Avenging 2008

A new Terps team will face a similar situation this Saturday against FSU.

On Saturday night, the Maryland Terrapins will host the Florida State Seminoles in a primetime game in front of a blacked out home crowd, with once again the fate of their season on the line.

Sound familiar?

The Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division will have two of the three contenders face off with first place in the division and a chance to clinch a spot in the championship game at stake.

Ironically, these are the same circumstances that surrounded the Terps two years ago, when the Seminoles travelled to College Park and pummeled the home team, and shattered their dreams of a championship.

The Maryland football team did not want to remember much of that game. Wide receiver Torrey Smith simply put it: “I remember being freezing cold. It was a tough loss for us; they beat us pretty good.”

A 21-0 lead at the half evolved into a 34-point routing of the Terps in what was the fewest point total allowed in school history. The 51,260 Byrd Stadium faithful flew the nest before the third quarter even started, trying to determine whether it due to the disappointment in their team or the 23 mph gusts of wind.

For others not even wearing a Terrapins uniform, like quarterback Danny O’Brien, the game was an embarrassment.

As a senior at East Forsyth High School in North Carolina and recent Terps commit, O’Brien invited his friends over to watch the nationally televised game. I’m sure he expected more out of a field goal from his future team.

To be cliché, the past is behind the Terps, or at least that is the common mindset of the Terps clubhouse. The 2008 team had a lot of the similar faces to the team that will come out to play on Saturday, but then again, there are plenty of newcomers as well.

“Some of our starters now weren’t even on the team then. That was two years ago. This Maryland team has never lost to Florida State,” Smith said.

In many ways, Smith is correct. This is a Terrapins team that has conquered many of their demons. They snapped their 10-game road-losing streak; they have preserved at the end of games and they are making their presence felt in all three facets of the game.

Behind a first-year starter at quarterback, the Maryland offense has already surpassed their touchdown total from a season ago, and has scored 62 and 42 points twice this season. They have accounted for just eight turnovers, one third of the previous year’s total.

For a defense that in 2009 that amassed 10 interceptions, this year’s team already has 15 picks, including four returned for scores. And the 375 points allowed last year is nearly 125 more than the team is on pace for.

The 90 points the Seminoles have scored in their past three wins will surely factor into their upcoming matchup.

“They are motivated just to beat people who beat them last year. It’s been a little bit of a battle cry for us all year long,” head coach Ralph Friedgen said.

Friedgen added that the heart and effort that he has seen from his players this year could be the difference in the battle of these two statistically similar teams.

A motivated home crowd, on the other hand, could be a factor in determining the game’s outcome, as suggested by Smith. The Terps are 4-0 at Byrd Stadium this season, and own a 1-6 record over the past three seasons.

“At the end of the day, it is 11 on 11. But it is tough to play in Byrd [Stadium] when our fans out there. We need them to beat Florida State,” Smith said. “It is a night game; it is primetime, so we know Byrd is going to be rocking.”

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