DUKE’s MAYO BOWL 2022: Matchup of Maryland-N.C. State renews colorful rivalry that dates to 1909

By Richard Walker

When the Duke’s Mayo Bowl is played on Friday at noon at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, it’ll match Maryland against N.C. State.

C.J. Wilson during his Lincolnton High School football career.

It’ll mark their first meeting since 2013 while renewing a series that was a longtime Southern Conference and ACC rivalry.

And three of the most famous matchups between the two teams involves former Lincolnton High star C.J. Wilson.

Wilson’s 59-yard touchdown interception return was the punctuation mark of N.C. State’s 56-41 win over Maryland in 2011 that capped the school’s greatest comeback rally in history and, ironically enough, clinched a Wolfpack appearance in the Charlotte bowl game that season. N.C. State trailed 41-14 in the third quarter and was down 41-21 when the fourth quarter started before Wilson’s TD return ended the 42-0 closing run.

Wilson again was a starting cornerback in 2012 when N.C. State won 20-18 at Maryland to end a 16-game Atlantic Division road losing streak.

In 2010, Wilson was the cornerback most frequently victimized by Torrey Smith in his 14-catch, 244-yard, 4-TD receiving games that led Maryland to a 38-31 victory that kept N.C. State from advancing to the ACC championship game.

Wilson’s ups and downs in the rivalry is simply part of a series filled with ebbs and flows, dramatic victories and heartbreaking defeats.

When the two programs meet this week, their series is deadlocked at 33-33 with four ties.

Wilson signed with N.C. State and then second-year head coach Tom O’Brien after leading Lincolnton High to its 2007 N.C. 2A football state championship.

Though all of his records have been surpassed in the years since, Wilson left high school as Lincoln County’s all-time leader in career rushing yardage (3,941), rushing TDs (49) and receiving TDs (27) and was second in receiving yards (1,978).

At N.C. State, Wilson redshirted as freshman before starting 31 of 47 games for the Wolfpack and playing four games in the NFL after signing free agent contracts with the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also spent a preseason with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2016.

Since 1970, the series has seen Maryland make eight fourth-quarter comebacks and N.C. State make five fourth-quarter comebacks.

Maryland won 10 ACC championships during its 61-year membership in the league, while N.C. State has won seven conference titles.

Maryland’s 1974 title was propelled by a 20-10 midseason win over N.C. State and N.C. State’s 1973 and 1979 titles were due to midseason victories over Maryland.

And while both teams have their share of longtime rivals – Maryland most frequently with Virginia and N.C. State with North Carolina – the two ended their ACC regular season eight times.

That includes Maryland’s 2013 ACC finale – a 41-21 win at N.C. State that gave the Wolfpack the only 0-8 ACC finish in school history.

Maryland’s most impressive stretch came from 2000 to 2003 when it rallied from fourth-quarter deficits to defeat the Wolfpack every year it was quarterbacked by all-time great Philip Rivers. It accounts for four of the five blown fourth-quarter leads in Rivers’ career.

N.C. State’s most impressive win may be its 28-16 win at Maryland in 1986. The outcome ended the Terrapins’ 17-game ACC winning streak that covered three straight title runs and also featured a fourth-quarter comeback directed by future NFL quarterback Erik Kramer in Dick Sheridan’s first season as Wolfpack head coach.