TALLAHASSEE, FLA. — TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State is ranked No. 6 in the country, and is playing Maryland today in front of a homecoming crowd of 70,000 at Doak-Campbell Stadium. The partisan crowd is expected to participate a lot in the "Seminole War Chant" because Florida State is favored by 27 points.
One might think the Terps (2-7 overall, 1-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) would be a little intimidated.
"You punch the clock at about the same time every week no matter who you play," said Mike Jarmolowich, Maryland's senior linebacker. "The chanting, the Seminole on horseback, it all means nothing when the game starts. So what if it's their homecoming? It's going to be warm and a great day for an upset."
Maryland first-year coach Mark Duffner said: "The crowd is going to be pumped, and this team is traditionally one of the best in the country. I'm going to love the enthusiasm of the game. What a great way for us to make a name for ourselves."
It might sound cocky if such talk came from any team except Maryland. But that's the way Duffner prepares his teams. They believe they can beat anybody.
But belief is one thing, and reality is another. This game seems to be a total mismatch.
Maryland is at the bottom of the ACC. Florida State (7-1, 7-0) has already won the league title. The Seminoles are a traditional power. Duffner is just beginning to rebuild at Maryland. Florida State is nearly three deep at every position. The Terps have virtually no depth.
And here's the biggest difference: speed.
"Their athleticism sets them apart from all but about five schools in the country," said Duffner. "Darn right I'm concerned about it. They can make plays out of virtually nothing."
Duffner was alluding to Seminoles quarterback Charlie Ward, who has completed 133 of 254 passes for 1,701 yards and 13 touchdowns, and rushed for 278 yards.
When the Seminoles need a big play, Ward usually makes it. When Florida State was trailing Georgia Tech, 21-7, in the fourth period three weeks ago, Ward directed drives of 80, 80 and 45 yards to pull out a 29-24 win.
Last Saturday, Ward completed a 27-yard touchdown pass and ran 16 yards for another score in the Seminoles' 13-3 victory at Virginia.
Florida State is averaging 408 yards of offense.
"Control Ward, and your chances of winning improve dramatically," said Frank Wycheck, Maryland's junior slot receiver.
Florida State's speed on defense also could cause Maryland's run-and-shoot offense problems. The Terps have not encountered a team that plays as much man-to-man, jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage.
The Terps are expected to shorten their patterns and use the passes for ball-control purposes.
Maryland is third in the country in passing, averaging 319 yards, but Florida State is 10th in total defense, allowing only 280 yards per game -- only 169 passing.
"This is homecoming week and it's going to be a great week to come home to Florida State," said Seminoles outside linebacker Reggie Freeman. "There will be no letting up against Maryland, or anyone else, for the rest of the year. We have achieved one goal of winning the conference title. We had another of going unbeaten in the conference."