It's finally here. Ralph Friedgen's final game day as Maryland's football coach. He's had a lot of good times --- more than anyone would have realistically guessed he would enjoy when he was hired to take over a moribund program.
Will one of his best memories come today? Perhaps. But as it stands, it will be hard to crack this surprisingly stout rundown of his top moments in College Park.
10. 2004: Maryland upsets No. 5 Florida State
Lost amid a sea of lousy offensive performances in Friedgen's first losing season was an out-of-nowhere 20-17 upset of Florida State at Byrd Stadium. It was Maryland's first upset of a top-five team since 1983, and it ever-so-temporarily infused some hope the Terps could trudge into a bowl game. That didn't happen, but the program's first defeat of the Seminoles stood as a significant milestone.
9. 2007: Injury-riddled Terps stun Boston College
Maryland was 4-5 entering a date with Matt Ryan and a vaunted Boston College team just a week removed from the No. 2 ranking in the country. The Terps were coming off a loss to a middling North Carolina outfit and could barely function with both starting guards out with broken legs. But Chris Turner authored one of his finest games, and the Terps raced to a big lead before fending off the Eagles 42-35. Two weeks later, Maryland blanked N.C. State 37-0 to salvage a bowl berth from the season.
8. 2001: Fridge wins his opener
On North Carolina's first play from scrimmage, Willie Parker ran 77 yards for a touchdown, and it seemed Friedgen was already doomed to follow in the footsteps of his three failed predecessors. But then a funny thing happened: Maryland didn't give up a point the rest of the game. The Terps' defense forced three turnovers and yielded only 199 more yards as 44,080 curious onlookers went home with a 23-7 Maryland victory.
7. 2006: Terps roll in Champs Sports Bowl
After a year of high-wire acts, Maryland put together its best game of the season in a 24-7 Champs Sports Bowl rout of Purdue. Sam Hollenbach earned game MVP honors as the Terps capped a 9-4 season --- and one that followed consecutive 5-6 campaigns --- with a punishing performance against the Boilermakers.
6. 2010: Terps cap turnaround with defeat of N.C. State
There's a case to be made the defeat of Navy this year belongs on the list, but Maryland collected its lone victory over a ranked team in its regular season finale. In what will stand as Friedgen's final home game, Danny O'Brien threw four touchdown passes to Torrey Smith as the Terps held off N.C. State 38-31 to spoil the Wolfpack's push for an Atlantic Division title.
5. 2002: Maryland demolishes Tennessee in Peach Bowl
A great example of what happens when one team wants to be at a bowl game and another clearly doesn't, Friedgen collected the first of his four (and, at day's end, possibly five) bowl victories with a 30-3 smashing of Phil Fulmer's Volunteers. Maryland did so with a makeshift defensive line, but E.J. Henderson did much of the heavy lifting (12 tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks, four pass breakups and a forced fumble) in his final game with the Terps.
4. New Year's Day 2004: Terps chomp West Virginia in Gator Bowl
Ultimately, the end of a third straight 10-win season was high tide for Friedgen; after the 41-7 demolition of West Virginia in Jacksonville, Fla., Maryland would go a pedestrian 43-42 over the next seven years. But no one saw that coming at the time. Instead, the Terps pounded West Virginia for the fourth time in three seasons and Friedgen would soon receive a contract extension with terms favorable enough for him to survive some choppy times in the years to come.
3. 2003: With an Ambush, Terps top N.C. State
The Leroy Ambush game belongs near the top of any recounting of the top moments of the Friedgen years. Maryland trailed 24-10 with 8:45 to go, and then was left for dead when, after a pair of touchdown drives, Nick Novak missed an extra point. But Ambush forced an improbable fumble, Novak connected from 43 yards in the final minute and Philip Rivers' final game at Carter-Finley Stadium was spoiled.
2. 2001: Terps arrive with Thursday night stunner at Georgia Tech
Maryland built a fairly soft 5-0 record to open Friedgen's tenure. But it was only after an overtime victory at Georgia Tech --- pretty widely regarded as the ACC's No. 2 team behind Florida State at the time --- did excitement really begin to develop. The victory clinched bowl eligibility for Maryland in mid-October, and was the first real hint the Terps might be on to something truly remarkable with Friedgen.
1. 2001: Maryland punches Orange Bowl ticket
Ultimately, Friedgen's shiniest accomplishment was the 2001 ACC title. And it was clinched with a 23-19 defeat of N.C. State in Raleigh. Not long after Shaun Hill's threw a short touchdown pass to Guilian Gary to snare an improbable victory at Carter-Finley, a shower of oranges cascaded from Maryland's cheering section. Friedgen had pulled off the improbable and the incredible, leading the Terps to a conference title in his first season and for the first time in 16 years.