Maryland vs North Carolina State

Maryland North Carolina State

It’s hard to know what gets the most anticipation for Duke’s Mayo Bowl. Is it the two teams? Or is it knowing that one of the two head coaches is going to get dumped with a bucket of mayonnaise as his team wins? As we get two teams that have a long history against each other, we will focus on the teams and worry about the other later. Maryland vs North Carolina State gives us plenty to talk about.

With Maryland once having been a member of the ACC, the Terps and the Wolfpack have a history with each other. The all-time record is 33-33-4. Someone takes the lead this Friday.

Duke’s Mayo Bowl

Maryland (7-5) vs NC State (8-4)

Friday, December 30th; 12pm eastern

Bank of America Stadium; Charlotte, NC

Maryland Terrapins

The Terps are in the midst of rejuvenation under head coach Mike Locksley. While 14-11 over the last two years may not seem revolutionary, Maryland has a clear path. This year they beat the teams, they were expected to beat, and they pushed the others, (they lost by only a touchdown to Michigan). The Terps are bringing their biggest offensive weapon with them. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa will be playing in the bowl game. In 11 games this season, he threw for 2,787 yards, 17 touchdowns, and six interceptions. The question this weekend is to whom will he be throwing. Wide receivers  Rakim Jarrett, Dontay Demus, and Jacob Copeland have all opted out.

They are averaging 29.2 points per game as they have become competitive week in and week out. The numbers are good enough for fourth place in the strong Big 10 East.

The defense still needs a lot of work. Maryland is 52nd in the country in total defense. They are giving up five yards a play on the way to yielding 362 yards per game. And they are going to be missing starter cornerback Deonte Banks who has opted out of the bowl before entering the NFL draft, as well as linebacker Ahmad McCullough who went into the transfer portal.

NC State Wolfpack

Head coach Dave Doeren is looking forward to a bowl game, any bowl game. Last year the Wolfpack got to travel to the west coast for the Holiday Bowl in San Diego only to have UCLA parachute out the day of the game because of a Covid outbreak on the team.

While he is happy to be playing in nearby Charlotte, he likely wishes he could have some of his regular players in the lineup. All-conference quarterback Devin Leary only appeared in six games because of injuries. He was unlikely to be able to play in the bowl game and then opted out on top of that. He is transferring to Kentucky when the season is over. Who plays quarterback is a bit of a mystery leading into the game. M.J. Morris was the primary fill-in when Leary went down, but he is also injured. If he can’t go, next in line is Ben Finley who played the final two games of the season. He is the brother of Ryan Finley who was a three-year starter at NC State and a fourth-round NFL draft pick in 2019.

Morris threw 86 passes in five appearances this season. He had 648 yards, seven touchdowns, and one interception. Finley was essentially the fourth string before injuries struck. He had 643 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions in two games.

NC State’s defense is twelfth in the country against the run. Their propensity to blitz the passing game has them shutting down running lanes as a side benefit. And the blitzes come with a lot of motion in different directions so they are harder to pick up.

NC State was thought to be a contender for the division championship before the season started. But they lost to Clemson, Boston College, and Louisville. Coupled with injuries to critical players, that was that for ACC title hopes.

One more departure of note for the Wolfpack. Offensive coordinator Tim Beck is the new head coach at Coastal Carolina. NC State has hired Syracuse assistant coach Robert Anae to fill the role, but he will not be coaching in the bowl game.