As the Maryland football team awaits its postseason fate, a local trip to the Military Bowl in Annapolis remains the most likely option, though much of the landscape remains uncertain.
Everything hinges on the results of Saturdayâ€™s ACC championship between Florida State and Duke. If the currently undefeated Seminoles win â€“ they are four-touchdown favorites over the upstart Blue Devils â€“ then they will head to the BCS championship game and everything proceeds accordingly, with virtually every projection calling for Clemson to reach the Orange Bowl as an at-large candidate. And even if the Seminoles lose and Duke gains the ACCâ€™s automatic bid into the BCS, Florida State would stand a good chance of receiving a BCS at-large bid, with Clemson getting knocked down.
Assuming two ACC teams make BCS bowls, that leaves nine bowl-eligible teams to fill the ACCâ€™s seven contracted slots after the BCS wraps up its selections. Given the Terrapinsâ€™ 7-5 overall record and 3-5 in-conference mark, they likely won’t be selected any higher than seventh — to the AdvoCare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, La.
That said, if the Military Bowlâ€™s turn arrives next Sunday and Maryland is still available, the Terps likely will head to Annapolis.
â€śI canâ€™t tell you 100-percent sure that we would pick them, but I would think so,â€ť Military Bowl executive director Steve Beck said in a telephone interview, when asked about the likelihood of inviting the Terrapins, if they hadn’t already been picked elsewhere.
CBSSports.com, SBNation, Sports Illustrated and ESPN.com all project Maryland into the Military Bowl, where it beat East Carolina in 2010, and Beck has no problem scheduling a rematch. The Pirates finished their regular season 9-3, but lost to Marshall in the finale and missed out on the Conference USA championship game.
â€śI think thatâ€™d be pretty cool, especially because East Carolina beat N.C. State, they beat North Carolina, played Virginia Tech very close,â€ť Beck said. â€śI wouldnâ€™t be afraid of that at all.â€ť
The winner of Marshall-Rice goes to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. If Marshall wins, the Pirates are the Military Bowlâ€™s logical choice. If Rice wins, Beck has a decision to make.
â€śOne thing I can tell you: Itâ€™s not going to be North Texas,â€ť Beck said, indirectly referencing the CBSSports projections that have the Mean Green headed to Annapolis.
Unlike past years, the Military Bowl will choose from a surplus of bowl-eligible ACC schools, and Beck speculated â€śit probably will be down to Boston College, Maryland, Syracuse and Pittsburgh.â€ť
â€śWeâ€™re going to have a choice of three or four teams,â€ť he said. â€śItâ€™s terrific. Theyâ€™re all good to great for us. Weâ€™re in a great position of having our contracts to fill, whereas in the past five years, weâ€™ve only fulfilled four times. So this is a tremendously better spot to be in. Both of them are going to fulfill with quality teams and teams that can travel also.â€ť
Bowl games anticipated to be saddled with unfilled spots due to a dearth of eligible teams, like the Heart of Dallas Bowl and the Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit â€“ both with Big Ten contracts — will pick from the leftovers on Sunday. It remains possible Maryland could fill a Big Ten spot, but still unlikely the Terps slip past the Military Bowl. With the local fan base, they would be a natural fit.
â€śIf it was down to them,â€ť Beck said, when asked about choosing between Maryland, Syracuse and Pittsburgh, â€śweâ€™d probably go to the regional team.â€ť