Maryland couldn't catch a break for two months, but the Terps got a big one yesterday, and another outcome in their favor today probably would land them in their first bowl game in five years.
The Terps began the day as the only Atlantic Coast Conference team eligible for the Carquest Bowl, and the status quo was maintained when Georgia Tech blew a 14-0 lead and lost to Georgia, 18-17, on a 34-yard field goal by Kanon Parkman with 47 seconds left.
Georgia Tech finished ahead of Maryland in the ACC and matched its 6-5 overall record, but the Yellow Jackets do not have the bowl requirement of six Division I-A wins.
If the Tar Heels lose, Maryland would most likely land in the Carquest Bowl. If the Tar Heels win, the Carquest would have to choose between Maryland and North Carolina, a decision it might not make until next week.
Brian Flajole, executive director of the Carquest Bowl, said the other spot can be filled with either the ACC's fourth team or a fifth or sixth team from the Southeastern Conference, but added the bowl is leaning heavily toward selecting an ACC team.
"If North Carolina wins, we'll continue to lobby and hope for the best," Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow said. "I was a coach and recruiter. In effect, we're recruiting the Carquest Bowl."
Yow would mention Maryland's 32-18 victory over North Carolina and its agreement with the Carquest Bowl to move its 1996 game against Florida State from Byrd Stadium to Joe Robbie Stadium.
Negative factors against the Terps are a late-season slide that saw them lose four of their last five games, and North Carolina's track record of selling bowl tickets.
Yow spoke from Springfield, Mass., where the men's basketball team is playing Kentucky today. Yow worked for Florida and Kentucky, and admitted it felt funny rooting for Southeastern Conference rival Georgia yesterday. She will have no trouble today cheering on N.C. State, since her sister Kay is the Wolfpack women's basketball coach.
The Carquest Bowl would be the Terps' first bowl game since the 1990 Independence Bowl, and only their second postseason game since 1985.
Maryland appeared well on its way to a bowl when it started 4-0, but when the turnover margin went the other way, so did its record.
"I hate sitting on the other end, waiting for something to happen, but that's the way it is," coach Mark Duffner said yesterday. "The Georgia Tech outcome was part one of what needed to happen. We'll be watching North Carolina-N.C. State very closely today."
The ACC has four bowl contracts. Florida State is headed to one of the Alliance games, the Gator selected Clemson and the Peach took Virginia.