TIM PEELER: Wolfpack, Terps Meet in Deja Vu Bowl
BY TIM PEELER
The players who were with the Wolfpack program two years ago really didn’t need to remind anyone that they have lived through and succeeded in a similar situation to today’s regular-season finale between the Wolfpack (5-6 overall, 3-4 ACC) and Maryland (5-6, 2-5) at Carter-Finley Stadium. The game kicks off at noon, with the pregame show airing at 11 a.m.
Nearly two years ago to the day, the Wolfpack and Terrapins met on the same field, with the same thing at stake: both needed a victory to become bowl eligible.
The Wolfpack started that season slowly, losing four out of its first six games, then got on a roll behind new quarterback Marcus Stone. In the regular-season finale, the Wolfpack used a pair of Marcus Hudson interceptions in the final 10 minutes, including one
The win earned the Wolfpack a trip to the Meineke Car Care Bowl in
The game against the Terps was the final home game for Wolfpack standouts
First-year coach Tom O’Brien mentioned to his players following Sunday’s team meetings that one of its preseason goals is still in sight. But even he knows it was an unnecessary conversation.
“The guys who were here two years ago, they understand,” O’Brien said. “You don’t have to tell them that they need to win six games to go to a bowl game.”
O’Brien, whose teams at
So getting that sixth win and going to a post-season game whether it’s just down the road in
“We need that one win to get us to one of our ultimate goals,” said Blackman, now a senior wide receiver playing in his last home game.
“I don’t care where we go,” said Morgan. “I just want to get a chance to play one more game with my teammates.”
That goal seemed practically impossible earlier this year, after the Wolfpack opened the season with a 1-5 record, with the only win coming against Wofford. But in the second half of the season, O’Brien and his team have reaped the spoils of being on the same wavelength, winning four of their last five games.
“I think our players have done a heck of a job the second half of the season,” O’Brien said. “I think we have accomplished a lot. It’s just that we dug ourselves too deep a hole the first half of the year. It certainly would be great for the seniors to go out, because they came in wanting to go to a bowl game their last year.”
Both the coach and the players know what they have to do: take better care of the football. That didn’t happen last week against
“We're going to have to play a really good game on Saturday,” O’Brien said. “We have to go back to that formula that got us the four other victories. We went back and turned the ball over and gave up a lot of big plays last Saturday. That's been the bad formula.”
The Terps, who started the season with high hopes, have been on a downward turn caused by multiple injuries, losing four of their last five games. But Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen and his team know they can salvage a non-losing season, and a bowl bid to boot, by winning another game at Carter-Finley Stadium, as they did in 2003 to secure their first-ever trip to the Orange Bowl.
“It’s something that the kids really want and it kind of marks whether you’ve been successful or not,” Friedgen said. “And that’s why I want it, for the players more than anything else. I want them to feel that kind of success because they deserve it and because of all the adversity that they’ve faced.
“A bowl would be a rewarding season for them.”
And that’s what both teams will be fighting for.
You may contact Tim Peeler at email@example.com.