OSU excepted to play in the Emerald Bowl on Sunday. We know that. But do we know anything about our opponent, the 6-6 Maryland Terrapins? To help us with that, I'm happy to bring in Carolina March, SportsBlog Nation's North Carolina Tar Heel blog. I thought I would start our preview of Maryland by talking to someone from the same conference:
Carolina March: The Virginia and UNC games were both taken down to the wire, but so was the win against Georgia Tech, so 6-6 is a fair record for them.Maryland's been highly erratic all year, and it's tough to know how legit they are. A month ago, OSU would have blown them out. A week ago, you would have won close. Another few weeks? It depends on which team is still motivated.
Building the Dam: You guys (North Carolina) lost to Maryland 16-13. While you two finished with identical conference records, two more wins out of conference got the Terps into a bowl. How did that game go?
Carolina March: We actually won that game 16-13. (I know, I'm rather surprised as well.) (Note from Jake: sorry for my inability to read a schedule) Maryland got off to a really slow start in that game - they gained something like three yards in the first quarter, and threw a critical interception near the end of the first half, giving UNC's juggernaut field kicking offenses another kick through the uprights. Their running game sputtered enough that they couldn't make up the deficit in the second half.
The identical conference records are rather misleading, by the way. Maryland's conference slate was a lot tougher - no Duke or Miami on the schedule, for instance.
Building the Dam: Just from looking at stats, it looks like Maryland has a good QB, many threats at receiver, and two good senior running backs. What are their strengths on offense?
Carolina March: Turner has come into his own at QB, considering he started the season third on the depth chart. The running backs are actually a bit off of last year's pace, due to injuries, and the recievers are indeed among the best in the league. Which really makes you wonder why it hasn't added up to more wins.
Building the Dam: Maryland's defense is ranked low in the conference in both rush defense and pass defense. Are there any bright spots on the defense?
Carolina March: They keep folks out of the endzone. In the last six games, only Boston College has managed more than 17 points. True, UNC, N.C. State and Florida State aren't exactly offensive powerhouses, but still.
Building the Dam: Their biggest win of the season came against #8 Boston College. Did you watch that game, and if so, what did Maryland do to win. Or, what did Boston College do to lose?
Carolina March: I didn't see the game, but from what I've heard the Terps beat a suspect pass defense on a team that really wasn't expecting much of a fight, as weakened as Maryland was by injuries.
To be honest, this Maryland team is a bit of a mystery, and this is coming from someone who lives a Metro ride from College Park. (It doesn't help that the only way the team could get local media coverage is if one of the players shot Sean Taylor.) Nothing about this team would make you think the Beavers will have much trouble, but they did knock of BC and absolutely flatten an improving N.C. State team going for a bowl game. If they keep improving through a long, dull, December, it could be a pretty interesting game.
24 more days.