Maryland is set to play Tennessee in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 22 in El Paso and Virginia will play in its first bowl, meeting Purdue in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31 in Atlanta, sources indicated yesterday after a day of dealing and reeling by committees of the 18 postseason bowl games.
Two separate developments took Maryland out of the Aloha Bowl late Saturday night and early Sunday. First, the UCLA-Maryland matchup fell through when UCLA upset Southern Cal and moved up to the nationally televised Fiesta Bowl, where the Bruins will probably play Miami.
Then, it was pretty well understood early yesterday that Maryland would play Notre Dame. That was until the Aloha couldn't get a commitment from the Irish, who decided they might not go to any bowl if they lose to Southern Cal next Saturday.
The Aloha then offered Maryland the chance to play Southern Methodist. The Sun and Alhoa bowls pay approximately the same amount ($400,000), but Maryland, according to sources, found the Sun Bowl more attractive for at least four primary reasons: The game will be televised on CBS, Maryland wanted a rematch with Tennessee (which beat the Terrapins last year in the Citrus Bowl), Maryland will save an estimated $100,000 in expenses and everyone would be home for Christmas.
Maryland might later regret agreeing to play in the Sun because the Holiday Bowl called Maryland officials late yesterday to see if the Terrapins were interested in playing Brigham Young, which should be ranked No. 1 this week, on Dec. 21 in San Diego. However, it was unclear how serious the Holiday officials were about Maryland.
Bids officially can't be extended until after games Saturday. Maryland and Virginia will receive their bids regardless of the result of their ACC championship game Saturday in Charlottesville.
Many bowl scouts had said Saturday night that they would finish their selection process by noon Sunday. But the only bowls that had a decent idea of where they stood by that time were the New Year's Day games, and not even those were absolutely certain.
As of last night, it looked as if the Orange Bowl had settled on eighth-ranked Washington to be its at-large team to play the winner of next week's Oklahoma-Oklahoma State Big Eight championship game.
Nebraska, which will drop from its No. 1 status after Saturday's loss to Oklahoma, apparently is headed to the Sugar Bowl to play the Southeastern Conference champion, which would be Florida if the Gators are spared probation by the conference. If not, Auburn, if it beats Alabama on Dec. 1, would be the SEC representative in New Orleans on Jan. 1. Henry Bodenheimer of the Sugar Bowl committee said, "We are very interested in Nebraska, but that will have to be a committee decision."
Florida, according to the Orlando Sentinel, will be banned from a bowl game, but allowed to retain the conference title at least temporarily. The newspaper reported Florida had agreed and would not file for an injunction to play in a bowl.
The Cotton Bowl appears set to offer an at-large bid to 13th-ranked Boston College (7-2), even though the Eagles could lose at Miami next week, and have another game remaining against Holy Cross. CBS, which televises the Cotton, runs the risk of showing an 8-3 BC team because it figures to have quarterback Doug Flutie, who could be the new Heisman trophy winner. The Southwest Conference representative for the Cotton will be Texas if it can win the league title by beating Baylor and Texas A&M.
The Fiesta, early in the evening, was still talking with Notre Dame about the possibility of a UCLA-Notre Dame game, if the Irish were to beat Southern Cal Saturday in Los Angeles. The Fiesta promises each year that it won't take 8-3 or 7-4 teams the next year, but apparently will overlook records again for the television ratings.
The Rose Bowl, again out of the running to determine the national championship, will have Pac-10 champion Southern Cal against Big Ten winner Ohio State.
The big loser this year appears to be South Carolina. Not only did the Gamecocks' loss to Navy knock them out of the national championship picture, but they will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars by falling out of the New Year's Day lineup and into the Dec. 28 Gator Bowl where the Gamecocks are set to play the loser of Saturday's game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
The confusion surrounding the Orange Bowl began Saturday afternoon when Navy took a 21-7 lead over shocked South Carolina. Just as surprised were the three Orange Bowl scouts in Lincoln, Neb., who were waiting, presumably, for Nebraska to earn its bid by beating Oklahoma.
As Orange Bowl selection committee member Stan Marks said, "What looked pretty rosy last night looks pretty bleak right now." And Marks denied an ABC-TV report that said the Orange Bowl had already worked a deal with South Carolina. "Absolutely not," Marks said. "We weren't born stupid."
The Citrus Bowl will match Florida State against Georgia. UNLV and Toledo will play in the California Bowl. Houston, if it beats Texas Tech Saturday, will play Air Force in the Independence Bowl. Arkansas is set for the Liberty Bowl, and could play Louisiana State, if LSU doesn't make it to the Sugar, or Michigan.
Depending on what happens in the SEC, LSU could otherwise wind up playing Texas Christian in the Bluebonnet. Wisconsin is set to play in the Hall of Fame Bowl, and its opponent could be Kentucky. The Freedom Bowl, in its first year, was still looking at several teams, including Penn State. The Holiday was still searching for an opponent for BYU, and could wind up with Auburn.
Notre Dame, after causing so much suspense, could go anywhere from an outside shot at the Fiesta (if Miami decides to play in the Holiday) all the way down to the inaugural Cherry Bowl, on Dec. 22 in Pontiac, Mich.
If the Irish decide not to go to the Aloha, SMU's opponent in that bowl could be Army. Other possibilities for the Cherry Bowl are West Virginia and Michigan State.