Maryland football will face No. 23 NC State in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Dec. 30 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The 41 bowl game pairings, including the College Football Playoff semifinals, were announced Sunday.
It’s the second straight bowl game appearance for Maryland (7-5, 4-5 Big Ten Conference), which beat Virginia Tech, 54-10, in last year’s Pinstripe Bowl.
After starting the season 6-2, Maryland lost three straight games to Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State. The Terps needed a 37-0 victory over Rutgers on Nov. 26 to secure seven wins in the regular season for the first time since 2014.
Maryland will be seeking its first eight-win season since 2008.
Coach Mike Locksley said he was hoping to play in Charlotte instead of other possible destinations like Phoenix or Detroit.
“We know that we had no control over where we would be invited,” Locksley said. “But there’s no doubt we had a place [in mind], which was Charlotte. I thought it would be a great fit for our football family [and] our extended families as they try to navigate the holidays, and getting down to the bowl to see their loved ones play in it. Kind of like a year ago going to New York. It’s an easy trip, but except this one, we’re going south.”
The matchup will have the Terps facing an old Atlantic Coast Conference rival. The last time Maryland squared off against NC State was the 2013 regular-season finale, a 41-21 win by the Terps in which quarterback C.J. Brown accounted for 397 yards and five touchdowns. The all-time series is tied 33-33-4.
Led by a strong defense, the Wolfpack climbed as high as No. 10 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll this season and finished 8-4 despite losing starting quarterback Devin Leary to a torn pectoral muscle in mid-October. After an upset win over North Carolina last week, they climbed to No. 23 in the final College Football Playoff rankings.
“This is an exciting matchup for us,” Locksley said. “We’ve got a history of playing some great games against NC State.”
The Duke’s Mayo Bowl might be the last time quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa wears a Maryland uniform. Tagovailoa, a redshirt junior who is draft eligible, was named second-team All-Big Ten Conference after throwing for 2,787 yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions despite battling a sprained MCL, which forced him to miss the Oct. 22 game against Northwestern.
Tagovailoa, the brother of Miami Dolphins star quarterback Tua, is Maryland’s all-time leader in career passing yards (7,658), total offensive yards (7,843) and 300-yard passing games (12). Locksley said he expects Tagovailoa to play in the bowl game, noting he has partaken in the team’s player-run practices and bowl preparation. ”I’m excited for him to continue to play in a Maryland uniform,” Locksley said.
Tagovailoa will lead the Terps against NC State without some key players on offense. Wide receivers Dontay Demus Jr. and Jacob Copeland will forgo the team’s bowl game to prepare for the 2023 NFL draft. Starting sophomore tight end CJ Dippre was one of 11 players to enter the transfer portal.
Locksley didn’t have an update on whether junior wide receiver Rakim Jarrett would opt out of playing in the bowl game. The wideout missed the regular-season finale against Rutgers with a knee injury and is also draft-eligible after totaling 1,552 yards and 10 touchdowns in three seasons.
Still, Locksley is confident in Maryland’s ability to handle the absences of several wide receivers.
“This is why we prepare our team this way,” Locksley said. “We rotate players a lot. Anybody that has seen this offense when it’s clicking knows that we go [as far as] the quarterback goes. We always have skilled guys that have the ability to make plays for us.”
Duke’s Mayo Bowl
Maryland vs. NC State
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
Friday, Dec. 30, noon
Radio: 105.7 FM