RALEIGH, N.C. -- Their records have little in common, but Maryland and North Carolina State have a lot on the line today.
Maryland (1-8, 1-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) needs a victory at N.C. State's Carter-Finley Stadium or at Wake Forest next week to avoid the first 10-loss season in its history.
N.C. State, meanwhile, is ruing last week's 21-20 loss to Duke, which, five days after Blue Devils coach Barry Wilson announced he'd be resigning at the end of the season, put the Wolfpack's sixth straight bowl bid on hold.
N.C. State (6-3, 3-3) still could end up in a bowl, but the Wolfpack could have left no doubt by beating Duke and Maryland.
"If it [the Duke loss] had eliminated us from bowl contention, I'd be worried about our attitude," coach Mike O'Cain said. "From the end of June, this team has faced tremendous adversity. They've had to deal with a coaching change, numerous injuries and being down 10 to 21 points in the fourth quarter several times."
The Wolfpack strung together wins over Texas Tech, Marshall, Georgia Tech and Virginia by a combined 19 points, then saw their comeback from a 21-0 deficit at Duke fall short with an incomplete conversion pass.
O'Cain, 39, quarterbacked Clemson from 1974 to 1976 and was a Wolfpack assistant the past seven years. He was named N.C. State's coach June 29, the same day Dick Sheridan unexpectedly resigned.
Junior Geoff Bender, the starting quarterback in the first four games, rallied the Wolfpack in relief last week, but sophomore Terry Harvey, who has passed for 1,437 yards, most likely will get the call for the sixth straight time.
Junior Steve Videtich has made eight of nine field-goal attempts and 22 of 24 conversion tries, percentages Maryland considers wistfully.
Shortcomings in the kicking game have been a constant for the Terps, who haven't made a field goal since Sept. 18, Ken Lytle's 25-yarder against West Virginia. There should be an asterisk next to the 12 occasions in the past four games in which they've come up empty after moving inside the opponent's 20-yard line. Coach Mark Duffner has admitted that field goals are no longer an option for the Terps.
The third in a lengthy series of personnel losses devastated the Terps' kicking game in August, when discrepancies were found in junior-college All-American Lonny Calicchio's transcript and he wasn't admitted. His absence had a severe impact on a young team that needed everything to go right to have a successful season.
Lytle won the kicking job by default, and missed two second-quarter field-goal attempts in the opener against Virginia, a game that was tied entering the final 10 minutes. He was 0-for-3 at Virginia Tech and replaced by walk-on John Milligan, who had first-half misses at Georgia Tech and Clemson, games in which the Terps played well for three quarters before collapsing.
Maryland scored three touchdowns against Florida State last week, and had two other drives come up short, the first in what Duffner termed a "no-brainer," a situation that begged for a field goal. The Terps drove 68 yards before incompletions on third and fourth down from the Seminoles' 8-yard line.
"It really takes some of the wind out of your sails when you go on a great drive like that, but don't get any points," sophomore quarterback Scott Milanovich said. "You come to the sideline with nothing, and it gives the other team that much more momentum."
Kicking was also a Terps' weakness last year, when then-freshman Dave DeArmas was booed for his long-range shortcomings. DeArmas was 7-for-7 from 20 to 29 yards, however. He transferred to Connecticut earlier this year and finally won the Huskies' kicking job two weeks ago. He made a career-long 40-yard field goal against Rhode Island last week, and has hit all eight of his conversion kicks.