After an overtime victory at Virginia Tech Nov. 16, the University of Maryland football team is eligible for its first bowl game since 2010. The upset victory was the Terps' first in Blacksburg, Va., since 1949.
Heading into the matchup with Virginia Tech, the Terps had lost four of their last five games, and head coach Randy Edsall needed his leaders to rise to the occasion. Their opponents outscored them, 183-67, during those games, and Maryland needed help on both offense and defense.
The offense got a boost from quarterback C.J. Brown, who has been the catalyst behind most of the team's offensive success this season. To help get the scoring going, Brown used one of his most valuable weapons, his legs.
He ran for a season-high 122 yards on a career-high 23 carries, including the game-winning overtime touchdown. With that performance, Brown now holds seven of the top 10 rushing performances by a quarterback in program history.
"I went up to him early there, probably in the first quarter, and I said, 'Hey, don't hesitate now to just take off with the ball when you go back there,' " Edsall said. "I think that's just a smart thing to do, because if they're going to give you that, what's the difference if you can throw it for 5 [yards] or if you can run it for 25 or whatever, you're still gaining yardage."
While Brown led the offense, the defensive unit played one of its best games of the year. Maryland defenders recorded seven sacks and totaled 11 tackles for loss. Defensive lineman Andre Monroe led the team with three sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. Fellow defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson also added two sacks.
With the game tied late, the Maryland defense was able to keep the Virginia Tech offense off the board and force the game into overtime.
"We did some different things up front to help our guys a little bit," Edsall said. "We wanted to help them penetrate a little bit more. That made a big difference. We had a tremendous pass rush all day long. Anytime that you have seven sacks in a game, you're doing pretty well."
The Hokies came into the game against the Terps fighting for a berth in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, but those hopes were dampened following the loss. After making big plays and key stops during a meaningful game for both teams, the Maryland defense is playing with a revived confidence.
"Anytime you get a big win, especially when you get a big win against a team that you know some of the guys on the other team, you get excited," defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said. "I still think that we still have to play and stay excited for the next game, and that's what they are."
With time running out to clinch their sixth win, Brown and the defense came through the way they have done several other times this season. The players set out goals for the season, and securing at least six wins was near the top of that list.
"I think what they want to do is just continue to work to get better than what we were last week," Edsall said, "and knowing that they do have six wins under their belt, but they are not satisfied with six wins."
With a bowl bid in their back pocket, Edsall and his Terps are set to host Boston College Nov. 23. It will be the program's final game at Byrd Stadium as a member of the ACC.
Follow Chris on Twitter @Garmelo10.