Pack Roars Into Bowl With Stunning Comeback

The Wolfpack will be hard-pressed to match the excitement in the bowl game from what it experienced in the regular-season finale.

It came in the form of a comeback from a 27-point, second-half deficit to defeat visiting Maryland. The final score of 56-41 sends the Wolfpack to a bowl game.

N.C. State holds a 7-5 record, but with two victories against Football Championship Subdivision teams, a seventh victory was required. "This type of win shows the character of our football team," coach Tom O'Brien said. "We didn't stop believing."

Facing a 41-14 hole, the rally marked the second-largest comeback in Atlantic Coast Conference history behind a 1992 rally by Clemson to overcome a 28-0 deficit against Virginia.

The Wolfpack needed to win its final two games to qualify for the postseason. First, it was toppling a Top 10 Clemson team, before the big comeback.

N.C. State might be in line to stay close to home at Charlotte's Belk Bowl, though it's possible a trip to the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., could be in the works if the pecking order alters from some initial projections. Either way, it will be the second bowl appearance in a row for the Wolfpack, which won three of four games in November.

NOTES, QUOTES
-- The biggest comeback in school history allowed the Wolfpack to become bowl-eligible. Trailing 41-14 to Maryland, N.C. State scored 42 unanswered points. That eclipsed a rally from 24 points down to defeat Minnesota in the 2000 Micronpc.com Bowl. Maryland's 41 points were the most allowed by N.C. State in a victory since a 51-48 triumph against Texas Tech in 2002.

-- The Wolfpack overcame its turnover troubles to defeat Maryland. The Wolfpack gave the ball up four times in the first half. That was a startling rate considering that N.C. State had committed a total of two turnovers in its previous three games combined.

KEEP AN EYE ON: S Earl Wolff -- He finished the regular season with a team-high 99 tackles after making eight stops against Maryland. He also intercepted his third pass of the season in the last home game of the season.

LOOKING GOOD: S Brandan Bishop made a team-high 10 tackles against Maryland. He also recovered two fumbles, giving him a team-high three recoveries for the season.

STILL NEEDS WORK: The Wolfpack has the personnel to make some big plays on special teams returns and that has dulled at times as the season has gone on. Of five kick-off returns against Maryland, the longest one went for 35 yards. Record-setting returner WR T.J. Graham averaged 25 yards per return on four attempts in the regular-season finale.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We had to get some things adjusted at halftime. Actually, we didn't even have to adjust them. We just had to stop beating ourselves. Once we stopped doing that -- and that's exactly what happened -- we started putting points up and the defense played well and it was just a great day." -- TE George Bryan on the Wolfpack's comeback from a 27-point deficit to defeat Maryland in the regular-season home finale.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
PLAYER NOTES:
-- QB Mike Glennon moved into the school record books when he was responsible for six touchdowns against Maryland, tying an N.C. State record held by former QB Philip Rivers. Glennon threw five touchdown passes and ran for another. The redshirt junior set career highs with 55 pass attempts and 36 completions.

-- TE George Bryan had a breakout game in his final home game. The senior, who entered the regular-season finale with 22 receptions this season, caught eight passes. In the process, he passed two former players to land in ninth place on the school's career list for receptions at 123.

-- RB James Washington continues to show durability as the primary ball carrier out of the backfield. He rushed 20 times against Maryland for 90 yards. That puts him at 852 yards for the season, so he could approach the 1,000-yard mark for the season in the team's bowl game.

ROSTER REPORT
-- RB Tony Creecy is showing versatility as his playing time rises. He caught eight passes against Maryland, accounting for nearly one-third of his season total of 25 receptions. The redshirt freshman is also the second-leading rusher on the team for the season with 366 yards.

-- K Niklas Sade didn't attempt a field goal against Maryland, marking the third game this season he was without an attempt. Still, he was busy with eight extra-point kicks. Sade heads to the bowl game with a streak of six consecutive successful field goals, though none of those came from more than 32 yards.

-- C.J. Wilson's first interception of the season resulted in a fourth-quarter touchdown when he returned the pick-off 59 yards for the score against Maryland. He became the seventh N.C. State player to intercept a pass this year.


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