After days of behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing, the football bowl picture was clarified yesterday, with sources saying that, by winning Saturday, Maryland would likely play in the Tangerine Bowl against Florida and Navy in the Garden State Bowl against Houston.
However, a number of the likely pairings could fall apart if the teams involved are upset Saturday -- the day when bids are officially offered. The major bowl pairings will depend on who wins the Alabama-Notre Dame game.
Maryland Athletic Director Jim Kehoe said three bowls -- Tangerine, Garden State and Peach -- have requested credentials to send representatives to Saturday's Clemson game. "We'll take the first firm offer that comes our way," Kehoe said.
Representatives of the Garden State, Peach and Hall of Fame bowls are expected to attend Navy's game with Georgia Tech.
As far as the major bowls are concerned, a Notre Dame-Georgia matchup is considered likely in the Sugar Bowl if the Irish win Saturday and Georgia, currently ranked No. 1, wins the Southeastern Conference. Otherwise, Notre Dame probably will end up in the Orange Bowl against the Big Eight champion, likely to be Nebraska or Oklahoma, and Alabama would play Georgia, whom it doesn't meet in Southeastern Conference regular-season play.
The same sources say that Florida State likely will play Baylor, which needs only to win or tie one of its two remaining games in the Southwest Conference, in the Cotton Bowl. The Rose Bowl will take the Big Ten champion, likely to be either Michigan or Ohio State, against the Pacific-10 (minus five ineligibles) representative, likely to be Washington.
With bids going out in less than 48 hours, here is how the other bowls shape up:
Gator: South Carolina against Pittsburgh or Penn State.
Fiesta: Michigan-Ohio State loser against Pittsburgh or Penn State.
Liberty: Missouri against Purdue.
Bluebonnet: North Carolina against Texas.
Garden State: Navy or Maryland against Houston.
Tangerine: Maryland against Florida, with Clemson possibly replacing the Terps if the Tigers win Saturday.
Sun: Mississippi State against Oklahoma.
Holiday: Southern Methodist against the Western Athletic Conference champion, probably Brigham Young, possibly Colorado State.
Hall of Fame: Tulane or Southern Mississippi against a team to be determined among, likely, Stanford, Indiana, Minnesota or Navy.
Peach: Louisiana State against a team to be determined, with Navy and Maryland among those still being mentioned.
Independence: McNeese State against Southern Mississippi, San Jose State or Virginia Tech.