N.C. State can't wait to get at Maryland

'Pack badly wants to end Terps' 4-year domination

ACC notebook

College Football

October 14, 2004|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

In the past four years, no opponent has frustrated North Carolina State more than Maryland. That's not an opinion as much as a fact. The Wolfpack will admit as much.

Four straight times, N.C. State has appeared to have the Terps on the ropes, and four straight times, Maryland has rallied in the fourth quarter for a stunning, last-second victory.

It drives the Wolfpack players mad. It makes their fans even angrier. The frustration boiled over last year in Raleigh when the teams exchanged trash talk and had to be physically separated after the Terps' 24-21 win.

When Maryland players tried to make their way across the field to sing the school's fight song, scores of N.C. State fans showed their frustration by hurling bottles onto the field after the game, the final home game for Wolfpack quarterback Philip Rivers.

Rivers finished his career as the Atlantic Coast Conference's all-time top passer, but as Maryland fans love to point out, he was 0-4 against the Terps, the only ACC team he didn't defeat in his outstanding career.

"This is a huge game for us," said N.C. State quarterback Jay Davis, who replaced Rivers this year. "They're kind of like our out-of-state rival, I guess you could say. They've beat us the last four years. When you're 0-4 against a team, it certainly puts a feeling in your gut you don't like."

The Wolfpack won't go so far as to say Maryland has a psychological advantage over them, but when asked this week if they felt like the Terps were the New York Yankees and N.C. State was the Boston Red Sox in this rivalry, some players reluctantly agreed.

"I'm a Red Sox fan, so hopefully the curse will come off for both of us this year," Davis said.

"I do feel like I'm the Red Sox in this series," said Wolfpack safety Troy Graham. "But I have a feeling we're going to bounce back and surprise a lot of people. When we do, it's going to be a sight to see."

Around the league

Maryland: Coach Ralph Friedgen said yesterday that he'll be "extremely disappointed" if his team doesn't bounce back and play well after last week's loss to Georgia Tech.

He gave no further indication how much he plans to stick with quarterback Joel Statham against N.C. State, but said he believes in the sophomore, and that he's not going to put extra pressure on him by getting on him in practice.

"I'm going to keep my mouth shut and let him play," Friedgen said. "Maybe I tighten him up. I don't know. ... I'm not giving up on this kid, though, after four games. I wouldn't want him to give up on me, because I didn't do a very good job coaching him."

Friedgen said if center Kyle Schmitt (concussion) can't play Saturday, he will be comfortable using backup Ryan McDonald. Freshman Andrew Crummey also has been playing some center this week in practice. Schmitt, a senior, has started 18 straight games at center.

Florida State: Plenty of people will be paying close attention to what happens in Tallahassee, Fla., this weekend as No. 6 Virginia and No. 7 Florida State clash on ESPN. It will mark just the sixth time in ACC history that two teams in the top 10 will play each other.

Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden said he thinks Virginia (5-0) has looked as good as any team in the country, and he can't help but be impressed with the program Cavaliers coach Al Groh has built.

"They don't seem to have a weakness," Bowden said. "I think Al had a formula in recruiting when he got there. He said, `I want to get a tight end, then I'll go get an offensive line. Now I'll get a quarterback, then a running back and I'll get some linebackers that play the way I want.'

"If I was a poker player, which I ain't, but I used to be in college, I'd say he's coming in here with a full house."

North Carolina: John Bunting was thrilled when his Tar Heels upset N.C. State, 30-24, Saturday, and hoped the game might be the turning point for a program that has gone 16-27 the past 3 1/2 seasons.

His excitement, however, was short-lived when he learned that three of his players - receiver Adarius Bowman, linebacker Fred Sparkman and defensive tackle Isaiah Thomas - were cited for marijuana possession by campus police. All three have been suspended indefinitely.

"I can't remember a time when I was more disappointed," Bunting said.

Next for Maryland

Matchup: N.C. State (3-2, 2-1) vs. Maryland (3-2, 1-1)

Site: Byrd Stadium, College Park

When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 2, 7/WBAL (1090 AM)

Line: Maryland by 3

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