Maryland seeks to salvage a lost season and Minnesota will try to make up for lost seasons when the teams incet Thursday in the first Hall of Fame Bowl (8 p.m., WDCA-TV-20).
Both squads are 7-4 and there the similarities end. For the Terrapins, this will be a fifth straight bowl appearance, capping a rather poor season in which they failed to win the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the first time in four years.
Minnesota played a harder schedule in a more prestigious football conference, the Big 10, but hasn't gone to a presented a negligible pass attack dur-they beat UCLA in the Rose Bowl.
Maryland is considered a seven point favorite on the strength of a more diversified offense. Both teams have strong defenses, but Minnesota presented a neglibile pass attack during the year and had trouble near the goal line.
The Terps also have experience on their side. While Maryland starts two seniors at quarterback and wide receiver, Minnesota has no seniors in offensive skill positions. Quarterbacking was a question mark all year.
"Lack of experience rears its ugly head on occassion," said Minnesota coach Cal Stoll.
"Maryland's quarterbacks have seniority. Ours go the wrong way once in a while.
"Our problem is we're playing a team that's bowl-wise. We hope we know what we're doing."
Maryland coach Jerry Claiborne isn't taking Stoll's worrying too seriously.
"I don't think our last four bowls will have anything to do with it. It's how you play on a certain day," said Claiborne. "Sometimes you're hungrier in your first howl."
Minnesota offensive guard Desi Williamson, who claims he caused the 16-0 upset of Wolverines with his gushing, bloody nose, feels the Gophers will be more inspired.
"For them, this might be repititious, but we haven't been to a bowl in 16 years," said Williamson. "For us, this is a chance to put Minnesota on the map. We've ben in so many situations with our backs against the wall. This is a chance for us to come out any play on national television as one of the better teams in America."
Minnesota passed for only 640 yards, but Stoll feels the Gophers must throw if they are going to beat Maryland.
Their best offensive effort has come from fullback Kent Kitzman, who each of the last two games. But it was all up the middle, and Stoll isn't counting on that roa dbeing open Thursday.
Wendell Avery started at Quarterback the first four games and the last three, but there were widespread rumors gaining speed today that Stoll will start Mark Carlson, Minnesota's passer.
"I think they'll try to thow more against us, run more counters," said Claiborne. "Their kicker won four of their seven games for them. They haven't scored many touchdowns (16) but they also haven't given up many (20). The key to the game will be the defenses."
Minnesota's standout linebacker, Steve Stewart, had a similiar sentiment.
"Our offense is young and we know we have to make up for that on defense," said Stewart. "The defense has seven guys who have started for three years. So we know what each can do."
When Stoll made wholesale changes following a humiliating loss to Iowa, Williamson was moved from defensive end to offensive guard to shore up the weak line. Apparently, the line is still not a model of consistency.
"When you think of an offensive line, you think of a precision group of five guys, moving in all the right direftions," said Williamson. "Our line reminds me of a bunch of misfits. Wepre like a small army, us against them. Our techniques many not be perfect, but we're looking at it as a man-to-man challenge against the guy in the Maryland uniform."
For Maryland, this game offers an opportunity to win a big game for the first time since the opener at Clemson, Maryland's only impressive contest this year.
Quarterback Mark Manges has recovered from the broekn throwing hand that sidelined him and he will [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]
Maryland was consistent htis season in only one area - putting bodies in the infirmery. After losing 25 first or second-string players, the Terps return Manges and defensive halfback Doug Harbert but still are without starters Steve Atkins at tailback, Vince Kinney at receiver and Ernie Salley at defensive tackle.
Senior offensive lineman Mike Yeates says a Maryland victory would help enhance the team's image.
"When the pressure's on us, something happens," said Yeates, referring to losses to Penn State, North Carolina. "I feel this would do a lot of good play, although Larry Dick will start for our team. The pressure's on both teams, really. People are saying, "These are two 7-4 teams - what are they doing here?"
"We're out to redeem our season for the people who feel we can't do anything in a big game."
Taking it a step further than just Maryland's image, many see the game as an opportunity to enhance the reputation of the quality of football in the ACC, known more for its basketball.
"This is a matter of pride and respectability for our program and our conference," said Claiborne. "Unless you're 11-0 and playing to help determine a national champion (as Maryland was last year), this is what its about.
"Right now our football conference, from top to bottom, is not as well respected as a conference like the Big 10. But the ACC teams in bowls (Maryland, North Carolina, N.C. State and Clemson) can play with anybody.
"To me, this game s a reward for our players. And 8-4 looks a lot better than 7-5."