By Todd McElwee
The University of Maryland football team will stay home Saturday evening as Florida State visits Byrd Stadium with kickoff slated for 7:45 p.m.
It may be a blessing as the Terrapins are undefeated at home. However, it could also be a curse as the nation's 25th-ranked team is winless after the sun sets. Regardless of the place or time, knocking off the Seminoles is critical if Maryland wants to earn a berth in the ACC Championship game.
"We're very excited right now," center Edwin Williams said. "We have put ourselves in the position to control our own fate. We want to go to and win the ACC Championship, but we really need to just take it one game at a time. Right now we are focusing on Florida State, and it is going to be a tough game to win."
Maryland is trying to hold off the Seminoles, as well as Wake Forrest and next week's opponent Boston College, to claim the ACC Atlantic. The Terps reside atop the division's standings with a 7-3 overall and 4-2 conference mark. After falling to Boston College last weekend, Florida State shares a 7-3 record with the Terps, but slipped into second within the Atlantic at 4-3. The Demon Deacons and Eagles square off Saturday. Should Wake Forest win, the Terps would wrap up the division, while also punching their ticket to their ACC title game by defeating the Seminoles.
"We feel really good," defensive lineman Jeremy Navarre said. "We were in this position two years ago when we played Wake Forest, and we blew it then. So it's kind of motivation to avenge blowing it before and also knowing that if we win out we will be in the big game. So we are excited we are in the situation, and we definitely don't want to screw up this big opportunity."
Now it's head coach Bobby Bowden and the Seminoles who stand in the Terps' way. Boasting the conference's top rated offense and defense, Florida State is athletic and dangerous on both sides of the ball.
Florida State averages 34 points and 385 yards per game, and the Seminoles convert 46.5 percent of third downs. Conversely, Florida State surrenders just 22.7 percent of their opponent's third downs. The Seminoles allow a conference best 274.7 yards per game and leads the ACC with 29 sacks., with junior Everette Brown accounting for nine. Flagged for 83 infractions, Florida State is also the league's most penalized outfit.
"They've got great speed off the edge," head coach Ralph Friedgen said. "When they press you, it's not half way. They are going to play zero coverage and you have to be ready for that too. Right now we are leading the conference in protection (six sacks allowed in six ACC games). So we have done a better job this year of pass protecting and I think Chris (Turner) has done a better job of getting rid of the ball. I think that is going to be one of the keys to winning the game."
Saturday night will see a blackout at Byrd Stadium. Terps' fans are encouraged to attend the contest in black.
Florida State could be Maryland's 600 victory. The Terps are 599-519-43 (.534) in 115 seasons.
On Saturday, Seminoles' safety Myron Rolle will be amongst the 15 finalist undergoing a final interview for one of two Rhoades Scholarships in Birmingham, Ala. The NCAA has granted him special permission to travel via charter plane to College Park.
Posted November 21, 2008