There were concerns before Maryland's regular season finale against N.C. State that the Terrapins - who were playing with next to nothing on the line and on the rebound from a heart-breaking loss to Florida State - wouldn't show up for the game emotionally. After the Wolfpack jumped out to a 14-0 lead, those fears seemed right.
Well, at least for a quarter. Then Torrey Smith happened.
The Terrapins answered N.C. State's two early touchdowns with 24 consecutive points of their own. Danny O'Brien and Torrey Smith connected for four touchdowns, O'Brien threw for 409 yards (the most since Scott Milanovich in the early 1990s), and Maryland won on senior day, 38-31. The Terrapins' win knocked the Wolfpack out of the ACC title picture and instead sent FSU to Charlotte to play Virginia Tech. UMD is now 8-4 on the year, just a season after going 2-10.
It's worth noting that N.C. State made a late comeback to make the game closer than it had to be late. Maryland was up by as many as 21 late in the fourth quarter, but the Wolfpack and Russell Wilson scored two late TDs to cut the score to its final 7-point margin. Maryland needed a highly controversial spot on a 4th down conversion to seal it. Though the final few minutes were scary and exposed Maryland's weakness as a young team that is still learning how to finish, this game wasn't nearly as close as the score at the end.
Back to the positive stuff: there's been talk the past few days about Smith potentially going pro after the season; if he does, this would essentially be his senior day. If it is, what a senior day it was. He made quite the statement to the scouts, with a record-setting performance of 14 catches for 224 yards and four TDs.
Those four TDs, if you're wondering, are a Maryland record. Heck, he even looked pretty solid on kick returns for the first time all year. He was nothing short of outstanding and had a few amazing plays, including a 71-yard touchdown and a 35-yard run-and-catch that included a few broken tackles and kickstarted Maryland's first touchdown scoring drive. Torrey was the brightest spot in a game filled with them. His performance reached legendary levels.
Meanwhile, Danny O'Brien was nothing short of fantastic himself. He too hit a bunch of career highs, topping 400 passing yards and hitting Smith for four TDs. Maryland had no running game to speak of, instead relying heavily on O'Brien, who threw 30 passes in the first half and 47 in the game. He did a good job of escaping pressure on multiple occasions and did a great job of finding open receivers. He was bailed out by a few really nice catches and missed a couple of deep throws, but considering how many times he threw the ball, he was great.
Three of his TD passes to Smith - a bomb, a fade, and a strike on the run - were completely pro-level throws. He was composed, poised, and showcased both his arm strength and his This was the best performance by a Maryland QB since Scott McBrien, and maybe even longer.
Maryland's defense was solid, especially considering they were going up against Russell Wilson and a generally prolific offense. They held the Pack in check the middle two quarters and, more importantly, forced two big turnovers that helped turn the tide of the game after N.C. State scored twice. The Wolfpack made the game close late and Maryland's defense started to lose focus, but they were good when it mattered.
The only big problem of the game came in the running game. Actually, that's being too kind: there was no running game. They had -11 yards on the ground. That's right: negative yardage. A grand total of 11 total attempts really didn't help things. But when Maryland's throwing the ball like they were today, I can stand it.
In the end, there's no one else to talk about other than Torrey Smith and Danny O'Brien. The day was theirs. Even though Maryland was playing for nothing more than pride, it was one of the most entertaining, satisfying games I've ever watched.