Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Maryland's 2001 Football Team Among ACC's best

Buster Sports' Andrew Jones has ranked Maryland's 2001 ACC Champion squad as the 24th best team in ACC history. Not a bad distinction for that group. The "Cinderella" cliche gets used way too much in sports but this group certainly fit the criteria. After five straight wins, including the season opener over North Carolina, the Terps travelled to Georgia Tech for one of the classic games in Maryland football history. Kicker Nick Novak tied the game with a 46 yard field goal as time expired in regulation and then went on to kick the winning field goal in overtime. It was the first win over a ranked opponent for Maryland since 1990, a streak of 33 straight losses. Maryland lost to Florida State two games later but still captured an ACC crown in a thrilling game against N.C. State to close the season 10-1. It was the first time since the Seminoles joined the ACC that they did not finish the season as ACC champions.

The 2001 squad set a myriad of season records and has to be considered one of the best teams in Maryland history. Led by consensus All-American linebacker E.J. Henderson, who was voted both ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in a landslide, it was a team built around a rock solid defense and a steady, mistake free offense. Running back Bruce Perry had the best season of his career and quarterback Shaun Hill was an ideal fit for Friedgen's option attack.

The season ended with a 56-23 rout in the Orange Bowl at the hands of a Florida squad that probably should have played in the national title game but that didn't diminish the accomplishments of the 2001 team. They helped to usher in a rebirth of Maryland football from the dismal decade of the 1990's when the Terrapins became perennial doormats in the ACC. It began the greatest three year span in Maryland football history during which time the Terrapins won 31 games. Fans who had not endured the futility of the previous decade cannot fully appreciate how low the program had sunk and the 2001 season was so unexpected and dramatic that it had the aura of magic.

1 comment:

homertuck said...

That was my freshman year at MD. I was at that Georgia Tech was awesome. All the Terps fans held up "6-0" signs after Novak made that kick. What a great, special season.