Maryland's loss to Clemson Saturday may have cost the Terrapins the Atlantic Coast Conference championship, but it did not scare away bowl scouts.
Maryland, with a victory at Virginia Saturday, sources close to the team say, will be invited to the Aloha Bowl to play UCLA of the Pacific-10 Conference on Christmas Day in Honolulu.
The Terrapins, if they can beat Virginia an 11th straight time, would end the season 8-3 overall, 5-1 in the ACC.
If Maryland and UCLA meet in the Aloha Bowl, it would be a festive week for the two schools, whose teams play a basketball game here at Cole Field House Dec. 23.
There is an outside chance Texas, of the Southwest Conference, could replace UCLA if the Bruins defeat Southern California Saturday and Arizona State is beaten by Arizona Nov. 27. That would make UCLA the Pacific-10 runner-up and a candidate to play in the Fiesta Bowl.
Even if the Terrapins lose Saturday in Charlotte, they possibly could be invited to the Aloha or the Tangerine bowl.
Aloha Bowl officials also have expressed interest in Ohio State of the Big Ten. But the Rose Bowl has exclusive rights to postseason competition matching a Big Ten school and a Pacific-10 school.
The Aloha is seeking an East Coast-West Coast matchup to get the most from its television audience. The game, to be played in 50,000-seat Aloha Stadium, already has been sold by Rockville-based Metrosports to approximately 100 television stations, ESPN and two of the largest independent networks in the nation, WOR in New York and WGN in Chicago.
Dick Dull, director of athletics at Maryland, has said that the recruiting benefits of television exposure will be one factor used to decide which bowl bid to accept, if more than one is received after Saturday's game.
The first tie breaker, Dull said, is a vote by the players. The Terrapins have ignored most of the bowl speculation in recent days. But several have said that a vote, should it come to that, would be merely a formality in favor of going to Hawaii and the Aloha Bowl.
The Tangerine Bowl, which has had scouts at the Terrapins' last four games, is interested in Maryland playing Auburn in Orlando, Fla. However, the Terrapins are lukewarm to the Tangerine because they already are scheduled to play a game at Auburn next Nov. 5.
The Sun Bowl had expressed interest in Maryland playing Washington of the Pacific-10. But Washington upset third-ranked and previously unbeaten Arizona State late Saturday night and will go to the Rose Bowl if it defeats Washington State, as it is favored to do, next Saturday.
What slim chances the Terrapins had of going to a New Year's Day bowl ended Saturday as their rally against Clemson fell short and they lost, 24-22, before the fourth largest crowd in Byrd Stadium history.
Maryland had trouble defensively in the first half, as the Tigers rolled to a 14-0 lead.
"We broke down in our option responsibilities a few times," Coach Bobby Ross said yesterday.
But it was the Terrapins' five turnovers in the second half, two coming in the last three minutes, that did the most to prevent them from winning their first ACC title since 1976.
Center Vince Tomasetti still hopes for a tie. "Maybe Wake Forest can dump Clemson in Tokyo (Nov. 27) and we'll share it," he said.