NOTES: Breaking The Tie

In the 100+ year gridiron series between NC State and Maryland, the overall record stands just where it did when the series started: all tied up.

The all-time series, which dates back to 1909, has resulted in 32 wins for the Wolfpack, 32 wins for the Terrapins and four ties.

In recent history, the series has been a little more lopsided, with the Terrapins taking eight of the last 12 contests.

Byrd Stadium has not been a friendly destination for the NC State Wolfpack in recent years. State has not won a game on Maryland's home field since Oct. 16, 2004 and has dropped five of the last six contests there.

In Raleigh, the Pack has won three of the last four.

In the 21st century, the games between NC State and Maryland have been close ones. Of the last 12 contests between the two teams, four of which the Wolfpack has won, 10 have been decided by 10 points or fewer. Four of those 10 games have been decided by four or less points and nine by less than 10 points.

Last season, the Pack won by 15 points, but had to score 42 unanswered points in the second half to gain the victory in the largest comeback in school history.

NC State head coach Tom O'Brien is in some elite company, as he ranks 20th among the winningest active coaches in the BCS ranks. In his 16th campaign as a head coach, O'Brien posts a career record of 111-76. Eleven of his 15 teams have advanced to postseason bowls. Only 27 of the 120 coaches in the BCS have posted at least 100 career wins.

When the nation's top-ranked teams have faced a Wolfpack squad under Tom O'Brien, they usually aren't ranked as high the following week. NC State posts an 8-5 record against teams ranked in the top-25 under O'Brien.

The FSU game two weeks ago marked the second time that the Wolfpack has hosted a top-10 foe at home during O'Brien's tenure. Seventh-ranked Clemson visited Carter-Finley last season and left with a 37-13 defeat at the hands of the Pack.

In the history of college bowl games, no head coach has ever posted a winning percentage better than NC State head coach Tom O'Brien. During his 15 years as a head coach at Boston College and NC State, O'Brien has won .800 of his bowl games, posting an 8-2 postseason slate.

During his 15 years as a head coach, Tom O'Brien has mentored 23 assistant coaches. Seven of those have gone on to become collegiate head coaches. Three of his former protégés are now head coaches in the Atlantic Coast Conference: Al Golden at Miami, Mike London at Virginia and Frank Spaziani at Boston College. In other words, the Tom O'Brien coaching tree makes up a third of the entire league.

Following NC State's upset of No. 3 Florida State on Oct. 6, Tom O'Brien and company had an open week prior to this week's game at Maryland.

Historically, the Wolfpack has done well after a bye week under Tom O'Brien, posting a 4-2 mark. Here's a look at the Pack's results in bye weeks since O'Brien was named head coach prior to the 2007 campaign (including two Thursday night games that were played after an open Saturday).

Although the record in those games following bye weeks have been favorable for the Wolfpack, the results have been close - 9.0/ppg.

There is no doubt that the NC State football squad definitely feeds off the energy provided by its home fans. Since the beginning of the 2010 season, the Wolfpack has posted a 14-2 record at Carter-Finley Stadium, including wins over two top-10 teams.

In that same time frame, the Pack has posted a 5-8 mark in away games and a 2-1 mark at neutral sites.

Heading into the Oct. 6th contest with the Wolfpack, the Florida State defense ranked fifth in the NCAA in rushing yards allowed (72.4), fourth in passing yards allowed (128.4), third in total yards allowed (200.8), and seventh in scoring defense (11.4).

Those numbers held true in terms of rushing yards, as the Pack was held in check with 66 rushing yards, but the NC State passing attack, led by quarterback Mike Glennon, rang up 259 yards - giving the Pack 325 yards of total offense for the game.

The NC State defense also held its own against a Florida State offense that was highly ranked in the NCAA stats entering the contest. The Seminoles ranked eighth nationally in rushing (261.2), 32nd in passing (283.2), ninth in total offense (544.4), and sixth in scoring offense (51.0). The Pack defense held the Seminoles to season-lows in passing (218), total offense (343), and scoring (16).

In addition to ruining FSU's season averages, the Pack also did a great job of protecting its QB and getting pressure on Florida State's QB. Coming into the contest, FSU had given up just six sacks in the first five games, but the Pack sacked E.J. Manuel a total of four times.

On the other side, FSU was averaging 3.0 sacks made per game (18th-best in the NCAA), but NC State's make-shift offensive line (playing without three starters) allowed just one sack on the day.

If the first six games of the season are good indicators, when the opposition gets to third down, their punter better be warming up. NC State ranks second in the ACC and fourth nationally in third down conversion defense. The Wolfpack is allowing its opponents to convert at just a 26.19 clip this season.

And fourth down? Forget about it! The Pack leads the ACC and ranks fourth nationally, allowing just one success in eight opponent fourth-down attempts in 2012.

In the last five games, the Wolfpack defense has held the opponents to a .236 (13-55) percentage on third down conversions. From late in the UConn game, until the 3rd quarter against The Citadel, opponents went 16 consecutive third downs without a conversion. Florida State was converting exactly half of the time on third down before they ran into a fired-up Pack defense that allowed them to convert just three of 15 third down attempts.

On Sept. 15, Mike Archer's defensive unit held South Alabama without a third or fourth down conversion on the game as the Jaguars finished 0-for-11 on third down and 0-for-1 on fourth. The last time NC State had held a team without a third down conversion came in 1992, when the Pack forced Virginia Tech to an 0-for-12 mark, a span of 228 games.

In 83 drives this season, the Wolfpack has forced 25 three-and-outs. That average ranks 16th in the nation.

Heading into the 2012 campaign, the Wolfpack offensive line was one of the most solidly entrenched (no pun intended) units on the squad. All five starters on the OL had started games previously during their careers, while four plus a projected backup had been season-long starters.

In order to get the most experienced, most talented players on the field, the coaching staff did some shifting in the preseason. Senior R.J. Mattes moved to the fourth starting position of his career, left guard, so that talented junior Rob Crisp could man the left tackle spot. Andrew Wallace, a season-long starter at guard two years ago, moved over to right tackle. Center Cam Wentz and right guard Zach Allen stayed put. The unit entered fall camp in that alignment.

That continuity was broken just a week into the season, when starting left tackle Rob Crisp, was unable to compete due to an injury suffered in the season opener. Backup right tackle Tyson Chandler, a redshirt sophomore, started in Crisp's spot in the next three games.

Against The Citadel, starting right tackle Andrew Wallace suffered a foot injury, so Mattes moved back to left tackle, Chandler moved to right tackle and Duran Christophe, who started 12 games in 2011, got the nod at right guard. At Miami, right guard Zach Allen left the game with season-ending foot injury, giving Cameron Fordham his first career start at right guard against FSU.

Against Maryland, the Pack could start its fifth different lineup at offensive line in seven games.

NC State currently ranks a lowly 10th in the conference standings in turnover margin - mainly due to the six turnovers the Pack committed at Miami. State has been schizophrenic in terms of turnovers in 2012, losing the ball four times in the opener, then just three total times in the next three games, six times against Miami and then just once against third-ranked Florida State.

In NC State's two losses this season, it has turned the ball over 10 total times, while forcing just two opponent miscues. In its four wins, the Pack has lost the ball just four total times, while forcing 10.

Another area that has been feast or famine for the Wolfpack in 2012 has been penalties. In the Pack's two losses this season, the squad has averaged an inordinate nine yellow flags thrown for an average loss of 70 yards. In the four victories, the Pack has averaged six fouls per game for an average loss of 48.5 yards.

NC State ranks an uncharacteristic eighth in the ACC in penalties, with 7.0 per contest (the Pack ranks second-to-last in the league in opponent penalties - just 5.0 times a game).

Since Tom O'Brien was named head coach, the highest penalty per game average was 6.6 in 2007.

Although the Wolfpack returned a record number of senior starters this season, NC State ranks among the national leaders in most players who have started for the first time in 2012. A whopping 13 players have started for the first time this season, a mark which ties for 17th nationally.

NC State's rushing attack has been a bit up-and-down this season. In the first three games, the Pack averaged just 100.0 yards as a team on the ground, including a low of 54 yards against Connecticut. The leading rusher in those three contests did not go over 68 yards.

NC State opened up the running lanes against The Citadel and Miami however, posting back-to-back 200-yard team rushing efforts for the first time since late in the 1998 season. In each game the Pack's leading rusher finished with over 100 yards - Shadrach Thornton with 145 against The Citadel and Tony Creecy with 120 at Miami.

In the upset of then-No. 3 Florida State, the Pack once again struggled on the ground, finishing with 66 yards on 27 carries. Although those numbers might have been down some because of QB Mike Glennon's career-high 55 pass attempts, including 42 passes in the second-half comeback.

The low numbers against UConn and FSU might be due in large part to the fact that, in the NCAA statistics this week, Florida State ranks fifth nationally in rushing defense (74.86) and Connecticut ranks 13th (99.43).

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