Terrapins Seeking 10-Win Regular Season
Posted November 16, 2001
RALEIGH — When Ralph Friedgen says the ball has bounced the right way for No. 10 Maryland this year he really means it.
Heading into their regular-season finale Saturday night against North Carolina State, the Terrapins (9-1, 6-1 ACC) have forced a remarkable 32 turnovers. The figure ranks second in the nation and is almost as stunning as the team's turnaround under its first-year coach.
"Some of the breaks we have gotten we have created," said Friedgen, who has Maryland in the Top 10 for the first time since 1985. "We have 23 interceptions. Some people go four years without that many interceptions. It seems like when things are going right for you everything goes right."
Maryland is four interceptions shy of the Atlantic Coast Conference record of 27 set by Virginia in 1994.
The turnover game should be something interesting to watch as the Terrapins try to win the ACC title outright and snap Florida State's nine-year reign.
The Wolfpack (6-3, 4-3) are 11th in the nation in turnover margin, coughing the ball up just 11 times in nine games. And quarterback Philip Rivers has thrown just 16 picks in 740 career attempts.
"That quarterback is very accurate and very dangerous," Friedgen said of Rivers, who has thrown for 2,090 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2001.
Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato, whose team upset Florida State last week, said another big-time game will be good for his team.
"This team has done something that no other ACC team has ever done, and that's win a game against Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium," Amato said. "We get another opportunity this week to do something we can be proud of and that's beat the co-champions of the ACC. I'd rather it be this way, playing another nationally ranked team right away."
Many N.C. State players still are upset about blowing a 21-6 halftime lead at Maryland last season, losing 35-28 in overtime.
"We really felt we had that game under control," Wolfpack running back Ray Robinson said. "But things didn't go our way. That was a real disappointing loss there. That took a lot out of us."
After starting 3-3 this year, the Wolfpack have won three straight and could end up in the Gator Bowl with wins over Maryland and Ohio.
"We don't have any time to celebrate right now," Amato said. "We have to find ways to come down some. Three weeks ago, everyone was writing this team off. Now we're bowl eligible and we have a chance to get seven or eight wins."
N.C. State All-American linebacker Levar Fisher is gearing up for Maryland's best shot.
Friedgen "must be a great coach. He's said a lot of things to those guys they must believe in," Fisher said. "They feel they're unbeatable right now. They're going to come down here motivated and they're going to be ready. So are we."