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The much anticipated Labor Day showdown with Miami is now less than three months away.  That means you can start thinking about getting together the family-favorite tailgating recipes, dusting off the old garnet and gold wardrobe, and preparing for the Saturday tradition of Florida State Football at Doak Campbell Stadium.  

Every football season brings a new air of excitement to Tallahassee.  There is nothing like the summer before a new football season.  We've all been there.  The preview magazines hit the shelves in local bookstores, the latest polo shirts and new Nike apparel becomes available, and it is impossible to get your fix of Seminole football until the beginning of the fall.  That nervous feeling sets into your body and those three months before football season seem like an eternity.  

Well we have the solution.  For the next 11 weeks, the Seminoles.com staff will preview every game for the 2009 season--starting with the Florida game and working our way through the schedule leading up to the Miami game on September 7th.   Each week, we will take a look back at memorable moments in Seminole history, give you insight on opponents and returning players, and preview each matchup as the summer progresses.  

The great thing about college football is that no one--not even those TV analysts--has a complete idea of what is going to happen this season.  Sure, most people have a good feeling that Florida State's offensive line will be one of the best units in the ACC, Dekoda Watson will lead a veteran defense along with Patrick Robinson, and Christian Ponder should have a much better grasp of the offense this season.  But the surprises and nail-biting games of a new season are what make college football the most anticipated sport of the season.  It's that time of year, Seminole fans.  Are you ready?

It wasn't even close - credit the defense with that.

Playing without starting rover Myron Rolle for most of the first half, the Florida State defenders kept Maryland scoreless as the Seminoles boasted a 21-0 advantage at halftime.

When it was all said and done, FSU had achieved a lopsided 37-3 victory over the Terrapins on their home field.

Rolle, who was late to the game after being named a Rhodes Scholar and flying from Birmingham, Ala., arrived in College Park, Md. in time to watch fellow defensive star Everette Brown wreak havoc in the Terrapin offensive backfield.

Brown finished the game with 3 ½ sacks while the defense as a whole rang up six sacks total. FSU also registered two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Toddrick Verdell and Kenny Ingram earned the two interceptions in the game.

Offensively, quarterback Christian Ponder threw for a touchdown and ran for another. He finished the game 19-of-24 for 143 yards while adding a game-high 89 yards rushing.

Preston Parker led the way in the receiving category as he nabbed a game-high eight catches for 67 yards and a score.

Interestingly enough, every player that had a big play in the win over Maryland last season - besides Ponder - is no longer on the team. That means if FSU is to win its third-straight over the Terrapins this season, somebody new must step up.

As for the history between the two, there hasn't been much for Maryland fans to be happy about through the years.

After meeting for the first time ever during the 1966 season when FSU defeated Maryland 45-21, the Seminoles proceeded to win a total of 14-straight over the Terrapins.

Eventually the Terps ended the slide and earned a 20-17 victory over FSU up in College Park during the 2004 season, the program's first ever against the Seminoles.

Since then, Maryland has picked up one more victory in the series with a nail-biting 27-24 win in 2006. But FSU wins in 2005, 2007 and last season have kept the series history strongly in the Seminoles' favor as they boast an all-time record of 17-2 against Maryland.

Alex Wujciak - Linebacker
Terrapins coach Ralph Friedgen has had his hands full this offseason replacing seven starters from last season's defense.  One player Friedgen is lucky to have back is sophomore linebacker Alex Wujciak.  Wujciak had a breakout season in 2008 and is the fifth-leading returning tackler in the country with 133 stops.  Yet the concern in College Park is the health of Wujciak, specifically the health of his knees.  After sitting out the 2007 season after injuring his knee in preseason camp, Wujciak again missed this spring while recovering from off-season knee surgery.  Fortunately for the Terps the offseason surgery wasn't as serious as the surgeries that sidelined Wujciak back in 2007.  Wujciak will be counted on to be a key contributor to the new 4-3 defense planned by first-year defensive coordinator Don Brown.  If he can return to his form from last season, Wujciak could be one of the top linebackers in the ACC for a second straight season.     

   
Da'Rel Scott - Running Back
There is one position that depth is not a problem for the Terrapins and that is in the offensive backfield.  Highlighting this group is Da'Rel Scott.  Scott is coming off of one of the best seasons in recent memory for the Terrapins having rushed for an average of 94 yards per game and earning first team all-league honors.  He also scored eight touchdowns on the season and was named the MVP of the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl after rushing for 174 yards in the win over Nevada.  But the looming question for Scott is not if he has the skills to lead the Terrapins in the backfield, but how he will adjust to a new offensive line.  Scott will be counting on an offensive line that has had to replace five of its top seven performers from a year ago.  How quickly this unit gels together will have a lot to do with the running lanes and success that Da'Rel Scott has this season. 

Offensive Starters Returning:  54% (6 of 11)
Torrey Smith (WR), Bruce Campbell (LT), Phil Costa (RG), Chris Turner (QB), Da'Rel Scott (RB), Cory Jackson (RB)

Defensive Starters Returning:  36% (4 of 11)
Travis Ivey (DL), Alex Wujciak (LB), Anthony Wiseman (DB), Terrell Skinner (DB)

Starters Lost - 54% (12 of 22)
Jamie Thomas (OL), Edwin Williams (OL), Scott Burley (OL), Dan Gronkowski (TE), Darrius Heyward-Bey (WR), Mack Frost (DL), Jeremy Navarre (DL), Trey Covington (LEO), Dave Philistin (LB), Moise Fokou (LB), Kevin Barnes (DB), Jeff Allen (DB)

Terrapins Breakdown
Head Coach: Ralph Friedgen
At Maryland: 9th year, .640 winning percentage
2008 Record: 8-5 / 4-4 / 4-1
Series Record: 17-2, Florida State
2008 Team Stats Yards NCAA Rank ACC Rank
Total Offense: 350.7 68th 3rd
Rushing Offense: 144.0 61st 4th
Passing Offense: 206.7 64th 2nd
Points Per Game: 21.8 65th 9th
Total Defense: 364.9 63rd 9th
Rushing Defense: 146.7 71st 9th
Passing Defense: 218.2 77th 10th
Points Allowed Per Game: 22.5 44th 9th

Returning Stat Leaders

Rushing: Da'Rel Scott (1,178 yards, 8 TD's)
Passing: Chris Turner (2,516 yards, 13 TD's)
Receiving: Torrey Smith (336 yards, 2 TD's)
Tackles: Alex Wukciak (133)
Sacks: Rick Costa (3.0)
INT's: Jamari McCollough (4)

Since the Seminoles and Terrapins first met in 1966, this series has been controlled by Florida State in dominating fashion.   Head Coach Bill Peterson's team started things off in that 1966 game with a 45-21 win and have never looked back as the Seminoles own a 17-2 record all time against Maryland.  Here are some of the greatest moments in history between these two programs. 

November 7th, 1992: Maryland at Florida State
The Seminoles were enjoying a hot start to their first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and cruised to a 7-0 mark in the ACC before Maryland came into town on Homecoming.  It was Charlie Ward's first year at the helm for Florida State, and the fans in Doak Campbell Stadium were treated to an offensive spectacle from their hometown team.

In the worst defeat Florida State has ever handed to the Terps, the Seminoles romped to a 69-21 win behind a great performance by Ward.  The junior quarterback went 26-37 for 395 yards and four touchdowns through the air.  The future Heisman Trophy winner also led the team in rushing with 111 yards and one rushing touchdown. 

The Seminoles clinched their first ACC Championship in that game and went on to an 11-1 record and a number two finish in the polls.  And if 69 points weren't enough, Florida State put up 70 on Tulane the next week and followed that game up by beating the Gators 45-24 in the season finale. 

Looking back, that Maryland game was a sign of things to come for the Seminoles and Charlie Ward, who would go on to win their first National Championship and first Heisman Trophy the next season.

November 13th, 1999: Maryland at Florida State
The game was supposed to be a tune-up before the clash with Florida at the Swamp, and the Seminoles came out firing on all cylinders en route to a 49-10 win and their eighth ACC Championship. 

Chris Weinke tied the school record for most touchdown passes in a game, throwing six touchdowns to Peter Warrick (3), Ron Dugans (2), and Atrews Bell (1).  He finished the game with 304 yards and Peter Warrick had 134 yards to lead all receivers.  

Weinke had a national championship caliber season that year and threw for 3,103 yards and 25 touchdowns in 1999, leading the Seminoles to their first perfect season and a wire-to-wire number one finish.  That momentum from the Maryland game carried into the annual rivalry with Florida and on into the National Championship against Virginia Tech.  It was a perfect season with a perfect ending.

November 22nd, 2008: Florida State at Maryland
The evening couldn't have been more perfect for the Seminoles.  After a heartbreaking loss the week before to Boston College, Florida State stormed into College Park and ruined Maryland's homecoming, blackout game, and chance to win the ACC Atlantic Division.  

Led by Everette Brown's 3.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss, the Seminole defense allowed only 3 points en route to a 37-3 win.  Florida State scored 21 points in the 2nd quarter and never looked back on a frozen night up in College Park.

Yet the most memorable moment of that game was during the 2nd quarter, when junior rover Myron Rolle trotted onto the field as a Rhodes Scholar.  The fans--both Seminoles and Terrapins alike--stood up and cheered for Rolle.  He had flown from Alabama after his scholarship interview to meet up with his team, and was greeted with open arms from his parents, teammates, and athletics administration.  It was a moment that Florida State fans will never forget.

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