While turtles have normally been relegated to typical childhood fables or pizza-eating, weapon-wielding cartoon heroes, the Maryland Terrapins have an opportunity this Saturday to go down in Seminole football lore.
Florida State (3-3) and Maryland (2-4) both have just one conference win through their first three ACC games of the year. The loser in Saturday's 3:30 p.m. kickoff at Doak Campbell Stadium can essentially pack up the gear and start planning for spring drills.
With five games remaining on the schedule after Saturday's showdown, the 'Noles still could earn bowl eligibility and play a postseason game, but a loss to the Terps would be a huge blow for Seminoles Nation.
FSU has never lost to Maryland in games played at Doak. The 'Noles are 19-2 overall against the Terps and have averaged nearly 30 points per game vs. Maryland over the last nine seasons. It should be noted that in nine of the head-to-head tilts prior to 2002, the 'Noles scored 48 points or better against the Terps.
Last season's 30-16 garnet-and-gold victory in College Park was highlighted by a 44-yard touchdown connection from Christian Ponder to Bert Reed, along with a 70-yard TD run from Chris Thompson. Key elements from that 2010 win will not be part of the weekend action.
I must admit I'm still a bit saddened by how bad injuries can happen to great kids. Thompson, the workhorse speedster, will miss the game -- and the remainder of the season -- after having successful surgery to repair two breaks in his vertebrae. Defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel will also miss the game and rest of the year after having a procedure to repair a broken leg and dislocated ankle.
This weekend's contest might feel like a bit of unfortunate deja vu for two injured 'Noles in particular. The 2010 version of FSU-Maryland was watched from the sideline by guard David Spurlock and wide receiver Willie Haulstead because of health concerns. Both names are on a list of seven FSU offensive players that have been ruled out of Saturday's game due to injury again.
Play-making freshman wideout Rashad Greene has been listed as questionable. He's still recovering from an ankle sprain suffered in the Wake Forest game that kept him out of last week's 41-16 victory at Duke.
By the way, that Duke W was the 23rd ACC win for Florida State in the past six seasons. But that record is a lot closer to .500 than you would imagine. The Seminoles are 23-20 versus the conference since 2006. That also happens to be the last year FSU finished with a losing record (3-5) in ACC play.
Maryland is a welcome sight for a fan base anxious to string together its first two-game winning streak since September, when the 'Noles capped off blowouts of ULM and Charleston Southern. If you lump together the four ACC schools that are furthest away from FSU (Boston College, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Maryland), the 'Noles have had a bit of success. Over the past seven years, they've posted an 11-4 record against the Eagles, Cavs, Hokies and Terps.
Seminole supporters no doubt hope a 12th win comes Saturday, when the home fans get to see their first game played on Bobby Bowden Field in five weeks.
Elton Gumbel is a sports anchor and reporter for WCTV in Tallahassee, as well as a regular contributor to NoleDigest.com.
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