Terps Hope to Cruise To Top of Atlantic

Unpredictable division race still in Maryland's hands

When the Terps came up short to Miami, they were not alone. Their closest competition in the ACC Atlantic Division, Florida State and North Carolina State, lost as well. Now all three 6-3 teams have a fighter’s chance to win the division.

It is impossible to explain; is it a case of growing parody within the conference, or is it a classic case of mediocrity? Maryland lost to Miami, their second ACC loss. Florida State fell to North Carolina, and N.C. State to Clemson, all of which came in fourth quarterback comebacks.

For the Terps, however, destiny remains in their hands. Three wins to conclude the season would allow the team to win their division and have an opportunity to face off against the Coastal Division champions in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 4 in Charlotte, N.C.

“We’re going to approach each game, each play, every second like it’s going to be our last and that’s why we’re going to be successful,” offensive tackle R.J. Dill said. “I know one projection is we win every game and we are going to win the Atlantic Division; that’s the one I am going to worry about.”

Throughout the season, Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen has preached a one-game at a time approach as the team attempted to rebound from last season’s letdown. However, at no better time in the season has this attitude been more fitting than now.

“The tough thing with [Florida State and North Carolina State] losing, a win would have put us in the driver’s seat. You can’t do anything about it now,” quarterback Danny O’Brien said. “We still control our own destiny, so if we can just win one week at a time, good things can still happen for us.”

But the science is not as simple. Three wins does earn Maryland a division championship, but three losses puts them at risk for missing a bowl game altogether.

“Just because you’re bowl-eligible,” Friedgen said, “doesn’t mean you’re going to make a bowl [game]. Every win we have from here on out is going to determine which bowl we go to,” suggesting that games become more important come November.

There are however nine bowl games made available for ACC teams, including the Orange Bowl Chick-fil-A Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl, Hyundai Sun Bowl, Meineke Car Care Bowl, Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Advocare V100 Independence Bowl, Eagle Bank Bowl and finally the Kraft Flight Hunger Bowl.

“I know all the bowls; it’s easy to get caught up that stuff,” O’Brien said. The redshirt freshman is still clamping to get another shot down in Miami, though. “The Orange Bowl -- that’s the only one I want go to.”

The sentiment was shared by his teammate Dill, who said he wanted nothing to do with playing a bowl game out in Boise, ID., as his team did two seasons ago in the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl.

In 2010, just one team in the ACC has a perfect conference record, and it seems at any point in time a team can move from third place to first. When asked if he had any explanation for the madness going in within the conference, wide receiver Torrey Smith offered his thoughts.

“It’s the ACC – you don't know who is going to win.”

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