GAME NOTES: A Top 25 matchup is on tap in the Atlantic Coast Conference, as the eighth-ranked Florida State Seminoles play host to the surprising 25th- ranked Maryland Terrapins.
Jimbo Fisher's Seminoles were supposed to be undefeated at this point in the season and have not disappointed, as they look to successfully defend their ACC title. Behind the play of one of the most exciting freshmen in the nation, FSU has knocked off Pittsburgh (41-13), Nevada (62-7), Bethune-Cookman (54-6) and most recently, Boston College (48-34). Last week's victory over the Eagles was the eighth straight for Florida State against ACC foes, dating back to last year.
Randy Edsall's Terrapins will attempt to end FSU's win streak, while extending their own. Thoughts of an undefeated season heading into October play were few and far between in College Park heading into the 2013 campaign. The Terps opened the season with blowout wins over FIU (43-10) and Old Dominion (47-10). The team's lone road trip to this point resulted in a 32-21 victory at Connecticut, followed by the team's most impressive win of the season, a 37-0 shutout of rival West Virginia on Sept. 21. Maryland has had some extra time to prepare for the Seminoles, sitting idle last weekend.
Florida State has won six straight over Maryland and has dominated the series all-time with a record of 21-2, including a perfect 11-0 mark in Tallahassee. Maryland's last win in the series came in 2006 in College Park (20-14).
With all the quarterback woes that Maryland suffered through in 2012, it was no wonder the team struggled to produce wins. The 2013 campaign has been a completely different story thanks to the health of C.J. Brown. The dual threat signal caller currently leads a balanced offense that is churning out just under 500 yards per game, with a good mix of the run (226.8 ypg) and the pass (271.8 ypg).
Brown has been superb, dominating with both his arm and legs. He has completed 66.7 percent of his passes, for 1,043 yards, with seven touchdowns and just one interception. Brown is also averaging 6.3 yards per carry and is averaging just over 70 yards per game rushing. He is also responsible for six of the team's nine rushing scores on the season.
Other playmakers on the offensive side of the football include tailback Brandon Ross (332 yards, 83.0 ypg, two TDs) and standout wideout Stefon Diggs (18 receptions, 400 yards, three TDs). Fellow WR Deon Long (21 catches, 271 yards, one TD) is a viable second option in the passing attack.
As good as the offense has been for Maryland, it is the defense that has really shocked its opponents. The Terrapins rank third in the nation in scoring defense (10.2 ppg), 13th in rush defense (98.5 ypg), 14th in pass defense (165.3 ypg) and sixth in total defense (263.8 ypg). In addition, this big play unit has recorded 17 sacks and 13 takeaways, including eight interceptions.
Linebacker L.A. Goree has taken over as a defensive leader. The junior has recorded a team-high 26 tackles, with one sack and one forced fumble. Fellow junior LB Cole Farrand is a close second in total stops with 25 tackles. Senior LB Marcus Whitfield (18 tackles) paces the team in both TFL (6.5) and sacks (5.5), while senior DB Dexter McDougle has been a ball hawk in the secondary with three interceptions thus far.
Maryland's defense has been up to the task thus far, but will be facing its toughest test to date with Florida State and freshman phenom Jameis Winston. The Seminoles are averaging 51.2 ppg this year (fourth nationally), moving the ball at will both on the ground (239.5 ypg) and through the air (293.2 ypg), resulting in 540.3 ypg (10th nationally).