Notebook: Series Full of Close Games

NC State (2-5) faces Maryland (5-2) in a huge conference game for both teams. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30, and the game will not be televised but is available to view online at ESPN360.

The series with Maryland dates back to 1909, with the two teams meeting every year since 1956. The rivalry has been a close one through the years, as evidenced by the 30-30-4 series record. The Terrapins have two more wins in College Park while NC State holds a one-win advantage in Raleigh.

The Wolfpack has lost six of the last eight games to Maryland, but prior to that streak had won eight of nine. Tom O'Brien is 2-1 against Maryland in his coaching career, including a win in his only trip to College Park, a 31-16 victory in 2005 while the head coach at Boston College

NC State is in the midst of a rare stretch as it is playing only two games in 34 days. After playing Boston College on October 4, NC State had the next Saturday (October 11) off as it prepared for the Thursday, October 16 game against Florida State. The Pack travels to Maryland this week, before its true bye week with no game on November 1. NC State returns to the field on November 8 to face Duke in Durham, N.C.

The only other time that NC State played just two games in 34 days was in 1995, between October 1 and November 3. NC State played at Alabama on October 7, and at Duke on October 21 of that year.

Not counting 2008's 37-0 win by Maryland, the previous seven contests between NC State and Maryland (five of which the Wolfpack lost) have all gone down to the wire, with the average margin of victory being just 5.4 points. NC State's 10-point win at College Park in 2004 was the largest margin in those seven games before last season.

In 2000, the teams went into double-overtime in College Park before State fell, 28-35. In 2001, the Terrapins scored with under a minute remaining to win 23-19 and in 2002, Maryland kicked a field goal with 34 seconds remaining to take their first and final lead: 24-21. In 2003, after missing an extra point to tie the game for Maryland, the Terrapin placekicker booted a 43-yard field goal with just 23 seconds remaining to give his squad a 26-24 victory.

In 2004, the Wolfpack won by 10 by dominating the Terrapins defensively. NC State won by six, 20-14, in 2005 to become bowl eligible in the final game of the season. In 2006, the Pack turned the ball over three times to give the Terrapins a short field and easy scores, as NC State fell 26-20 in College Park.

The 2007 game was dominated by the Terps in a 37-0 win in Carter-Finley, the first time the Wolfpack offense was shutout in 150 games dating back to 1995.

NC State's injury troubles were well documented in 2007, with 13 starters missing time in 44 total games, with six starters missing multiple games.

So far during 2008, NC State has already had 12 starters - including projected starters - miss playing time because of injury for a total of 50 games. All 12 of the players have each missed multiple games because of injury.

Redshirt freshman starting quarterback Russell Wilson returned to the starting lineup against Clemson after suffering a concussion in the second quarter of the opening game loss to USC. He played one snap - as a holder on an extra point - against William & Mary in the second game. He missed the South Florida loss with an undisclosed injury, but is now cleared and has started the last two games.

Redshirt senior tight end Anthony Hill was out indefinitely after suffering a pectoralis strain after playing in the opener and catching his first pass since 2006. Hill missed all of 2007 with a knee injury but returned to action against BC and then caught a touchdown against Florida State.

Hill's replacement in the starting lineup for the second game against William & Mary, Matt Kushner, suffered a season-ending knee injury in the contest. Redshirt junior Jamelle Eugene, the team's starting tailback heading into the season, missed the first three games of the year after leading the team in rushing and being named team MVP in 2007. Junior wideout Donald Bowens, the team's top returning receiver by yardage and per catch average in 2007, was diagnosed with lower back stress fractures that will keep him sidelined in 2008. Bowens was a lock to start.

Clem Johnson, a junior college transfer who could have started at safety for the Pack to open the season, broke his jaw in the team's second scrimmage and missed the first four games of the season, but saw his first playing time against USF before notching his first career interception against BC and adding 14 tackles in the last two games.

Johnson was slated to start for injured safety Javon Walker, who had knee surgery and is out for the year after being injured in the Miami game late in the 2007 season.

Starting defensive tackle Alan-Michael Cash - who O'Brien called the teams best lineman this season - and the Pack's most experienced offensive lineman, Curtis Crouch, each missed three games this season but returned to action against FSU. In addition, redshirt junior tailback Toney Baker had knee surgery prior to the 2008 opener and is out for the season. Baker suffered a season-ending knee injury after starting the 2007 opener against Central Florida last season.

Only three NC State football players on the current roster have earned three letters heading into this season: Curtis Crouch, Andre Brown and J.C. Neal.

For the second straight game, NC State went a full contest without turning the ball over. The last time that happened was in 2002, and it has only happened seven previous times in school history, including only four times since 1967.

Four of the first five teams NC State played this season were ranked at some point this season, and the Wolfpack has played the nation's No. 15 toughest schedule according to the USA Today/Sagarin Rankings this week.

NC State was the only ACC team to face four teams in the first five weeks of the season that had been ranked at some point in 2008. In fact, a NC State team had never played even three ranked opponents in the first five games of the season in school history until now.

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