Maryland-Florida State pre-game notes


COLLEGE PARK, Md. — With ramifications no one would have predicted back in September, the Maryland Terrapins (7-3, 4-2 ACC) prepare to take on the Florida State Seminoles (7-3, 5-2 ACC) in a “blackout” at Byrd Stadium with the Atlantic Division crown still hanging in the balance with two games remaining in the regular season.

Fresh off Thursday’s announcement that Ralph Friedgen would return for his 11th season as Maryland coach next season, the Terps control their own destiny in the final two weeks, needing wins against the Seminoles and N.C. State next Saturday to grab the division title and advance to the ACC championship game in Charlotte on Dec. 4.

Coming off a 2-10 season in which seemingly everything went wrong for the Terps, Maryland has already improved its win total by five games behind the surprising play of freshman quarterback Danny O’Brien, who has earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors four times. He ranks fourth in the ACC in passing efficiency (133.5) and fourth among FBS (Div. 1-A) freshmen.

After turnovers plagued the Terps last season, they now possess an efficient offense that has turned the ball over a league-low eight times and rank 38th nationally in scoring offense (31.4 points per game).

Opposing the Terps will be the perennially-tough Seminoles who enter tonight’s game sitting atop the Atlantic Division (tied with the Wolfpack who won earlier Saturday and a half-game ahead of Maryland) under first-year head coach Jimbo Fisher.

O’Brien and the Maryland offense will face a stout Florida State defense that is second in the conference in rushing defense (110.8 yards per game) and 10th overall in the nation.

The Seminoles are led offensively by senior quarterback Christian Ponder who missed last week’s game against Clemson after sustaining an elbow injury. Despite battling various arm injuries this season, Ponder has thrown 16 touchdowns and just seven interceptions in nine games for the Noles.

Tonight’s game at Byrd Stadium will mark the first time the Terps have sported all-black this season, which includes black helmets this time around. Maryland is wearing special camouflage uniforms — complete with numbers very difficult to see from the Tyser Tower press box — designed by Under Armour to support the Wounded Warrior Project.

Maryland captains for tonight’s game include safety Antwine Perez, receiver and Baltimore’s own LaQuan Williams, punter-kicker Travis Baltz.

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