Maryland (6-5) at NC State (3-8)
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 30, 12:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carter-Finley Stadium (57,583) -- Raleigh, North Carolina. Television: ACC Network. Home Record: UMD 3-3, NCST 3-4. Away Record: UMD 2-2, NCST 0-4. Neutral Record: UMD 1-0, NCST 0-0. Conference Record: UMD 2-5, NCST 0-7. Series: NC State leads, 33-32-4.
GAME NOTES: The Maryland Terrapins and NC State Wolfpack will meet for the final time as Atlantic Coast Conference foes, as the longtime rivals will end their respective regular-season schedules against one another on Friday afternoon at Carter-Finley Stadium.
NC State holds a slim 33-32-4 edge in the all-time series, which began more than a century ago and effectively ends with this meeting. Maryland is set to join the Big Ten Conference next season.
NC State is currently mired in a seven-game losing streak and is winless in ACC play this season. Most recently, the Wolfpack was on the wrong end of last weekend's 42-28 home non-league foe East Carolina. All three of the team's wins this season have come at home, although the last of those victories came back on Sept. 28 against Central Michigan.
While there will be no postseason for NC State, Maryland became bowl eligible two weekends ago with its shocking overtime win against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. However, the Terrapins followed that up with a 29-26 home loss to Boston College this past weekend. That game was decided when Eagles kicker Nate Freese hit a career-long 52-yard field goal as time expired. A first kick actually sailed wide left, but Terps coach Randy Edsall called a timeout just before the kick, and Freese converted his second opportunity to end it.
Maryland's offense struggled to move the chains against BC, as the unit converted only 2-of-13 third downs and finished with just 278 yards of total offense. Quarterback C.J. Brown threw for a touchdown and ran for another, but he passed for only 178 yards (19-of-31) and was sacked four times. It marked the sixth time this season that Brown has notched at least one rushing TD and one passing score in a game, which is tied with Clemson's Tajh Boyd for the ACC lead. All told, Brown has accounted for 18 touchdowns on the season and has rushed for 400 yards. However, he and running back Brandon Ross combined for only 66 yards on 23 combined attempts against BC.
The Maryland defense was gashed for 263 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns by Eagles running back Andre Williams, the nation's leading rusher. With Williams averaging nearly a first down per tote (8.2 ypc), BC quarterback attempted only 14 passes and finished with 120 passing yards. The majority of those yards came on the go-ahead 74-yard TD pass to a wide open Alex Amidon to make it a 26-24 game with just over five minutes to play. Linebacker Marcus Whitfield blocked the ensuing point after attempt, which defensive back Anthony Nixon returned the other way for the program's first-ever defensive extra point to tie the score at 26-26. However, BC wound up with the final dagger as Freese's last-second field goal capped a six-play, 45-yard drive with the game in the balance.
NC State's offense has ranked among the least productive units in the nation throughout the season. However, the offense has shown some signs of life in recent weeks. After failing to reach 20 points in four straight games, the Wolfpack has since scored 20 or more in each of its last three, albeit all losses. Sophomore tailback Shadrach Thornton did not crack the starting lineup until the fourth game of the season, but he is now averaging 76.4 rushing yards against ACC opponents, the fourth-best mark in the league. NC State aired it out against ECU last week, as Brandon Mitchell threw for 312 yards and four TDs, both career highs.
Defensively, NC State is allowing an average of 29.2 points and 396.5 total yards per game. Senior middle linebacker Robert Caldwell has been one of the few bright spots, ranking fourth in the ACC with 8.8 tackles per game. However, he simply has not gotten very much help from his supporting cast. ECU scored in each quarter of last week's showdown, including four straight touchdowns in the second and third quarters. The Pirates were able to keep the chains moving by converting 8-of-12 third downs en route to 445 yards of total offense on the day. Caldwell once again led the way with 10 tackles (3.0 TFL) in a losing effort.
While Maryland is once again bowl eligible, it could certainly help its standing in the eyes of the bowl committee with a strong showing here. Look for the Terps to get back into the win column in their final ACC regular- season game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Maryland 31, NC State 17
11/27 11:09:50 ET