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Terps roll to a bowl

The Baltimore Sun

RALEIGH, N.C. -- All week leading up to yesterday's game with North Carolina State, Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen bemoaned the Terps' collective misfortune this season with missed assignments here, bad bounces there and enough injuries to keep a MASH unit in business for years.

However, for one chilly afternoon, the Terps got seemingly every possible piece of good luck to go along with perhaps their most complete team effort of the season in a convincing 37-0 blitzing of the Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium.

Afterward, a pleased if not dazed Friedgen reveled in the team's first shutout since 2003 and first blanking of an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent in 11 years that not only made the Terps a .500 team but also qualified them for a bowl.

"We played well in all aspects: offense, defense and special teams," Friedgen said. "I'm really proud of our players and the way they hung together this year. I wanted them to win this game very badly, for them. I've never been around a bunch of guys who hung in there no matter what the odds and what things looked like. It's great to have a chance to go to a bowl game and to play well in a very big game."

Before yesterday, the game's winner was considered to be a candidate for the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho, on Dec. 31 or the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco on Dec. 28. However, Friedgen said the Terps (6-6, 3-5 ACC) also might be in the mix for the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 29 in Charlotte, N.C., where they likely would meet a Big East Conference opponent.

Friedgen said the Terps' bowl destination would become clearer after the ACC championship game Saturday and the eight bowls that have ACC tie-ins establish their preferences.

Friedgen need only make sure that bowl representatives get tapes from yesterday's game, during which Maryland dominated favored N.C. State (5-7, 3-5) in every way, handing the Wolfpack its first shutout in 150 games, dating to 1995.

Defensively, the Terps mixed coverages and blitz packages nicely, holding N.C. State to 250 yards of total offense while permitting it only one third-down conversion, which came on a fourth-quarter drive with Maryland already ahead by 37 points.

The Wolfpack, which saw Maryland rush for a season-high 249 yards, could muster only 10 net rushing yards and had the ball for just 22 minutes.

"We played a little tight [early] because we knew that a bowl game was at stake," said junior linebacker Dave Philistin, who had eight tackles and a key first-quarter interception and 43-yard return, which helped set up Maryland's first score, a 30-yard field goal. "Two years ago, we needed a win to go to a bowl game, and we didn't get it. I'm glad we came through with a win."

Meanwhile, the Terps' offense was as efficient as it had been all season, converting eight times in 16 tries on third down. Maryland converted seven times in the red zone, only failing when backup quarterback Jordan Steffy took a knee on the game's final play.

Sophomore quarterback Chris Turner, who was benched briefly in the previous week's loss to Florida State, responded with an impressive effort, completing 19 of 24 passes for 206 yards. He also had a 41-yard run -- the third longest of the season by any Maryland back -- on the Terps' first touchdown drive.

"You're not going to have a good season without a little bit of luck," Turner said. "We had some [yesterday], but we played well. We earned our luck."

And a bowl game to boot.


Bowling with the Terps

Maryland is likely to be invited to one of these three bowls:

Bowl Date, time Site Opponent conference

Emerald Dec. 28, 8:30 p.m. San Francisco Pacific-10

Meineke Car Care Dec. 29, 1 p.m. Charlotte, N.C. Big East

Humanitarian Dec. 31, 2 p.m. Boise, Idaho Western Athletic

College football inside

No. 3 Missouri hands No. 2 Kansas first loss

Chase Daniel passes for 361 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Tigers to a 36-28 victory, possibly leaving Missouri one victory from the national title game. PG 6D


No. 19 Tennessee recovers after blowing a 17-point lead to defeat Kentucky, 52-50, in four overtimes and win the SEC East crown. PG 6D

Tyrod Taylor's two TDs help No. 8 Virginia Tech beat No. 16 Virginia, 33-21, to gain a spot in the ACC title game. PG 7D

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