Record: 7-5, 4-4 ACC
Overview: The Wolfpack couldn’t have made it much more difficult -- or entertaining -- to reach bowl eligibility this year. NC State was one of the ACC’s most inconsistent teams, but with the postseason on the line, the Wolfpack dug deep and battled back from a 27-point deficit against Maryland for the second-biggest comeback in ACC history.
It was arguably the most memorable win of the season, as NC State trailed 41-14 with six minutes remaining the third quarter but scored 35 fourth-quarter points for the 56-41 win. NC State wouldn’t have been in that position to begin with, though, had it fared better in the first half of the season. There was nothing predictable about how the Wolfpack’s season unfolded. There were pretty high expectations considering NC State finished 2010 ranked among the Associated Press top 25 and were coming off an impressive bowl win, but the transfer of standout quarterback Russell Wilson to Wisconsin was one of the biggest storylines of the offseason. Quarterback Mike Glennon has since developed his own identity and fared well in his first season, but it took some growing pains for the entire team. Injuries also played a key role in the 2-3 start, particularly on defense, but it wasn’t enough to keep NC State from winning its fifth straight game against rival North Carolina. One week after beating the Tar Heels 13-0, though, NC State flopped against Boston College and put itself in a precarious position for the postseason. NC State pulled another shocker the following week, though, with a 37-13 upset of then-No. 7 Clemson. A bowl bid seemed a given- - until the first three quarters of the Maryland game.
Overall, this team should have accomplished more, but it should also be commended for not letting a disappointing start snowball into an even more disappointing finish.
Offensive MVP: QB Mike Glennon. He finished fourth in the ACC in passing average per game with 232.5 yards, and had 28 passing touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and completed 62.4 percent of his passes. He was also seventh in the ACC in total offense with 223.1 yards per game.
Defensive MVP: CB David Amerson. He leads the FBS with 11 interceptions, and tied the ACC single-season interception record in the win over Clemson. He set the single-season school record for interceptions, a record that was held for 73 years. He also had 54 tackles.
Turning point: Maryland running back Davin Meggett’s fumble. Let’s face it: We had no clue which direction this team was headed all season. It wasn’t until Meggett fumbled in the fourth quarter and Glennon scored four plays later to close the deficit to 41-35 that NC State truly had a chance to beat Maryland. “From that point on,” coach Tom O’Brien said, “we were rolling.”
What’s next: NC State will face Louisville in the Belk Bowl, but the question now is which NC State team will show up? The one that knocked off Clemson and rallied against Maryland? Or the one that was embarrassed on national TV by Cincinnati and flopped against Boston College? NC State has worked too hard to get to this bowl game. It shouldn’t let another opportunity slip by.