Terps shrug off bowl eligibility, focus on final two games

November 20, 2013

(Associated Press)

Several weeks from now, the Maryland football team will learn its postseason fate, but Coach Randy Edsall has already begun supplying his stock response in the interim. “You can answer that question now,” he said Tuesday when asked about the team’s possible bowl destination. “No, I have not looked at it.”

Six wins  “doesn’t guarantee anything,” Edsall claimed, even though for a power-conference, bowl-eligible team like the Terrapins it basically guarantees everything. The ACC may overshoot its allotted eight postseason slots – it would have been nine if BYU wasn’t 7-3 and automatically headed to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco — with eight eligible teams and two more within one victory of bowl eligibility.

But should top-ranked Alabama play in the BCS title game, the SEC may struggle to fill its 10 potential slots, with just nine bowl-eligible teams at the moment, two teams that won’t reach six wins and three more that will need to win out. Same goes for the Big 12 and its seven spots, only six of which will be filled by season’s end.

And so analysts can all but pencil in Maryland for its first postseason berth since 2010, many of them plugging the Terps into the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Annapolis against a Conference USA foe like Middle Tennessee State or North Texas or East Carolina, which Maryland trounced, 51-20, in the same game three years ago. (Both the Military Bowl and the AdvoCare v100 Bowl in Shreveport, La., have expressed serious interest in the Terps so far.)

Just don’t ask Edsall to do any penciling. Not right now.

“Six wins just makes you eligible,” he said. “It doesn’t guarantee that you’re going anywhere. I told that to our team. We’re just focused on Boston College. We’ll worry about Boston College and getting prepared, then we’ve got another game the following week. All that stuff doesn’t mean anything until after we conclude our regular season.”

Edsall’s players adopted a similar stance Tuesday afternoon when asked about the postseason. Saturday’s 27-24 victory over Virginia Tech brought widespread joy to a program desperate for positivity, but two remaining games means two remaining opportunities to improve their postseason standing, and that’s where the focus lies.

“It was a huge win for us to get that monkey off our back, to have two games left,” quarterback C.J. Brown said. “Another great opportunity this week to add on and get number seven. … Six just makes you eligible. You’re not guaranteed anything. We’ve got two more. Eight’s ideal obviously. We’re going to focus on this week to get number seven.”

Said defensive back A.J. Hendy: “It was definitely big. It’s the first time we’ve been bowl eligible in a couple years. We’re looking for more, because six doesn’t’ really guarantee you much.”

And linebacker Marcus Whitfield: “We just take this as the next step forward. Looking forward to going out this week in practice and getting ready for BC. … Just trying to get the next win. Nothing too serious.”

Get the message?

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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