The Maryland Terrapins are officially short-timers in the ACC. They will be leaving the conference to join the Big Ten in 2014, per ESPN. As the conference seems to be falling apart at the seams, this game represents the season finale for two teams headed nowhere.
The Tar Heels are a good team, but they are not postseason eligible. The Terps are plain horrible, so they may as well be ineligible. The Heels will be looking to leave a bad taste in their mouths about the 2012 season.
This is the Tar Heels' equivalent to a bowl game.
Winning this one may not be a difficult task, as the Terrapins are in the midst of another dreadful season. They have lost their last five games. The team is 4-7 overall and 2-5 in the ACC.
It will be tough for the Terrapins to come up with a win at Kenan Stadium.
Here's how you can catch the action and some deeper analysis into the game:
When: Saturday, November 24, 3 p.m. ET
Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
TV: ESPN Gameplan (PPV)
Live Stream: ESPN 3
Odds: North Carolina 23-point favorite (per Oddsshark.com)
C.J. Brown—QB—Out For Season (knee)
Devin Burns—QB—Out For Season (foot)
Nick Ferrara—K—Out For Season (hip)
Perry Hills—QB—Out For Season (knee)
Caleb Rowe—QB—Out For Season (knee)
North Carolina Tar Heels
Casey Barth—K—Out For Season (ankle)
T.J. Thorpe—WR—Out Indefinitely (foot)
Brennan Williams—RT—Out For Season (shoulder)
The Maryland Terrapins have no chance to go to a bowl game, and that's likely why they chose to announce their exit from the ACC when they did. Announcing it while they still had a chance to represent the conference in a bowl game would be plain awkward.
The Tar Heels would be in line for the Sun Bowl, but they aren't bowl eligible. This is a game for pride for both teams and a difficult sell for any the most diehard fan of both programs.
Notable Quotes, Strategies and Trash Talk
Terps' Players Seem Ready to Move On
Terrapins' offensive lineman Bennett Fulper had a very mature view on the program's switch to the Big Ten. He told the Washington Post:
Football is football. It’s not that much different, ACC or Big Ten.
Everywhere you go, there will be good teams. It’s a different opportunities. What it comes down to, is it’s one team against another. Let’s see who wins. It’s not that big of a deal as far as that goes.
That's a great way to look at the impending change from a player's standpoint, but teams still playing in the ACC have to feel a little more motivation to stick it to the Terps and other schools sneaking out the back door.
If you think this year was rough for Maryland in the ACC, wait until you see what happens in 2013.
Jonathan Cooper is Being Recognized as One of the Nation's Best O-Lineman
One of the biggest reasons Bryn Renner has thrown for over 3000 yards and Giovani Bernard has rushed for 1065 yards is the play of guard Jonathan Cooper.
Cooper was named one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy.
It's a shame this team won't get an opportunity to play in a bowl game. Cooper is one of the players who could benefit from the national exposure.
Nevertheless, look for him to be a relatively high draft pick in April.
Maryland's Key Player: Shawn Petty
Petty leads the worst offense in the nation.
The team is only averaging 274 yards per game of total offense. If The Terps are to have any chance of winning this game, they are going to have to find a way to move the ball.
That starts with Petty's ability to make plays.
His team has to be hoping he has a breakout performance in this one. A big game could get Terrapins fans mildly excited about 2013.
Tar Heels' Key Player: Bryn Renner
The only way the Tar Heels can lose this game is if they turn the ball over. Renner has to play smart. If he doesn't try to do too much, the blowout will come.
In the final game of the season, with no postseason ahead of him, he needs to resist the urge to make an unnecessary statement.
The Tar Heels are going to destroy the Terrapins in this game. With no postseason to look forward to, playing at home and matched against an inferior team, they will win big.
The Heels will prevail 40-7.
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