Why to watch: In a game between two of the ACC's worst programs, one school is going to keep faint postseason hopes alive while the other can begin preparations for a long offseason. Although Maryland has been awful from the opening kickoff, NC State has been a far bigger disappointment, falling apart with four consecutive losses. No one expected much from the Terrapins, which have lost five of the last six games, mixing in a surprising upset of Clemson on Oct. 3. The Wolfpack, on the other hand, began the season as a trendy choice to win the Atlantic Division, but has been riddled with injuries and unable to overcome a defense that wouldn't survive in the Big South Conference.
Why Maryland might win: Yeah, the NC State defense really is that bad. Over the last five games, it's been shredded for an average of 42 points and has been a sieve against the run and the pass. The one thing the Terrapins have done modestly well is throw the football, which it'll do often on Saturday afternoon. With a week off to catch his breath, QB Chris Turner will come out dealing, looking to locate top receivers Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon. Both played well throughout October and have the size to get position on the inexperienced Pack defensive backs.
Why NC State might win: In what's basically a carbon copy of this week's opponent, the Wolfpack will go after a flimsy Maryland secondary with one of the league's most potent passing attacks. In part out of necessity, Russell Wilson has thrown for 21 touchdowns and more than 2,000 yards, while also making plenty of key plays with his feet. Plus, he has more options than Turner, spreading the ball around to RB Toney Baker, TE George Bryan, and receivers Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams. The Terps are 100th nationally in pass efficiency defense, and it's going to show in Raleigh this week.
Who to watch: In a game that'll be dominated by the quarterbacks, whoever gets more backfield pressure will be at a distinct advantage at Carter-Finley Stadium. While Maryland likes to blitz its linebackers, mainly Adrian Moten, NC State prefers a more traditional approach, with the help of DE Willie Young. The season slowly slipping away for the Pack, Young has a chance to use November as a time to impress NFL scouts. He has outstanding get-off and leads the team with 10 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
What will happen: In a toss-up game between two similarly inept programs, NC State will end its slide with the help of Wilson, the most valuable player on either sideline. Finally facing an opponent with an equal number of shortcomings, the sophomore will once again hoist the Pack on his back, throwing three touchdown passes and mercifully getting a different result after 60 minutes.
CFN Prediction: NC State 31 … Maryland 27 ... Line: NC State -7
Must See Rating: (By The People 5 … The Men Who Stare At Goats 1) … 2