NC State (4-2) at Maryland (4-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 20, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Byrd Stadium (54,000) -- College Park, Maryland. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: NC State 3-0, Maryland 2-1. Away Record: NC State 1-0, Maryland 2-1. Neutral Record: NC State 0-1, Maryland 0-0. Conference Record: NC State 1-1, Maryland 2-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 32-32-4.
GAME NOTES: For the first time since its shocking win over then No. 3 Florida State, the NC State Wolfpack will hit the field when they invade Byrd Stadium for an Atlantic Coast Conference bout with the Maryland Terrapins.
Trailing 16-0 heading into the fourth quarter, NC State put up 17 unanswered fourth-quarter points to pull out a miraculous 17-16 win on its home field against the Seminoles. The win has reinvigorated the Wolfpack who were coming off a 44-37 loss to Miami in its only other ACC matchup. Overall NC State has won four of its last five games.
It may surprise some that Maryland is currently undefeated (2-0) in ACC play after a 27-20 win over Virginia last weekend. The Terrapins went just 1-7 in league play last season and had not won a conference game since opening weekend of the 2011 season. It is the first time the Terps have begun conference play at 2-0 since 2001.
Since 2000, Maryland has won eight of 12 meetings with NC State to pull the all-time series even 32-32-4. The Terps have also won three straight in College Park. Last season NC State was on the winning side, collecting a 56-41 win in Raleigh.
Mike Glennon deserves a bulk of the credit for NC State's comeback win against Florida State. The Wolfpack quarterback orchestrated each of the squad's touchdowns, including the game-winning two-yard toss with 16 seconds remaining in regulation. Glennon has been solid overall this season, completing 60.2 percent of his pass attempts for 1,681 yards and 12 touchdowns, although his seven interceptions are less than ideal.
Quintin Payton has been Glennon's favorite target this season and has developed into a dangerous deep threat. Payton has reeled in 25 passes, for 500 yards for an average of 20.0 yards per reception. Tobais Palmer has 20 receptions, but only 218 yards as the second leading receiver. Bryan Underwood has been most dangerous in the red zone, with seven touchdown receptions, including the game-winner against Florida State.
NC State is in the middle of the conference in rushing offense, averaging 145.3 yards per game. Tony Creecy (284 yards) and Shadrach Thornton (261) are the two main ball carriers.
Surprisingly NC State has been the worst team in the ACC in terms of stopping the pass. The Wolfpack surrendered 268.5 yards through the air a game which comes despite the return of All-American cornerback David Amerson and a skilled secondary. NC State has made up for it by limiting teams in scoring (20.5 ppg) and on the ground (114.3 ypg), which are both the fourth best marks in the ACC.
Amerson has still played well this season, collecting three interceptions and six passes defended which are both team highs. Brandan Bishop (47) and Earl Wolff (44) are the team leaders in tackles, while Rickey Dowdy (8.0 tackles for loss) has been disruptive in opposing backfields.
Maryland is the worst offensive team in the conference with league-lows in scoring (21.3 ppg) and total offense (267.5 ypg). The major weakness of the squad is picking up yards on the ground, with the Terps managing only 428 rushing yards this season which is almost 200 yards fewer than the second worst team in the conference. (Boston College 620).
Without much of a run game., freshman Perry Hills has added pressure to put up yards through the air. The Terps are the second-worst passing offense in the ACC, with Hills averaging only 196.2 yards per game. He has completed 57 percent of his passes, with eight touchdowns to go with six interceptions.
Fellow freshman Stefon Diggs has been a reliable target and a dangerous deep threat, averaging 21.6 yards per reception. He has totaled team-highs in receptions (21), yards (453) and touchdowns (three). Marcus Leak (299 yards) is the only other receiver with more than 150 yards receiving on the season.
Maryland has found ways to win with its defense. The Terps are the second ranked squad in the ACC in terms of total defense (278.7), while ranking just behind that in scoring defense (third at 20.3 ppg). Maryland is tied for the conference lead in sacks and is allowing teams to score on only 75 percent of their red zone attempts.
At the center of the defense both figuratively and literally is defensive tackle Joe Vellano. The senior All-ACC performer has racked up a team-leading 11.0 tackles for loss, while ranking second in tackles (37) and sacks (3.0). Vellano has even collected one of only three interceptions by the Terps. Darin Drakeford (31 tackles, 4.5 sacks) and Demetrius Hartsfield (51 tackles, 4.5 for loss) have also been consistent contributors.
Maryland's defense has made up for its offensive deficiencies. NC State already proved it can slow down one of the conference's best offenses and with the Wolfpack having more offensive punch, another conference win should be within reach.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: NC State 24, Maryland 20
10/17 10:54:40 ET