TALLAHASSEE -- Good Monday morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are back for the start of one more week in this regular season. Can you believe it? The year is almost done. After this week's ACC finale, Florida State has just one more game. And, a good case could be made that it won't just be the Seminoles' biggest game of the season; it could be the biggest in the series in nearly a decade.
OK, we all know that we're talking about Florida, one of the three other BCS teams who share this state's borders with the Seminoles. Chances are high that after this weekend, the Gators will come to Tallahassee on Thanksgiving weekend sporting a 10-1 record. The Seminoles, too, should have a 10-1 record. With the ACC's Atlantic Division all tied up and a possible berth to the Orange Bowl in the conference championship held a week later, FSU will be trying to give their rival a non-conference loss that could be a blow to its postseason resume.
The Seminoles, meanwhile, are looking for a win in that game that could continue to bolster their own. For a win over the Gators, followed by another in the ACC Championship game could keep them relevant in the periphery of other BCS bowl games; depending upon how the standings and teams above them shake out in the next few weeks. While an appearance in the national title game and BCS Sugar Bowl are scenarios that likely are heading out of the window for FSU, they haven't yet been completely thrown out it.
But, in order for that hope to be sustained, the Seminoles have to win their next three games. ...
Including the one on Saturday.
While it may be fun right now for reporters and fans alike to break down and dissect and project every possible postseason scenario the Seminoles could find themselves in, for the players themselves, the talk is far too premature. Even talk about looking ahead to the ACC Championship game is premature. As of now, the Seminoles don't even have a spot in that game.
Looking ahead to next week's matchup against Florida is too soon for them, too.
Because for now, the Maryland Terrapins are calling.
Nine days after visiting Blacksburg, Va. and coming back and holding on for a narrow 28-22 win over the host Hokies, the Seminoles are making another trip up the Atlantic Coast. This time, they will venture just outside Washington, D.C. to College Park, Md., where they will meet a Maryland team that has had one of the more difficult seasons a team anywhere has had to endure in quite a long time.
The Terrapins have a decent defense. They rank 16th in the country in total defense. It kept them in and won games early in the season.
But it has been their offense that has been the problem. Injuries across the unit have decimated it to the point that two weeks ago, the Terrapins inserted a former walk-on linebacker in at starting quarterback. Shawn Petty was called upon to replace four other signal-callers who went down with season-ending injuries.
It has been a rough road since for once-promising Maryland. Well on its way to a seven- and eight-win regular season, the Terrapins sit two likely losses shy of having a 4-8, bowl-less season. On the heels of last year's two-win showing, 4-8 wasn't what embattled coach Randy Edsall had in mind.
With those story lines serving as the backdrop, we begin the rest of this Week 12 look at FSU's next opponent: the Maryland Terrapins.
If you've been following along all season, you know these "Getting to know" blogs can be quite lengthy each week. We like to give stats, players to watch and just an overall good glimpse into the team the Seminoles are set to face.
Something we also like to do with these posts is to provide you with a group of newspaper reporters you MUST follow throughout the week for the latest information from the other side in the lead-up to Saturday's game.
Like Virginia Tech, Maryland has a rather extensive group of newspapers that continue to cover it. Below are three beat writers you'll definitely want to pay attention to in the next few days.
We start with Jeff Barker, the Baltimore Sun's lead reporter on the Maryland beat. Like the Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Sun is owned by Tribune Company. Since the football season hasn't gone so well and its basketball team is coming off a trip to the new Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. (where FSU is heading later this weekend), the Maryland beat is seeing itself devoted a little more to hoops. Still, there's some good football coverage mixed in there. Jeff will be a solid follow this week on Twitter @sunjeffbarker.
Continuing on, we pay a visit to friend of the program Patrick Stevens. A longtime mid-Atlantic sports scribe, Patrick knows the Terps, Midshipmen, Hoyas, Patriots (and so many more) like the back of his hand. Patrick covers several different teams for the Washington Times, but devotes the largest chunk of his duties to the Terrapins. Make sure you follow him on Twitter @D1scourse.
Finally, check out the Washington Post's solid Maryland coverage by Alex Prewitt. Like the others on the beat, Prewitt does great work keeping track of the Terrapins' every move -- as cautious and careful as they have to be now. Alex is on Twitter @TerpsInsider.