converted the fourth down with 48 seconds left they could just kneel and end the game. NC State scored two late touchdowns to cut the lead from 21 to 7 and looked like they could get the ball back to tie.
Despite the late rally, the Maryland defense played a very solid and respectable game. It is still a little worrisome that the team was once again led by a defensive back in tackles, but that’s something Maryland fans should be used to by now. S Antwine Perez had a stellar evening with 11 tackles, 1 TFL, a forced fumble – which he also recovered, and a crucial 4th down pass breakup in the end zone.
Offensive Coordinator/Assistant Coach James Franklin said after the game that the kept going with what was working. Then when asked about O’Briens numbers he said “For a redshirt freshman to put up those kind of numbers is, in a word, huge”. He seemed very pleased with the way the offense played after they stumbled out of the blocks.
The win puts the Terps in a position to go to a number of bowl games. The speculation seems to be that it would be the Military Bowl held at RFK Stadium in DC. We won’t know for sure for a couple of days. The win also means that Florida State is the ACC Atlantic Champion and will face Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship next Saturday.
One thing that should be noted about this game is the passion that Coach Friedgen has for this team. During his press conference on multiple occasions you could see him choke up and his overall pride in this team. He told the media that last night he had a few words for the team and said “I asked them if they were tired of being disrespected. Respect is earned, not given, that was my message”. He also mentioned the detractors who noted that Maryland hadn’t beaten anyone of substance to date, but noted that they beat someone today.
The lingering question from this game could be the status for WR Torrey Smith for next year. It was a main point of emphasis after the game, but Smith said all the right things and made sure to still keep it a secret. If I had to guess, I would say he is done in College Park after the bowl, but it’s merely speculation at this point.