The 2008 recruiting class was ranked 52nd in the nation by Scout.com and 38th by Rivals.com. Scout.com rated three recruits as four-star and six as three-star prospects, while Rivals.com rated six recruits each as four-star and three-star prospects.Kenny Tate, who was originally recruited as a wide receiver, was the only four-star prospect to see significant playing time in 2008. Before the season, he was converted to safety, a position that had been attrited by the graduation of former starters Christian Varner and J.J. Justice, and Tate also saw action on special teams. Cornerback Cameron Chism, who saw action in nine games as a reserve, recorded seven tackles on kickoff returns to tie for second on the team in special teams tackles. Tight end Matt Furstenburg saw limited play time on special teams against Delaware and Middle Tennessee, but injured his foot and was awarded a medical redshirt. Wide receiver Kevin Dorsey also sat out the season as a redshirt to recuperate from foot surgery. The other four-star recruits who sat out on redshirt status were wide receiver Kerry Boykins, tight end Devonte Campbell, and defensive tackle Masengo Kabongo. Running back Davin Meggett, the son of former New York Giants star Dave Meggett, was the only true freshman to start a game for Maryland in 2008, and he was a significant contributor throughout the season. Meggett was not a highly touted recruit, assessed by Scout.com as a two-star prospect, and his only other scholarship offers were from local-area Division I FCS schools. In 2008, however, he led all ACC freshman with 5.13 yards per carry, and Megett finished the season with 457 yards and four touchdowns as a reserve.
There was some controversy at the start of the season when head coach Ralph Friedgen selected senior Jordan Steffy as the starting quarterback over junior Chris Turner. In 2007, when Steffy suffered a concussion against 10th-ranked Rutgers, the relatively untested Turner took over and led Maryland to an upset victory. He then started the remainder of the season, compiled a 4–5 record in games he started, and led another upset against eighth-ranked Boston College. In comparing the practice performances of Steffy, Turner, and third-stringer Josh Portis, offensive coordinator James Franklin said:
It gets hard if one quarterback all through spring and all through summer camp was statistically better in almost every single category, it's hard to rationalize not making him the starter ... because your gut feeling is one thing and the statistics are another. Jordan led by a pretty large amount in completion percentage ... [and] the least interception percentage. He didn't lead in yards per [attempt or] ... percentage of explosive plays. I consider an explosive play a play of 16 yards or more ... Portis led in that and Turner was second and Jordan was third.
In the season opener against Delaware, Steffy suffered an injured thumb, and Turner took over in the fourth quarter. He remained the starter for the rest of the season, and Steffy saw no further game action. Portis saw limited playing time throughout the season, usually being put in for a single option play at a time.
Injuries had devastated the Maryland roster the previous year, and while 2008 was more forgiving by comparison, several key players were injured. Starting cornerback Kevin Barnes suffered a season-ending scapular fracture against Wake Forest and missed the last six games. Sophomore LaQuan Williams and true freshman Kevin Dorsey, both wide receivers, sat out the entire season due to leg and foot injuries, respectively. Leading receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey sat out the Boston College game due to a calf injury, and leading rusher Da'Rel Scott suffered a left shoulder injury in the third game against California, which plagued him throughout the season, although he missed just one game. Running back Morgan Green, who had contended for the starting position during summer camp, had an injury-riddled season, before seeing his first real action in the bowl game. Starting quarterback Jordan Steffy was put out for the season by a thumb injury on his throwing hand in the first game.
Fr: Freshman So: Sophomore Jr: Junior Sr: Senior V: Number of prior seasons varsity experience RS: Redshirt status prior season TR: Sat out prior season due to NCAA transfer rules SQ: Practice squad prior season HS: High school experience only
Boldface indicates a starting player for the respective position. An "up" arrow (↑) indicates upward movement in depth chart position from earlier in the season. A "down" arrow (↓) indicates downward movement in depth chart position from earlier in the season. A horizontal arrow (↔) indicates movement to a different position from earlier in the season. An asterisk (*) indicates that the player recovered from an injury to take a place on the depth chart.
Pre-game line: Lines are not released for games between FBS and FCS teams
The previous season, Delaware finished as the Division I FCS championship runners-up and scored more than 40 points in seven of 15 games. However, their star quarterback, Joe Flacco, and running back, Omar Cuff, both graduated and went on to the NFL. Later in the season, the Blue Hens finished 2008 with eight losses for the first time in school history.
Delaware kicked off to start the game, and wide receiver Torrey Smithreturned the ball 23 yards to the Maryland 32-yard line. Quarterback Jordan Steffy then led a Maryland drive, but the series ended when placekickerObi Egekeze missed a 48-yard field goal attempt. On the next Maryland possession, Egekeze missed another field goal attempt, this time of 45 yards. The teams then exchanged several punts before Maryland took over on the Delaware 48-yard line. Steffy completed a 36-yard pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey, which set up a 12-yard touchdown rush also by Heyward-Bey. Delaware drove 44 yards, but then missed their own 46-yard field goal attempt. With 3:33 left in the half, Steffy engineered a 47-yard drive to set up a 41-yard field goal attempt, which Egekeze missed for the third time. On the first play of the second half, Delaware quarterback Rob Schoenhoft threw an interception to cornerback Kevin Barnes, who returned it 10 yards to the Delaware 46-yard line. On the next play, Steffy threw an interception to Erik Johnson, who returned it to the Maryland 49-yard line. The Terrapins' next possession ended when, fourth and 18, Steffy threw another interception at the Delaware one-yard line. Incidentally, this put the Blue Hens in worse field position than if the Terrapins had turned over on downs. Soon after, Delaware punted the ball away. Running back Da'Rel Scott then rushed for a 30-yard gain, which set up a 14-yard touchdown run by running back Davin Meggett. Chris Turner took over as Maryland's quarterback on the second series of the fourth quarter after Steffy fractured his right thumb. On Delaware's subsequent possession, Schoenhoft engineered an 80-yard drive, which culminated with a one-yard touchdown rush by running back Johnathan Smith. With 3:20 on the clock, Schoenhoft threw an interception to safety Terrell Skinner. Turner then scrambled for a first down, and Scott converted for a second first down, which allowed Maryland to run out the game clock. Maryland won, with a final score of 14–7.
In his first career start, Scott ran for 157 yards, but Friedgen thought he could have done better. Friedgen said, "He was a little tired from camp ... Normally, he would break some of those runs. I don't think he quite had his third gear today." Steffy played a solid first half, but in the second, threw two interceptions before suffering a season-ending thumb fracture. He was replaced by back-up Chris Turner who started for the remainder of the season. Regarding their loss, Delaware head coach K.C. Keeler said, "This is not like a moral victory. I don't believe in moral victories ... This was not a payday for us ... We play a home game, we make more money than playing this game down here. When we scheduled this game, I thought our program would possibly be in a position to beat a solid ACC school."
The previous week, Middle Tennessee made two rapid-fire fourth quarter touchdowns in a failed comeback attempt against the eventual Sun Belt Conference champions, Troy. The week following the Maryland game, Middle Tennessee nearly upset Kentucky. The Blue Raiders lost that game, 20–14, after wide receiver Eldred King caught a 61-yard pass only to be ankle-tackled at the Kentucky one-yard line as time expired.
After receiving the kickoff, Middle Tennessee quarterback Joe Craddock led an 80-yard, 10-play drive. It included a fake punt that caught Maryland off-guard, which allowed the punter to complete a 28-yard pass for a first-down conversion. Craddock ended the drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass. On Maryland's second offensive play of the game, Da'Rel Scott broke free for a 63-yard run for a touchdown. In the second quarter, Middle Tennessee re-took the lead with a 31-yard field goal. In the third quarter, Turner threw an interception that was returned 25 yards to the Maryland five-yard line, and Middle Tennessee subsequently scored on a rushing play. On Maryland's next possession, Turner completed a short pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey who ran for an 80-yard touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Maryland advanced inside the Middle Tennessee 35-yard line three times, but was unable to capitalize. Middle Tennessee defenders saved two potential touchdowns with interceptions on their own two-yard line and in the end zone to preserve a Blue Raider victory, 24–14.
The game marked Middle Tennessee's first ever win over an ACC opponent, although they had come close in Charlottesville the year prior, when Virginia made a go-ahead field goal with eight seconds remaining. It was Middle Tennessee's fourth win against an opponent from a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) conference. The other three all came against Vanderbilt.
The Washington Post called the previous week's ten-point loss to Middle Tennessee the "worst defeat of [Ralph Friedgen's] eight-year tenure," and with the narrow margin of victory over Delaware, most analysts strongly favored 23-ranked California in its first meeting against Maryland. The previous week, California routed Washington State, 66–3.
The game began with a Maryland kickoff to California, who were stopped for a net loss of 4 yards and forced to punt. On Maryland's first possession, it mounted a 60-yard drive that culminated in a 24-yard touchdown rush by Da'Rel Scott. California quarterback Kevin Riley then threw an interception to cornerback Kevin Barnes, which allowed Scott to rush for his second score of the game. California made a field goal, but on the following series, Maryland drove 60 yards and tight end Dan Gronkowski made a touchdown reception. The Golden Bears made another field goal to end the first half with a score of 21–6, in Maryland's favor. During the second quarter, Riley threw a short screen pass to running back Jahvid Best, who immediately received a hard hit from Maryland cornerback Kevin Barnes. While still laying on the field, Best rolled to his side to vomit. Footage of the tackle and its aftermath circulated widely on the internet and became a viral video phenomenon. In the third period, Chris Turner completed a pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey for a 27-yard touchdown to end the quarter with Maryland in the lead, 28–6. In the final period, California scored two touchdowns against a preventative defense, before Maryland responded with a fifth score on a one-yard rush by Davin Meggett. In the final minutes, Maryland placekicker Obi Egekeze missed a 27-yard field goal which would have clinched the victory. Instead, California scored a third touchdown to close within eight points. With 1:55 remaining to play, California attempted an onside kick, but it bounced out of bounds, and Maryland was able to run out the clock to win the upset, 35–28.
The Maryland offense scored five touchdowns against California, which bettered the combined total of four in the Terrapins' first two games. California running back Jahvid Best, an early Heisman Trophy contender, ran for 311 yards in his first two games, but was held to 25 yards on 10 carries against Maryland. In total, California's rushing offense was held to 38 yards. This was the first of four Maryland victories over ranked opponents during the 2008 season.
Against Mid-American Conference opponent Eastern Michigan, Maryland showcased its offense, which scored on nine out of thirteen possessions. Starting tailback Da'Rel Scott sat out the game because of a shoulder injury suffered against California, and he was replaced by Morgan Green.
Linebacker Adrian Moten blocked an Eastern Michigan punt, which gave Maryland excellent field position for their first possession on their opponents' 10-yard line. They were, however, were held to a field goal. Eastern Michigan responded with a 75-yard drive to the Maryland five-yard line, but threw an interception to safety Jamari McCollough. Maryland mounted an 80 yard drive, which included a 35-yard run by Darrius Heyward-Bey and culminated in a one-yard touchdown by Morgan Green. After both teams suffered "three-and-out" possessions, Eastern Michigan quarterback Kyle McMahon threw a second interception to Moten, which set up a second touchdown by Green. Eastern Michigan drove 80 yards in 11 plays, and running back Terrence Blevins ran for a touchdown to bring the score to 17–7. Torrey Smith returned the ensuing 59-yard kickoff 57 yards, which set up a 32-yard touchdown pass from Chris Turner to Heyward-Bey. Eastern Michigan then drove 80 yards for another touchdown. On the subsequent Maryland possession, Turner threw an interception to end the half with the score of 24–14. On the kickoff to start the second half, Smith returned the ball 27 yards. On the next play, Heyward-Bey gained 47 yards on a rush attempt, which set up a short touchdown pass to tight end Dan Gronkowski. On the next two series, the teams traded field goals which brought the score to 34–17. Turner threw another interception to start the fourth quarter, but linebacker Trey Covington then recorded a quarterback sack, which forced Eastern Michigan to turnover on downs. Turner was then sacked himself, and Maryland kicked a field goal. Eastern Michigan engineered an 80-yard drive for a touchdown, and closed the deficit to 37–24. Maryland reserve quarterback Josh Portis execute a lateral to wide receiver Danny Oquendo who in turn passed to receiver Isaiah Williams, which gained a 43-yard touchdown. Eastern Michigan was subsequently forced to punt, and Portis rushed 80 yards over six plays for the final touchdown. In the next series, Jamari McCoullough intercepted an Eastern Michigan pass to end the game, 51–24.
Maryland traveled to Clemson to play in "Death Valley", traditionally one of the most difficult ACC venues for opponents to play. Clemson firmly held the momentum of the game for the first half, and their running backs exploited holes in the Maryland defensive line. During that time, Clemson recorded two touchdowns and a field goal. Despite gaining excellent field position through recovering a fumbled punt on the Clemson 19-yard line and a recovered fumble on the Clemson 30-yard line, Maryland was able to produce just two field goals from those turnovers. The Terrapins drives were also blunted by penalties for two false starts and a holding call.
In the first possession of the second half, the Terrapins were forced to punt after a run attempt for loss, a false start penalty, and two incomplete passes. The Maryland defense took the field and stopped a Clemson drive. On the first play of their second series, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey executed a reverse to gain 76 yards before being stopped at the Clemson four-yard line. This set up a short Chris Turner touchdown pass to receiver Torrey Smith, and shifted the game's momentum in favor of Maryland. In the fourth quarter, three completions to Danny Oquendo set the stage for a one-yard rush into the endzone by Da'Rel Scott. In the second half, the Maryland defense allowed Clemson just 31 rushing yards and zero points, compared with 204 rushing yards and 17 points in the first half.
The upset marked the fourth consecutive Maryland win against a ranked opponent (the others: #23 Cal, and, in the 2007 season, #8 Boston College and #10 Rutgers). It was also the fourth consecutive time that the visiting team has won the Maryland–Clemson series.
Virginia went into the game with a 1–3 record and at the bottom of the ACC. They mustered only 36 points (and just 20 points against Division I FBS teams) in the previous four games, while allowing their opponents 128 points. Their last game had been a 31–3 defeat at the hands of Duke, which finally broke the Blue Devils' 25-game ACC losing streak.
The Maryland offense had difficulty converting third downs, and managed only four on 13 attempts, while their defense allowed 226 passing yards and 201 rushing yards. Late in the first quarter, Virginia quarterback Marc Verica completed a pass to receiver Kevin Ogletree for a 51-yard touchdown, the Cavs' first passing score of the season. Virginia was able to score twice more before half, to put the Terrapins into a 21–0 deficit. With seconds left in the second quarter, in a desperate gambit to recoup some points, quarterback Chris Turner attempted a hook and ladder play with a pass to Isaiah Williams who then lateraled to Darrius Heyward-Bey, who in turn lateraled to Da'Rel Scott. The maneuver picked up 45 yards before Scott was shoved out of bounds, and a flag was thrown for a late hit by Virginia. Since a half cannot end on a defensive penalty, time would have been added to the clock, but it was ruled that the foul occurred after time had expired. Therefore, the penalty was assessed after the kick-off, and the Terrapins' trick play was for naught.
In the third quarter, things got worse for Maryland as the Cavaliers added a field goal and another touchdown. In a final drive for 46 yards, Maryland attempted to avert a shutout. The effort fell short when a Turner pass was intercepted. The final result was 31–0.
It was the first time Maryland was shut out since 2004, when they were similarly defeated by Virginia in Charlottesville, 16–0. It was Maryland's worst shutout loss since losing to Virginia in 1997, 45–0, and the largest margin of loss since losing to Virginia Tech in 2004, 55–6.
Against Wake Forest's best-ranked pass defense in the nation, Chris Turner threw for a season-high of 321 yards and a career-best 68% completion rate (28–41). Maryland running back Da'Rel Scott twice fumbled to give Wake Forest excellent field position, but both opportunities were wasted with missed field goal attempts. Wake Forest's leading scorer, placekicker Sam Swank, was out due to injury.
Ralph Friedgen stated that "We finally put a full game together. I think by far it's the best we've played all year." It was Maryland's fifth consecutive defeat of a ranked opponent, and the third of the season, making them 3–0 against ranked opponents, but just 2–2 against all others. The game also marked the first time that Wake Forest had been held scoreless in 124 games when it lost to Air Force in 1998, and it was the first time since 1957 that the Terrapins had bounced back to shut out an opponent following a shutout of their own. The last Maryland shutout of a ranked opponent was in 1955 against UCLA.
In a frigid driving rain at College Park, NC State brought an inspired effort in an attempt to break a three-game losing streak. In the first series of the game, the Wolfpack used 14 plays and 8 minutes to drive 73 yards and score first. Maryland immediately responded with a drive that ended with a 13-yard Turner pass to Dan Gronkowski. In the following series, NC State again scored a touchdown, and Maryland kicked a field goal in response. NC State running back Andre Brown fumbled on the first play, and Maryland recovered on the Wolfpack 24-yard line. The Terrapins capitalized on the turnover with a Davin Meggett run into the endzone. After a Wolfpack field goal, the score was even at halftime, 17–17. In the third quarter, Maryland running back Da'Rel Scott rushed 24 yards for a touchdown. Late in the quarter, Danny Oquendo fumbled a punt return on the 50-yard line and the Wolfpack recovered. NC State equalized once more with a Russell Wilson pass, which brought the score to 24–24.
With 4:50 remaining on the clock, and the ball on their own eight-yard line, Maryland drove 89 yards to the Wolfpack three-yard line, which included a pass to Davin Meggett for 31 yards. This set up a 20-yard field goal attempt by Obi Egekeze with eight seconds on the clock. The kick was good and put Maryland ahead for good, 27–24.
The Wolfpack lost its fourth straight game to remain the only ACC team winless in conference play (ACC: 0–4). The favorite Terrapins once again struggled against an underdog opponent, but managed to edge the Wolfpack and secure a sixth win for bowl eligibility. With it, Maryland was ranked for the first time since 2006, at 25th on the Associated Press and USA TodayCoaches' Poll rankings. Interestingly, the fan poll ESPNU Allstate Standings had the Terrapins ranked 14th in the nation, ahead of AP first-ranked Texas and fourth-ranked Oklahoma.
Maryland had a bye in Week 10, while ACC Atlantic rival 16th-ranked Florida State lost to Georgia Tech. This allowed Maryland to take the uncontested lead in the Atlantic Division and rise in the AP Poll to number-23 and USA Today Coaches' Poll to number-21. Florida State fell to 24th, while once 19th-ranked Tulsa, 20th-ranked Minnesota, 23rd-ranked Oregon, and 24th-ranked South Florida were all dropped from the rankings after their own loses.
The two teams met for a Thursday night game at Blacksburg, a time and site where the Hokies have traditionally excelled. In the first quarter, Maryland drove 56 yards, but was held to a 46-yard field goal attempt, which was missed by Obi Egekeze. In the next series, Tech quarterback Sean Glennon led the Hokies on an 80-yard drive that culminated in a short pass to Greg Boone for a score. The next series went into the second quarter, and Maryland was again forced to attempt a field goal, which was made good. Hokies tailback Darren Evans then broke away for a 50-yard carry to the Maryland 30-yard line, and later capped it with a one-yard rush into the endzone. Before the half, Tech managed a field goal to expand their lead, 17–3.
In the second half, Chris Turner hit Darrius Heyward-Bey for a short bubble screen pass behind the line of scrimmage, and Heyward-Bey ran it 63 yards for the score. During the next series, the Terrapins were held three-and-out, but the punt was fumbled and recovered by Maryland on the Hokies 11-yard line. However, the Terrapins were again forced to settle for a field goal, which made it a one-possession lead for VT at 20–13 with 2:29 left in the third quarter. In the final quarter, the Hokies managed another field goal and held onto the lead for a final result of 23–13.
Hokies tailback Darren Evans ran for a school-record of 253 yards, and exceeded 100 rushing yards in a game for the first time in his career. The Hokie defense shut down the Terrapins running game and held them to −12 yards on 18 carries. Maryland also proved unable or unwilling to blitz against Sean Glennon, the Tech quarterback hobbled by an ankle injury. Glennon threw for 127 yards and a touchdown.
In another driving rainstorm at College Park, Maryland met 16th-ranked North Carolina. Maryland's first possession ended as a "three-and-out" series, and the Terrapins elected to punt. The ball was snapped high and sailed over punter Travis Baltz's head. Baltz recovered it in the Maryland end zone for a safety, which averted a possible North Carolina touchdown. Maryland kicked off to North Carolina, and held the Tar Heels to a field goal. On the subsequent possession, Maryland took the lead, 7–5, after a 76-yard drive that culminated with a short run by Da'Rel Scott. On North Carolina's next possession, quarterback Cameron Sexton threw a long pass, which was tipped by Maryland safety Kenny Tate, but deflected into the hands of receiver Cooter Arnold hands, who ran it into the end zone for a 59-yard touchdown. Davin Meggett powered 57 yards through the opposing defensive line on nine carries for another touchdown, which put Maryland back in the lead. Shortly before halftime, North Carolina kicked another field goal for the game's fifth lead change. The rain and wind let up in the third quarter, but the waterlogged playing field still presented challenging conditions. North Carolina placekicker Casey Barth struck the left upright on an unsuccessful 28-yard field goal attempt, but the Tar Heels soon recovered a fumble from Maryland back-up quarterback Josh Portis. North Carolina failed to capitalize, however, and punted the ball away. Chris Turner engineered a 73-yard drive in 19 plays, which included a scramble for a first down by the typically immobile pocket quarterback. That run put Maryland within field goal range, and Egekeze made the 26-yard attempt with 1:42 remaining to play. North Carolina received the kick and managed a first down, but Sexton then threw a 34-yard interception to safety Jamari McCollough. The Terrapins were then able to run run out the play clock to win, 17–15.
The victory was Maryland's sixth consecutive against ranked opponents, which set a new school record. At the time, Maryland was the only team in the nation with four wins over ranked opponents during the 2008 season. Only BCS National Championship Game participants Florida and Oklahoma would later finish with more wins against ranked teams. Maryland also improved their home record to 6–0 for the season. Head coach Ralph Friedgen improved his record against North Carolina to 5–1, and kept North Carolina winless in College Park since 1997.
The results of that weekend's games improved the clarity of the ACC Championship Game picture, but did not decide it. Maryland improved their ACC record to 4–2 and took the uncontested lead of the Atlantic Division. Florida State lost to Boston College that same day, which meant four teams were still able to secure the division title: Boston College, Florida State, Maryland, and Wake Forest.
Boston College (ACC: 3–3) could travel to the ACC Championship Game if they won out by beating both Wake Forest and Maryland. Boston College eventually did just that, and lost to Virginia Tech in the 2008 ACC Championship Game. Florida State (ACC: 4–3) would have won the Atlantic Division if they beat Maryland, Maryland beat Boston College, and Boston College beat Wake Forest. Under those circumstances, Florida State would have finished with a 5–3 record, tied with Maryland. Florida State would win the tiebreaker because they had defeated Maryland head-to-head. As it happened, Maryland lost to Boston College, which relegated Florida State to a second-place finish in the division. Wake Forest (ACC: 4–3) would have won the division if they won their last game against Boston College, and both Florida State and Boston College beat Maryland. In that case, Florida State and Wake Forest would have had identical conference records (ACC: 5–3), and Wake Forest would have won the tiebreaker because they defeated Florida State earlier in the season.
Maryland (ACC: 4–2) would have won the division title if they had either: (1) beaten both Florida State and Boston College; (2) beaten Florida State, while Boston College lost to Wake Forest; or (3) beaten Boston College, while Boston College lost to Wake Forest. That last scenario would have caused a three-way tie between Maryland, Florida State, and Wake Forest. All would have possessed a 5–3 conference record, and no head-to-head tiebreaker would have been possible. In that case, the winner would have been decided by divisional record, of which the Terrapins would have had the best (ACC Atlantic: 4–1).
After Wake Forest lost to Boston College earlier in the day, Florida State required a win over Maryland to proceed to the ACC Championship Game. The Seminoles would also need Maryland to win against Boston College the following week. As a testament to the must-win nature of the game for Florida State, it was designated as a "Sod Game", where, if won, the team would bring home a piece of Byrd Stadium's sod to be commemorated in their "Sod Cemetery".
Maryland received the opening kickoff and pushed into Florida State territory. On third down, Chris Turner was sacked and Maryland was forced to punt. Florida State was held three-and-out and punted. The Terrapins again pushed down field, before, on fourth and four on the Florida State 27-yard line, elected to attempt a field goal. Obi Egekeze's 44-yard attempt went wide of the uprights far to the right.
Florida State started a drive in the first quarter for 73 yards which culminated with a seven-yard Christian Ponder pass to Preston Parker for the score. The two teams traded punts, and Terrapins running back Da'Rel Scott fumbled the ball on the Maryland 26-yard line. Seminole linebacker Derek Nicholson picked up the ball and ran it into the endzone to bring the score to 14–0. On the next possession, Chris Turner threw his first interception in five games. Florida State then went three-and-out and punted. Maryland drove for 53 yards before another Turner pass was intercepted by Toddrick Verdell, who returned it for 34 yards. Florida State quarterback Ponder completed a 17-yard pass to Parker, and then ran it himself for 16 yards to the Maryland five-yard line. Two Antone Smith rushes brought the score to 21–0 at the half.
At the beginning of the second half, the Terrapins kicked off to the Seminoles before both teams traded field goals. It would be the only points Maryland would muster all night. In the fourth quarter, Florida State added another field goal. On the next possession, Maryland running back Da'Rel Scott and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey both made short runs for a first down. Scott lost his second fumble of the night on the Terrapin 43-yard line. Florida State took over and scored another touchdown. After Maryland went three-and-out, Seminoles kicker Graham Gano made his third field goal of the night.
The Seminoles defense accumulated six sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles. The loss ended Maryland's aspirations for the Atlantic Division title and, with it, a shot at the ACC Championship. Florida State remained in the running until Maryland lost to Boston College the following week.
Maryland entered the game having been knocked out of the running for the Atlantic Division title the previous week, but able to play spoiler for Boston College. The Eagles were playing to earn a berth to the ACC Championship Game for the second consecutive year. Additionally, competing within a closely contested ACC, Maryland could have greatly improved its standing for bowl selection with an eighth win. The Eagles were the fifth ranked team to face Maryland. The Terrapins were, to that point, 4–0 against top-25 opposition and the only team to beat four ranked opponents in 2008. Boston College was fielding second-string quarterback Dominique Davis in his first career appearance. He replaced starter Chris Crane, who had suffered a broken collarbone the previous week.
Boston College kicked off, and Torrey Smith made a 27-yard return to the Maryland 31-yard line. After a Terrapins false start and Eagles offsides penalty, Chris Turner connected with Torrey Smith for 12 yards and a first down. Turner gained another first down with a completion to Danny Oquendo to put them into BC territory. A rush for no gain and two incomplete passes forced a punt. Boston College responded with a 14-play, 88-yard drive that resulted in a seven-yard touchdown pass to Justin Jarvis. On the next possession, Turner completed passes to Emani Lee-Odai and Torrey Smith for 16- and 43-yard gains, respectively, and placed them at the Boston College one-yard line. Turner capped the drive with a one-yard rush for a score to tie the score, 7–7. To end the first quarer, Boston College linebacker Mike McLaughlin literally hurdled over 5-ft 8-in Davin Meggett to sack Turner in what was ranked an ESPN SportsCenter "Play of the Day". The Eagles and Terrapins traded punts twice, and then Boston College turned over on downs before Maryland was forced to punt again. After a Boston College punt, Chris Turner threw an interception to Mark Herzlich. On the next play Dominique Davis threw to Rich Gunnell for a 45-yard touchdown reception.
The second half started off with traded punts. Boston College took over with excellent field position on the Maryland 34-yard line, but was held to fourth and eight yards on the Terrapins' nine-yard line. The Eagles faked a field goal attempt, and holder Billy Flutie, nephew of Heisman winner Doug Flutie, rolled right and passed to Jordon McMichael for a nine-yard touchdown. The teams traded punts again, before Turner led the Terrapins on a 70-yard drive into the final quarter. A 13-yard reception by Danny Oquendo brought the score to 21–14. Boston College was then held three-and-out and punted. The Terrapins drove to the Eagles' 19-yard line, but Obi Egekeze missed the 36-yard field goal attempt. Boston College's next drive consisted of ten rush attempts by Montel Harris and burned three minutes off the clock. The Eagles punted and Turner completed three passes to advance to their own 35-yard line. Linebacker Robert Francois intercepted a pass and ran it 36 yards into the endzone. Steve Aponavicius's extra point brought it to 28–14. With 1:42 left, Turner completed eight passes including an 8-yard touchdown toss to Torrey Smith. With 0:14 remaining in the game, Maryland attempted an onside kick, but it bounced out of bounds. Boston College took possession and ran out the clock to end the game, 28–21.
Boston College ended Maryland's six game winning streak against ranked opponents. With a 7–5 record, the Terrapins' postseason bowl game options were also limited. The Eagles secured the ACC Atlantic Division title and, with it, a trip to Tampa for the ACC Championship Game to face Virginia Tech for the second-straight season. Boston College held the Maryland run to −6 yards, forcing reliance on Chris Turner's passing ability. It was the second game of the season the Terrapins were held to negative rushing yards (this had also occurred against Virginia Tech). Turner, however, was able to throw for 360 yards, bettering Boston College's total offensive yardage of 318 yards.
After Maryland suffered a fifth loss in the season closer against Boston College, it was very unlikely that the team's preferred postseason game, the Meineke Car Care Bowl, would extend an invitation. The game's selection committee in Charlotte, North Carolina was eager to secure nearby North Carolina (8–4). Meanwhile, the EagleBank Bowl, hosted by RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., not far from the Maryland campus, secured in-state rivalNavy, but the game date conflicted with Maryland's final exams. Soon after Maryland's regular season finale, sportswriters and analysts speculated that the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho, was the most likely postseason destination. Bowl officials there worked to secure a game of undefeated teams between the hometown team, Boise State, and Ball State of the Mid-American Conference. However, Ball State rejected the proposal to play at Boise State's homefield as unacceptable.
On December 7, 2008, Maryland accepted a bid to play in the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl against Nevada. The Western Athletic Conference (WAC) team likewise finished with a 7–5 record. Nevada was ranked the number-five total offense and number-two rushing offense in the nation with 510.6 total yards per game. In 2008, running back Vai Taua ran for 1,420 and quarterback Colin Kaepernick for 1,115 yards, and the latter threw for an additional 2,479 yards. The Humanitarian Bowl executive director, Kevin McDonald, said, "We look forward to welcoming a Maryland [team] that defeated four Top 25 opponents and spent three weeks ranked ... Nevada comes in having played two teams, Texas Tech and Missouri, that were then ranked nationally in the top ten. They also gave ninth-ranked Boise State their toughest [WAC] game."
Prior to the game, Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen placed a partial-game suspension on seven players who violated the team's pre-bowl curfew, including leading rusher, Da'Rel Scott, and senior wide receiver Danny Oquendo. Consequently, a much younger line-up initially started for Maryland during the early part of the game, including, according to Friedgen, some who probably would not have seen playing time otherwise.
The game started with Maryland receiving the kick-off and on the first series, quarterback Chris Turner linked up with freshman Adrian Cannon for a 59-yard touchdown. However, placekicker Obi Egekeze missed the extra point. Nevada quarterback and Western Athletic Conference offensive player of the year, Colin Kaepernick, responded with a drive which included a 68-yard pass to the Maryland 3-yard line. The Terrapin defense stopped two rushing attempts by Vai Taua, but a short pass was good for the score, and with the extra point, Nevada took the lead 6–7. The Wolf Pack then kicked a 69-yard kick-off to Torrey Smith, who returned it 99 yards for a second Maryland touchdown. Egekeze made good the extra point and Maryland regained the lead, 13–7. On the next kick-off, Egekeze attempted to kick the ball as it fell off the tee, resulting in a short squib, which was returned to the Terrapins' 9-yard line. Kaepernick threw into the endzone where it was intercepted by Maryland safety Kenny Tate for a touchback, but the Terrapins were soon forced to punt. Kaepernick advanced the ball downfield before a Taua 17-yard touchdown run. In the next series, Maryland sophomore Morgan Green rushed for three yards and then a 53-yard touchdown breakaway. Later, Turner converted on third down with a 16-yard toss to Ronnie Tyler and threw again to Tyler for a 14-yard touchdown. Turner tallied a two-point conversion with a throw to Davin Meggett, and Maryland led at halftime 28–14.
Wolf Pack running back Taua was able to capitalize after a Turner-thrown pick and narrow their deficit, 28–21. A sack against Turner knocked the ball loose, was recovered by Nevada, fumbled again, and finally recovered by the Terrapins' Scott Burley. Turner then connected with Darrius Heyward-Bey for an 11-yard first down and a fresh Da'Rel Scott made his first touch of the game for another first down on the Nevada 23. Turner was again sacked and fumbled, and Nevada recovered. Kaepernick then completed 38-yard and 21-yard passes to even the score, 28–28. Turner converted on third down with a 26-yard toss to Torrey Smith. Scott was soon able to break open down the middle for a 49-yard touchdown run. On the next Maryland series, Da'Rel Scott was handed the ball four times in succession and scored his second touchdown. With 4:01 remaining, Kaepernick led a drive starting from the Nevada 23, before a scramble for a touchdown made it a one-possession game with 2:19 remaining. Jaekle attempted an on-side kick, but it was recovered by Maryland. Scott picking up a first down and clinched a 42–35 Maryland victory.
Maryland freshman wide receiver Torrey Smith, with his 99-yard kickoff return touchdown, broke the all-time ACC record for single-season kickoff returns with 1,089 yards. Maryland running back Da'Rel Scott rushed for 174 yards, earning Most Valuable Player honors alongside Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick who threw for 370 yards. Scott set the University of Maryland's record for rushing yards in a bowl game, in what was just one-and-half quarters of playing time due to his curfew suspension. He also broke the 1,000-yard per season barrier, making him one of just seven players in school history to do so. Four Maryland back-ups who saw significant play due to the curfew suspensions also scored touchdowns: second-string X-receiver Torrey Smith, second-string slot receiver Ronnie Tyler, third-string slot receiver Adrian Cannon, and third-string running back Morgan Green.
In Week 9, after defeating Wake Forest to improve to a 6–1 record, Maryland was ranked 25th by both the Associated Press and the Coaches' Polls. It was the first time the team was ranked since Week 11 in 2006. Maryland would rise in the polls, and enter the Harris and BCS rankings after beating NC State the following week. However, after the loss to Virginia Tech, the Terps fell out of the rankings altogether. Maryland made one final poll appearance after the win over North Carolina, before losing to Florida State.
At the end of the regular season, but before the postseason bowl game, Maryland lost two members of its coaching staff. On December 5, 2008, the school announced that defensive coordinatorChris Cosh would return to Kansas State to take over as assistant coach and co-defensive coordinator. He joined the staff of the recently re-hired Bill Snyder, who was Kansas State's head coach from 1996 to 2005. Cosh previously served under Snyder as his linebackers coach from 2004 to 2005. For the bowl game, Maryland appointed outside linebackers coach Al Seamonson as the interim defensive coordinator. Maryland also lost its special teams and tight ends coach, Danny Pearman, who was hired by new Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. Pearman was a Clemson alumnus and played there as a tight end from 1984 to 1987. At Alabama, he coached special teams and the offensive and defensive tackles from 1990 to 1997, during which time Swinney played there as a wide receiver. For Maryland's bowl game, third-year intern Brian White acted as interim tight ends coach, and he assisted head coach Ralph Friedgen in directing the special teams.
After the bowl game, in February 2009, the athletic department named offensive coordinator James Franklin the "head coach-in-waiting", meaning that he would be the eventual successor to Ralph Friedgen. Upon the expiration of Friedgen's contract in January 2012, Franklin will be offered the position or paid a US$1 million contractual buyout. In June 2009, Friedgen said he might like to stay an additional two years past his current contract, but athletic directorDeborah Yow responded that the school could not afford the buyout. She said that any extension would have to be worked out between Friedgen and Franklin.