Destination Unknown

The Wolfpack will spend the initial days of December lobbying for position among the bowl games with ACC tie-ins, guaranteed a spot but not a particular destination.

Back in August, that would have been cause for unmitigated joy among the Wolfpack faithful. But it's a bittersweet feeling now, because a victory last weekend against Maryland would have given the team so much more.

Had State managed to beat the Terrapins, it would have earned a spot in the ACC championship game this weekend. Instead, it fell victim to the Danny O'Brien-Torrey Smith tandem that hooked up for four touchdowns in a 38-31 Maryland win.

The Terrapins played well, but many of the Wolfpack's woes were self-inflicted. Dropped passes plagued the team all day long, and both of the team's turnovers proved costly.

"When you make too many mistakes, it's something that happens," said George Bryan, the usually sure-handed tight end who had some critical dropped passes. "We just need to get ready for the bowl game and try not to repeat those mistakes again."

Now the focus is on the postseason and the rumors and backroom dealings that will end in the Wolfpack's postseason invitation.

"I think a lot of people didn't think we would have done as well as we have. But we thought that we could do a little bit better," quarterback Russell Wilson said. "Right now we just need to get ready for the next bowl game. It'll be a great one, I'm sure it will be."

NOTES, QUOTES
-- For the second week in a row, the Wolfpack defense held its opponent to negative rushing yards. Maryland finished with minus-9 yards a week after North Carolina finished with negative 7 rushing yards against North Carolina State.

-- WR Jarvis Williams finished with eight catches for 78 yards a week after getting ejected in the North Carolina game. Williams heads into the bowl game in sixth place in school history with 127 career catches.

GAME BALL GOES TO: DT J.R. Sweezy -- Sweezy had four tackles behind the line of scrimmage against the Terrapins, continuing a strong late surge from the lineman.

KEEP AN EYE ON: S Brandon Bishop -- Bishop finished with 12 tackles against Maryland, a career high. The sophomore's previous high in tackles was seven.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They feel really crushed. I don't think they have comprehended what a great year they really had. When you look at eight wins or nine wins ... when you look at our school, it hasn't been done too many times. It's a good start; now we can be better. I told the seniors we are going to find a way to win our ninth game." -- North Carolina State coach Tom O'Brien.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD:
North Carolina State was again strong against the run, holding Maryland to negative-9 yards on the ground.

-- Russell Wilson threw for 311 yards and also ran for two touchdowns. He flummoxed the Terrapins all day, and his numbers would have been higher if his receivers had given him more help.

-- State was penalized just twice for 20 yards. Maryland, meanwhile, lost 92 yards in penalties.

STILL NEEDS WORK: Dropped passes were a killer for the Wolfpack on Saturday. George Bryan and Owen Spencer both had their hands on what appeared to be touchdowns that they just couldn't manage to haul in, and several other balls went straight from the Wolfpack's hands to the ground (or in one case to Maryland LB Eric Franklin for an interception).

-- State hasn't had a 100-yard rusher all season. James Washington got the bulk of the carries against Maryland but finished with 55 yards on 15 carries.

-- The passing defense allowed Danny O'Brien to throw for 417 yards, 224 of which were to Torrey Smith. Smith also caught four touchdown passes, so it's safe to say that whatever strategy the team had planned to deal with the O'Brien-Smith combination didn't work.

ROSTER REPORT:
-- RB Mustafa Greene left the game with a strained neck after being hit by Maryland cornerback Cameron Chism in the first half. He did not return. Chism was given a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

-- WR Owen Spencer had 69 yards on five receptions against Maryland. That gives him 2,397 career yards, third best in program history.


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