COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland became bowl-eligible two weeks ago when the Terps clinched a winning record in the regular season with a victory at North Carolina State. Now athletic director Debbie Yow is going to ask Maryland fans to help the cause.
Maryland (6-4, 4-3), concludes its regular season Saturday with an Atlantic Coast Conference game at No. 6 Florida State (8-1, 6-1). With an outside chance at a berth in either the Carquest, Independence or Liberty bowls, Maryland is in the process of sending bowl ticket applications to its season-ticket holders.
"What we're asking is that they purchase tickets for a bowl, in the hope that we'll be selected for one of those three," Yow said. "In that way, we'll have something substantial to share with the folks at those three bowls. We have the reputation in the past that we don't travel well, and we'd like to change that."
If Maryland isn't selected for a bowl, Yow said the money collected will go toward season tickets for next year. Yow has previously said that for Maryland to break even on one of those three bowls, which have payouts of $750,000, it needs to sell 4,500 tickets.
Maryland has been to only one bowl game in the past nine seasons, the Independence in Shreveport, La., in 1990. The Terps are 33-point underdogs to Florida State, and a loss there would give them five defeats in the last seven games, but coach Mark Duffner asks the bowls to look at where his team began.
"If they'll look closely, they'll clearly see a team on the rise," Duffner said. "This is our best record in 10 years. We've had a 48 percent increase in attendance [at Byrd Stadium], and that shows a great following. When you look at what this team started with, not a lot of people thought we could have a winning season."
The Terps are one of three teams competing for the ACC's berth in the Carquest, but the other two need to win their remaining games to reach the bowl requirement of six Division I-A wins.
If Georgia Tech beats Georgia on Thanksgiving Day, the Yellow Jackets probably will get the Carquest bid; if they lose, they're out of the bowl picture. If that's the case, and North Carolina beats Duke and N.C. State, then the Carquest would have to choose between the Tar Heels and Terps.
Yow is also politicking the Independence and Liberty bowls, but both are hoping that bigger names, like Air Force, Baylor, Wisconsin, UCLA and even Notre Dame, are available.
In addition to an at-large berth, the Independence's other spot is committed to the fifth choice from the Southeastern Conference, but the SEC may not be that deep in bowl-eligible teams. The Liberty will match East Carolina against the fourth team from the Big East, but West Virginia must win at Miami to qualify.
The Terps, meanwhile, don't care where they finish, as long as it's in a bowl.
"I've been part of a building process, but it's still not complete," said slot receiver Richard Roberts, a co-captain. "Not going to a bowl game would make it a disappointing season."
* Joe F. Blair, Maryland's football publicist emeritus, is out of intensive care, and has been moved by air ambulance from Louisville, Ky., to a hospital in Pittsburgh. Blair suffered a stroke Oct. 27.