ACC coaches and bowl representatives have spent weeks marveling at the league's convoluted postseason outlook, which could still involve up to 75 percent of the ACC's 12 teams. Maryland's situation is as messy as any; with a 5-4 record entering Saturday's home game against No. 23 Boston College, the Terps could miss a bowl entirely, head west to Boise or wind up in a sunny location like Orlando.
"That thing's like linear algebra," Maryland wide receiver Danny Melendez said. "I have no idea how it's going to map out. All I know is we need to win this next game and then go on from there."
Bowl representatives have taken a similar outlook, saying it's still too early and too confusing to make any projections, but several potential scenarios have emerged.
One roadblock to the annual guessing game is Virginia Tech's possible selection as an at-large team in the Bowl Championship Series, which would bump every ACC team up a slot. The ACC is one of six conferences guaranteed a slot in the BCS, which then adds two at-large selections to fill out its four games.
But assume for a moment that the Hokies are passed over by the BCS in favor of Notre Dame and either Ohio State, Alabama or Oregon. Virginia Tech would then almost certainly head to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., and Florida State, if it can beat Florida next week, would be in line for a Peach Bowl invitation.
Next comes the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, where representatives hope to land an ACC team with at least seven wins and some late-season momentum. The Terps could qualify on both accounts by beating Boston College and then N.C. State in their finale. Other strong possibilities for Orlando include Boston College (7-3) and Clemson (6-4), which beat Maryland earlier this year. Virginia and Georgia Tech are each 6-3, but both have two remaining games against ranked opponents.
The Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte has the fifth pick of ACC teams, while the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise chooses sixth. Officials with the latter game prefer to invite teams that have not visited Idaho within the last two years, which makes Clemson, Maryland or N.C. State their most likely targets.
If N.C. State wins against Middle Tennessee State this week, the ACC -- which has six guaranteed bowl slots -- will wind up with at least eight bowl-eligible teams.
Saturday's game will be the Terps' fifth sellout of the season, and Maryland's average per-game attendance likely will be the highest in school history. Maryland has averaged 52,636 fans through four home games this season; the school record, set last year, is 51,410.
That makes the Terps' 1-3 home record all the more confusing, especially after they went 23-3 at home in Coach Ralph Friedgen's first four years. One explanation is the strength of their opponents; the Eagles will be the fourth of five visiting teams to arrive at Byrd Stadium with a national ranking.
It's All in Wilson's Head
Cornerback Josh Wilson was filled with one-liners about the concussion he suffered last week against North Carolina, saying he scored higher on a memory test administered by trainers afterward than he had before the injury, and that his mother suggested perhaps the concussion "knocked some things in place."
But he admitted the concussion was one of the scariest moments of his football career. He felt like he couldn't move his limbs when he first awoke, and said the injury helped him put football in perspective. Both Wilson and safety Milton Harris, who was knocked unconscious three weeks ago against Florida State, have continued to wear their hospital bands since their injuries.
"It's a reminder: Don't take anything for granted," Wilson said. "Make sure that even if I don't go to the next level, that I enjoyed myself and I had fun playing football." . . .
Wide receiver Drew Weatherly, who did not practice last week, also because of a concussion, returned to practice Monday night. As expected, cornerback Isaiah Gardner (groin) has not yet practiced this week.