Posted by Chip Patterson
Locked in a heated three-way race with Maryland and N.C. State, Florida State knows that a loss against the Terps on Saturday likely crushes their chances of an Atlantic Division title and a berth to the ACC Championship Game. Florida State had a firm grasp on the division before losing back-to-back games to N.C. State and North Carolina. Now, the Seminoles must defeat Maryland and hope for the Wolfpack to lose one of their two remaining conference games in order to avoid losing the division.
They are going to have to get the job done in College Park far from full health. Christian Ponder will be back on the field after sitting out against Clemson a week ago with soreness from a ruptured bursa sac in his elbow. Ponder is not quite 100 percent, and it would not be surprising if E.J. Manuel saw some action, particularly after his performance on the ground against the Tigers. But Ponder will missing two crucial pieces of the offense on Saturday. Wide receiver Willie Haulstead and running back Jermaine Thomas are both will both sit out the conference finale with injuries. Haulstead, who leads the team in receiving yards, has not been able to practice this week due to a head injury. Thomas, the team's leader in carries, was expected to miss action due to a sprained knee. Maryland's defense has buckled against Top 25-caliber offenses this season, but with all the health issues it is not certain that the unit on Saturday is of that caliber.