This could be the game. Maryland, now back on top of the Atlantic Division with their win over North Carolina last week. This game, it is very simple. If Maryland wins, they will either have the Atlantic Division title or a chance to win it next week against Boston College. If the Terps lose, no chance. Their opponent, a team that has not enjoyed their recent away games in College Park, Florida State.
The Maryland Terrapins (7-3, 4-2 ACC) take on Bobby Bowden's Florida State Seminoles (7-3, 4-3 ACC) in Byrd Stadium tonight. As said earlier, if the Terps want a shot at the championship, they must win tonight. Same goes for Florida State, but they do not control their own destiny. The Terps won their last game against UNC and are undefeated at home this season. The 'Noles have lost two of their last three games and are 2-1 on the road.
Scouting the Competition: Florida State Seminoles
Bobby Bowden and company have won two national titles with the ACC in the 1990s, but recently they have not been up to standard. This season they look much better with a 7-3 record after finally getting a dependable offense. There is no telling how long the 79-year-old Bobby Bowden has, but for now, he is still the main man from Tallahassee.
The key to the Florida State offense is Antone Smith (pictured), the senior running back Smith gets the bulk of the carries, 136 this season, averaging 4.8 yards a carry and has found the end zone 13 times. FSU's success rides on him. Last week in their loss to Boston College, he averaged only 1.9 yards a carry. If he does well, the Seminoles do well.
Their field general is Christian Ponder, giving FSU some success they could not find from Drew Weatherford (still on FSU roster) and Xavier Lee. The redshirt sophomore has completed 54.2% of his passes and has 11 scores plus 11 picks. Another quarterback like Maryland saw with Cameron Sexton last week, he won't win the game, but he won't lose one either.
The defense is nothing special, but watch out for Everette Brown, a bulldozing defensive end. The redshirt junior has nine sacks plus seven more tackles for loss on the season.
Things to look out for:
--Myron Rolle, FSU safety, will miss the first half at least for an interview for the Rhodes scholar award. The plan is to fly him from Alabama to Maryland via private jet for the second half. He is second on the team in tackles, and it is unknown how he'll be even when he plays, much less how Florida State will play without him.
--FSU averages 193 yards on the ground a game. Maryland's rushing defense has not been stellar lately, though they did do well against UNC. With the balanced offense of Florida State, they will need to focus on stopping the ground attack.
--Maryland has won the last two games in College Park against Florida State, including Joel Statham leading Maryland to a 20-17 upset of #5 Florida State in 2004.
--The weather is very cold in College Park, but in was cold in Florida too, so the Seminoles had time to get used to the possible conditions.
Two years ago, Maryland spoiled their chance to get to the ACC Championship at home against Wake Forest. It is possible that this game will determine who goes to represent the Atlantic Division. The numbers edge slightly towards the Terps, but make no mistake, this game will be a close one.
Prediction- Maryland 24, Florida State 20
(Photo credit: Baltimore Sun (Tyler), Athlon Football (Smith), Washington Post (Statham))