Terps try to respect Wolfpack

October 22, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland might have to resort to playing a parlor game to get ready to play a football game against North Carolina State this weekend.

The Wolfpack comes into Maryland's homecoming game without a national ranking. That's a bad sign for the Terrapins, who seem to need that Top 25 badge of honor on an opponent to seriously prepare to play.

"You have any ideas?" asked Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen on Tuesday at his weekly media conference.

Well, Maryland can play a football version of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Instead of trying to find a link to the actor, the Terps could try to find a ranked team through opponents of N.C. State.

The Wolfpack defeated East Carolina, which was ranked at the time and which beat Virginia Tech to open the season. The Hokies, who are Maryland's next opponent, defeated Georgia Tech, which is now rated No. 21.


Maybe that will shift Maryland's attention away from the fact that North Carolina State is 2-5 with an 0-3 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"This is another big game for us," said Maryland receiver Danny Oquendo. "We have to make sure we don't overlook them. We can't look at the hype in the media that says we are doing good and they aren't playing well."

That is one of the quirks saddling the Terps (5-2, 2-0) this season. They are 3-0 in games against Top 25 teams and have won the last five of those opportunities in a row. Maryland is 2-2 against the rest of college football's mosh pit.

"You have got to play the game at your level," said center Edwin Williams. "You can't worry about (the opponents). It's a matter of executing and being in the right situation."

Maryland finds itself in the middle of a four-way tie for first place in the ACC's Atlantic Division with Boston College, Florida State and Wake Forest. The Terps defeated Wake 26-0 last Saturday to earn any tiebreaker over the Demon Deacons, and will play the other two teams in the regular season's final two games.

Much could change by then, especially if Maryland doesn't come ready to play against N.C. State.

"We are busy preparing for N.C. State. They are a team that is getting better," Friedgen said. "I'm hoping my kids understand what their capabilities are."

Maryland has stubbed its toes against Middle Tennessee State and Virginia, two games which were all but marked in the win column before each was played. On each occasion, the Terps allowed themselves to be controlled instead of taking control. The missteps have cost Maryland a possible Top 25 spot of its own.

"This is an important game for us because of our standing in the ACC and we want to become bowl eligible," Friedgen said. "I'm going to be positive and encouraging to them. I'm going to try and make practice as enjoyable as possible. They have to decide to have the same work ethic that they have had for the last two weeks."

The illusion that North Carolina State is ranked wouldn't hurt either. Friedgen is looking for any edge he can give the Terps.

"It's a crazy race and to me, it's down to a five-game playoff right now," Friedgen said. "The team that has the best record after these last five games is the team that will play in Tampa (for the ACC championship). We have to take it one game at a time and it is very important that we play our best against North Carolina State this week."

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