In beating Florida State on Saturday, Maryland joined a pack of five other ACC teams with four wins apiece, each vying for two remaining bowl berths.
Maryland (4-4, 2-3) needs two wins in its final three games to become bowl eligible. Six bowl games reserve slots for ACC teams, and four teams -- Miami, Florida State, Virginia and Virginia Tech -- already have reached the six-win threshold. The remaining teams congested in the conference -- Maryland, North Carolina State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and North Carolina -- will spend November trying to claim a berth in bowl games likely either in Boise, Idaho, or Charlotte.
The Terps have one of the tougher roads to a bowl game because they must beat either Virginia or Virginia Tech, or both, on the road. Also remaining is a game against Wake Forest -- which nearly beat Florida State -- at Byrd Stadium in the final week of the season.
Suddenly, though, the season was reborn after Saturday's improbable upset.
A fourth straight bowl game? An eight-win season? Why not? "I told the kids this is a start," Coach Ralph Friedgen said, "not the finish." Saturday, somewhere in the middle of the bedlam at the center of the field, Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden and Friedgen found each other after Maryland beat Florida State, 20-17. There, Bowden told Friedgen, "Your offense looked like it used to."
Coaches are optimistic that Maryland is not far from consistently finding offensive success. In one regard, the Terps are two plays away from being 6-2. They lost a turnover-plagued 19-16 overtime game at West Virginia on Sept. 18. They lost a controversial 10-7 game at Clemson on Oct. 23, after which the ACC affirmed that the officiating was flawed, according to Friedgen.
Regardless of what happens, Maryland's season will be remembered as the year the streak ended. The Terps were 0-14 against Florida State before Saturday. Players were so focused on beating the Seminoles that they earmarked the game even before Maryland played the Tigers.
"I brought up that we had to beat Florida State," senior cornerback Domonique Foxworth said, "and that we mark that on the calendar."
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Maryland's offensive resurrection, aside from the poise of quarterback Joel Statham, was the play of the wide receivers, many of whom had dropped passes the week before against Clemson. Saturday, receivers had receptions of 72, 39, 33, 26 and 20 yards. They either were surprisingly open or proved difficult to tackle in the open field.
"I told the receivers I wanted them to play aggressively," Friedgen said. "I didn't want them to be happy catching it and falling down. We were not going to play scared."
Terrapins Notes: Maryland's game at Virginia on Saturday will take place at 3:30 p.m. and be televised on ABC. . . .
Free safety Ray Custis is questionable for Saturday's game with a groin injury.