The Maryland Terrapins entered their game last Saturday night against the Florida State Seminoles knowing that the North Carolina State Wolfpack had already beaten the North Carolina Tar Heels 29-25. They also knew that a win over the Seminoles would make next week’s game against the Wolfpack a winner-take-all affair for the Atlantic Division title. They also knew that prosepective matchup against the Wolfpack would be at home, just like this game against Florida State. And for two and a half quarters, the goals were all within reach. However, crucial mistakes and turnovers would prove to be the Terps undoing, and with the 30-16 loss to the Seminoles, a good season couldn’t quite become a great one. Still, the season represents a great turnaround for the Terrapins, who can still play spoiler next week for the Wolfpack.
The game next week will still determine who wins the Atlantic Division; it just doesn’t have an impact for Maryland. A Maryland win sends Florida State to Charlotte to play in the ACC Championship game against the Virginia Tech Hokies, who won the Coastal Division with a 31-17 win over Miami. If North Carolina State can win Saturday’s game in College Park, it will be the Wolfpack facing the Hokies in the Championship game. For Florida State and coach Jimbo Fisher, it represents a good first step in bringing the Seminoles back to prominence, at least in conference play. For North Carolina State, it represents a major step for a team that has never finished better than third in the Atlantic Division and has finished last in the division three out of last four years.
Elsewhere, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Boston College all became bowl eligible by defeating Duke, Wake Forest and Virginia respectively. The victories give the conference nine bowl eligible teams. If all of the teams find slots in bowl games, which appears likely, it will give the conference nine opportunities to win games against non-conference competition. A good showing in bowl games may improve the perception that the ACC isn’t nationally relevant. But those games are weeks away, with opponents yet to be determined.
There are four non-conference games that match the ACC against the mighty SEC this weekend. The Seminoles host the Florida Gators, who have beaten Florida State six straight times. If ever Florida State could get off the schneid, this weekend could be the time. Clemson will be underdogs against the SEC Eastern division winning Gamecocks of South Carolina, even if the game is being played in Death Valley. Georgia Tech will also be underdogs against the Bulldogs of Georgia, particularly playing on the road in Athens. And in a battle of cellar dwellers Wake Forest takes on Vanderbilt. The Big East offers two opponents to ACC teams-the Syracuse Orange will host the Eagles of Boston College, and the Hurricanes will host the Bulls of South Florida. Finally, two rivalry games finish out the last week of the season as North Carolina takes on the Duke Blue Devils and Virginia takes on the Hokies, currently on a nine-game winning streak.