North Carolina State is coming off a bye week in which they had to feel spectacular about themselves. After all, the last time they were on the field the Wolfpack was celebrating a win over a Florida State team that was ranked 3rd in the country. The win put State in control of its own destiny; if they can win out then they will win the ACC’s Atlantic Division. Their potential march to glory starts today with a game against a surprising Maryland team.
The Terrapins are currently 4-2 (2-0 in ACC play) and are in first place in the Atlantic. Maryland’s success has been a surprise, considering they have dealt with a rash of injuries on offense. The offense has simply been able to do just enough to win games, but the real reason that the Terps are enjoying this early season success is because of their defense and special teams.
Maryland’s defense is ranked 33rd in the nation in scoring defense giving up an average 20.3 points per game. If it wasn’t for the Terps defense, Maryland may have lost every one of their first six games. The other part to the Terrapins winning equation is the special teams, more specifically Stefon Diggs.
It was considered a major coup when Diggs (a 5-star recruit) committed to Maryland. Since that moment the true freshman has been nothing short of extraordinary. He is the Terrapins leading receiver on offense and is one of the best return men in the ACC. He is averaging just over 30 yards per return on kickoffs and just under 11 yards per return on punts.
These are the things that NC State must keep under control if they are to beat Maryland. They certainly have the personnel to take on such a challenge. All-American corner David Amerson will probably be lining up opposite Diggs for most of the day. Amerson hasn’t been as good in 2012 as he was last year when he led the country in interceptions, but he is still one of the best corners in the ACC. He has the ability to frustrate opposing offenses, and he will have to do that against Diggs today if the Wolfpack is to win this game.
As for the Terps’ defense, NC State has an answer for that to. The best offense Maryland has faced this year is West Virginia; the Terps were able to hold the Mountaineers to 31 points. State is the second best offense that Maryland will face to this point in the season. Mike Glennon appears to be getting into a groove at this point in the season, and when he is on his game it is tough to stop the Wolfpack’s offense.
I think that NC State should win this game. If they can avoid giving up a big special teams play to Diggs then the Pack should be in good shape. Maryland can’t score on a regular basis and I think that if State can score 21 points that will be enough to get a win on the road.