COLLEGE PARK — COLLEGE PARK - Maryland and West Virginia, regional rivals not scheduled to meet until the 2010 regular season, could play next month in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.
That's one of numerous bowl scenarios that Maryland fans and athletic officials contemplated yesterday as the Terrapins prepared for their final regular-season game Saturday at No. 20 Boston College.
It's too soon to know to which bowl game the Terps will be invited, but it's not premature to speculate or to create wish lists.
A few bowl options are unlikely, according to university officials:
* Maryland almost certainly won't play in the first EagleBank Bowl on Dec. 20 at RFK Stadium in Washington because it conflicts with final exams. Navy has committed to play in the game.
* The Terrapins probably won't play in the Emerald Bowl on Dec. 27 in San Francisco. The Terps played in the game last season and are not likely to return this year.
Maryland's 37-3 loss to Florida State on Saturday eliminated the Terps from contention for a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game. The winner of that game will play in the Orange Bowl.
A possible Meineke matchup of the Terrapins and Mountaineers - or the Terrapins against Rutgers - has piqued the interest of Maryland officials and Terps fans.
Will Webb, executive director of the Dec. 27 afternoon game, said of Maryland-West Virginia: "It'd be a great matchup. Maryland certainly for us has some appeal. They're close enough to drive, and certainly in this economic environment that's an important consideration. That's more of a factor this year than I ever remember."
The game, scheduled to be on ESPN, pits the No. 3 Big East finisher against an ACC school ranked No. 5, 6 or 7 in the league.
The game has obvious appeal for Maryland. Maryland and West Virginia are strong geographic rivals. It's just the sort of rivalry Terps coach Ralph Friedgen says football is all about.
Although some Terps fans favor warmer-weather bowl sites, others are enticed by the possibility of West Virginia as an opponent.
"Meineke Bowl is best against WVU," one fan wrote to The Baltimore Sun's Tracking the Terps blog. "Terps fans can't travel and it would be packed and a nice rivalry matchup."
Wake Forest beat Connecticut, 24-10, in last year's Meineke game at Bank of America Stadium.
Of course, either West Virginia or Maryland could be picked for other bowls instead. At 4-1 in the Big East, the Mountaineers are a half game ahead of Rutgers in the league and are scheduled to play at Pittsburgh on Friday and against South Florida on Dec. 6.
Maryland could also be paired in the Meineke with Rutgers, a school the Terps play occasionally and compete with for recruits in New Jersey.
Or the Terps could be invited to the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31 in Nashville, Tenn. That game will also feature an ACC team ranked 5, 6 or 7.
An outside shot for the Terps is the Dec. 27 Champs Sports Bowl, which selects fourth from the ACC pool after the Orange, Chick-fil-A and Gator bowls. Maryland beat Purdue, 24-7, in that game two seasons ago in Orlando, Fla.
"That's one of the better bowls we had, and we got a win," tight end Dan Gronkowski said yesterday. "You always want to go somewhere it's warm. We'd come back [to the hotel] and go swimming. So that was good."
The Terps could also wind up in Boise, Idaho, for the Humanitarian Bowl on Dec. 30. That bowl, the farthest away among the bowl possibilities, gets the eighth pick of ACC schools.
MARYLAND (7-4, 4-3) @No. 20 BC (8-3, 4-3)
Time: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
TV: Chs. 2, 7
Radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM
Line: BC by 7