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Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 11/19/2010

Maryland-Florida State - protecting our house

By Rick Nelligan

This Saturday’s matchup against Florida State is one of the most important games in the Ralph Friedgen era for the University of Maryland. If Maryland wins, they move on to a winner-take-all matchup with North Carolina State for a trip to the ACC Championship Game. If they lose, then Florida State would have the upper hand on getting to the Championship game, and the Terps can likely say hello to the Military Bowl. Some of you might say, “Hey, at least it’s close to home.” I say no. Like Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights, “I play for keeps.”

The Seminoles are a highly talented football team. They have one of the top offenses in the country, with pre-season Heisman contender Christian Ponder under center. They also feature three running backs that have at least 400 yards on the ground, with Ty Jones and Chris Thompson who average 7.2 and 7.3 yards per carry, respectively. The Seminoles also boast one of the top defenses in the country, only allowing 19.1 points per game and three yards per carry -- not to mention the 39 sacks the Seminoles have produced, easily the most in the country. Defensive end Brandon Jenkins leads the team with ten sacks. Yeah, they’re not bad.

If I were to approach this game logically, there are a few areas I believe the Terps can exploit to be successful. On offense, the Terps must maintain their balance. They have to continue to run the ball regardless of how (un)successful they are. They especially need to run at Jenkins as much as they can. The talented Seminoles defensive end weighs only 234 pounds, and having 300-pound men push you around a bit will wear anyone down. It will make Jenkins think twice before pass rushing exclusively, and will only help the Terps passing game. On defense, the Terps have been exceptional at disguising their blitzes, and that must continue. Ponder is an experienced quarterback, but Maryland’s defense has been great at creating and capitalizing on turnovers all year long. They are 13th in the country with 15 interceptions on the year, returning four of those for touchdowns.

Maybe the biggest stat to influence this game is third down conversions. On offense, Florida State is ranked 12th in the nation at converting on third downs at 47.7%. Conversely, the Maryland defense hasn’t been very good at getting off the field on third downs for most of the season, allowing opposing teams to convert 40.2 percent of the time. But during ACC play, the Terps have really stepped it up when it has mattered, only allowing opposing offenses to convert 33 percent of the time. If they can continue their recent trend of success on defensive third downs it will bode very well for the Terps.

Unfortunately, even based upon logic, it’s tough to say that Maryland should win this game. But what about this season has been logical? What about a team going from 2-10 to 7-3 and having a shot to get to the ACC Championship game is logical? None of it is. This is not a team of four and five star, top 150 players like Florida State. The Terps are an intelligent football team that rarely makes mistakes. Maryland will take advantage of their opponents’ mistakes and will fight for every point and yard until the final whistle. I will take a team that plays hard together and for each other over a group of talented individuals every day of the week.

The Seminoles want this game. They believe they should have this game based upon their talent. But we need this game. This team needs this game. This coaching staff needs this game. This program needs this game. This fan base NEEDS this game. Every player, coach, and fan will fight to win this game. Two years ago, it was the same situation. It was a blackout for a primetime game, with the Atlantic division still up for grabs. Florida State came into our house and treated it as if it was theirs, drubbing the Terps 37-3. Even though the circumstances are the same, the outcome won’t be. The remaining players from the 2008 game are ready to put that game behind them, as I’m sure the fan base is as well. It’s us versus them. We will enforce our game plan and our will on them, earning a 26-21 victory. This is our house! It’s another blackout, Terps Nation, so let’s be loud, and be proud to be Terrapins! We must protect this house!!!

By Rick Nelligan  | November 19, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  | Tags:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  
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The blackout has only worked once and that was against Florida State on a cold October night when it was unseasonably cold and almost below freezing if I remember since I was there. I want to say we're 1-5 or 1-6 for the blackout. Not to be superstitious.

Red is our primary color so why not do a "Red Alert" especially since this game is so critical and you want to bring attention to this game from the fans. Plus everyone has red stuff. I know I have more red Maryland shirts than I do black.

Posted by: DiehardTerp | November 19, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

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