Why Can’t Maryland Win the Games That Matter Most?

Brett GellmanCorrespondent INovember 24, 2008

It was frigid evening in College Park. Maryland’s senior players were introduced one-by-one before kickoff to one of the most important games of the Terrapins’ season.


The Terps were taking on Florida Statefor contention of first place of the Atlantic Division of the ACC. It was a must-win for both teams, as Wake Forest was defeated by Boston College earlier that afternoon.


Had Wake Forest won, the Terps could’ve clinched a trip to Tampa Bay with a victory over the Seminoles. But because BC was victorious, Maryland needed to win out its remaining two games in order to play at the ACC Championship game.


Instead, the Terrapins, who played under the lights on national television in front of a blackout crowd, were shellacked by the Noles, 37-3.  


It was a game with so much on the line: previously undefeated at Byrd Stadium with six victories, one step closer to the conference championship, and, lastly, it was Senior Night.


Despite baffling losses to Virginia and Middle Tennessee State, the Terps still had a chance to capture their first ACC title since 2001. In just one game, the dream had vanished.


Gone was the chance to play in Tampa. Orange Bowl? Forget about it. The best Maryland can do now is the Gator Bowl, and even then the Terps would need a lot of help to get there.


So, what happened? How could a team that defeated No. 16 North Carolina in a dogfight last weekend fall flat on its face seven days later in a game of even more importance?


This has been the trend not just this season, but for several years.  


Remember back in 2006 when Maryland had a chance to win the Atlantic against Wake Forest, at home no less? They lost the game and Wake went on to capture the ACC Championship.


Just two years later, and featuring a lot of the same players from the '06 team, the Terps couldn’t get it done. Heck, they couldn’t even get started by looking at the score.


Their veteran offensive line severely underachieved after an excellent performance just a week ago. Quarterback Chris Turner turned into a tackling dummy after the line allowed six sacks.


Maryland’s running game produced a total of one rushing yard in the first half.


The fact of the matter is that Florida State came out ready and hungry. They were not only the better team on the field, but the only team out there. The Terps didn’t even bother to show up.


With everything on the line, someone must’ve forgotten the oxygen tank in the locker room. Maryland was deflated before the game even got started.