Midway through November, Maryland had lost three straight games and it began to look as if the team might never pick up its sixth win and become bowl eligible.
The turnover-prone Terps had just lost at home to Syracuse, 20-3, in a game in which Maryland players conceded the team appeared flat.
Maryland's outlook has changed dramatically since then.
A team that had never won a game in November under third-year coach Randy Edsall went on to win two of its last three in the regular season. The first victory — an upset of Virginia Tech in overtime on Nov. 16 — made the Terps bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010 and sent Edsall bounding jubilantly across the field in celebration.
The next win — Saturday's 41-21 victory over North Carolina State — left Maryland (7-5, 3-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) feeling upbeat to end the regular season.
"We've overcome a lot of adversity – a lot of adversity," Edsall said Sunday. "Not just injuries, but things people say and people write. This team has really come together and accomplished some good things this year, despite all that adversity."
The victory over N.C. State made the Terps more secure that they will be selected for a postseason game.
Maryland's most likely options remain the Military Bowl (Dec. 27 in Annapolis) and the AdvoCare V100 Bowl (Dec. 31 in Shreveport, La.). Representatives from both bowls have scouted the Terps.
The Military Bowl is too close to campus to be considered an exotic experience for players, but it's favored by many alumni and fans because it would be convenient and inexpensive. Many bowl activities will be held in Washington, D.C.
Maryland's Military Bowl prospects dimmed a bit when Syracuse defeated Boston College on Saturday. The victory made the Orange bowl-eligible, adding another team to the mix and complicating the selection process.
"We're in a great spot," Military Bowl president and executive director Steve Beck said in a text message Sunday. "Of course, we have interest in Maryland and think the Terps would enjoy our game. But we're also looking at our other ACC options and are looking forward to a terrific game. It is a good situation to be in."
There are more bowl-eligible ACC teams (11) than bowl games aligned with the conference. The ACC has either eight or nine slots, depending on whether Clemson lands a BCS bid.
The ACC bowl representatives pick teams in predetermined order. After the Orange Bowl gets the ACC champion, the Chick-fil-A Bowl gets its pick of the rest. Then comes the Russell Athletic Bowl. After that, the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., and the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., make bids for the ACC teams they want. After that come the AdvoCare V100 Bowl and the Military Bowl.
ACC teams that don't land in a conference-affiliated bowl game can be selected for an at-large berth in another game.
Now that the regular season is over, Terps coaches are heading out on recruiting trips and beginning to contemplate bowl possibilities.
"Once we find out where we're going to be going, I'll be able to put together our schedule," Edsall said.
For the first time in three years, Maryland players get to enjoy speculating about the postseason. "We're just excited we're going to be headed to a bowl," linebacker Matt Robinson said.
The Terps' last bowl experience was the Military Bowl in December 2010.
"It's another opportunity to play another game and be with my brothers and get the energy flying," defensive end Andre Monroe said.
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