Terrapins-Seminoles: Saturday Night Lights

Brett GellmanCorrespondent INovember 21, 2008

The Maryland Terrapins (7-3, 4-2 ACC) face the Florida State Seminoles (7-3, 4-3 ACC) tomorrow evening at Byrd Stadium in what will finally clear up the ACC title picture in the penultimate week of conference action. 


It is perhaps the Terps’ most important game of the season as they are in control of their own destiny in the Atlantic Division.


Florida State was originally in the driver’s seat, but after falling to Boston College in Tallahassee last weekend, the Noles are on the outside looking in after Maryland defeated North Carolina in a 17-15 upset the same day.


Should Wake Forest (6-4, 4-3 ACC) defeat Boston College (7-3, 3-3 ACC) tomorrow afternoon in Winston-Salem, the Terps could potentially capture the Atlantic Division if they defeat Florida State later that night in College Park. 


If Wake Forest loses, Maryland would have to beat the Noles as well as win at Boston College the following weekend in order to head to the ACC Championship game.


Just like Maryland, BC has destiny in its own hands and can win the Atlantic by winning out as well.  However, that all depends on the outcome of their matchup against the Demon Deacons tomorrow afternoon.  That game, which many Maryland and Florida State fans will have their eyes on, will be televised on ESPN at 3:30pm EST.


Nonetheless, the Terrapins have been on a roll at Byrd Stadium as they have been undefeated at home this season.  They are also the only program in the entire country to have defeated four AP Top 25 teams. 


On the flipside, the Terps are also the most schizophrenic team after head scratching losses to Virginia and, even more puzzling, Middle Tennessee State.


Yet here we are as the Terps surprisingly have the best chance to make the conference championship game.  Yeah, bookies must hate the ACC.


As for the game itself, FSU quarterback Christian Ponder is one of the more talented QBs the Noles have had in quite some time.  While not the most accurate (he’s thrown as many touchdowns as interceptions), he’s very mobile and could cause some problems for the Terrapins defensive line.


The Noles also expect the all five receivers who were suspended last week for an on-campus brawl to return to the field tomorrow night.


What Florida State will be missing is their two starting safeties.  Darius McClure injured himself last week after celebrating an interception against BC while Myron Rolle will be in Birmingham, Alabama for his Rhodes Scholarship interview.


Rolle could return after halftime as the Noles have provided private transportation for the junior following the conclusion of his interview.


Noles kicker Graham Gano could also play a huge role in tomorrow’s game.  The senior leads the nation in field goals and could make all the difference in the game as FSU learned last time they visited College Park in a 27-24 loss.


The Terrapins, who will be playing in front of a “blackout” crowd on Senior Night, have remained relatively healthy after their victory against the Tar Heels.


Running backs Da’Rel Scott and Davin Meggett ferociously brought back the running game which was notably absent just a week prior against Virginia Tech thanks to the improvement in Maryland’s offensive line.


The defense also played one of its best games of the season as they kept the Tar Heels scoreless in the second half.  The Terps will have to continue this trend as they will matchup against one of the best receiving corps in the ACC.  Fortunately, Florida State’s offensive line is one of the worst in the conference.


Prediction: 24-20 Florida State.  I give up on choosing winners of the parity-ridden ACC. It’s honestly a pure crapshoot.  See Georgia Tech’s lopsided victory over Miami last night for further evidence.  The Canes were riding high on a five game winning streak with control of the Coastal Division and get manhandled in Atlanta, 41-23. 


I’ll go with the Noles because the Terps are favored to win this game and because FSU isn’t ranked.  It’s the only way to makes sense out of this outcome.