CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - After watching his team lose Saturday for the third time in four games, Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen was left guessing yesterday - just as Terrapins fans were - which bowl the team might be invited to.
In a 20-minute media conference call, Friedgen mentioned four bowls the Terps could play in - each with Atlantic Coast Conference tie-ins. He didn't dismiss the possibility that Maryland could be invited to an at-large game without an ACC link.
While Friedgen didn't play favorites, it was evident from interviews with other school officials that the Terps would like to play in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 27 in Charlotte, N.C. The game, close enough for fans from the Baltimore/Washington area to drive to, could pit the Terps against border rival West Virginia.
The Music City, Meineke and Emerald bowls have the fifth, sixth and seventh picks of ACC schools, respectively.
Then comes the Humanitarian Bowl and the brand-new EagleBank Bowl in Washington. Maryland won't play in the EagleBank Bowl because it conflicts with final exams. The Terps probably won't play in the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco because they went there last season.
In the interest of positioning itself, Maryland will try this week to make its best case for being among the top five or six teams in the ACC.
"You have four teams that are 5-3 in the conference and another four or five that are 4-4," Friedgen said. Actually, six teams finished 4-4.
"Of those 4-4 teams, we beat everyone but Miami, and we didn't play Miami," the coach said. "As I look at it, we should be no worse than fifth in the conference. I would hope that would give us a leg up."
Bowl games don't look only at records. They also examine how many fans schools are likely to attract and how large their television markets are. Maryland stacks up well in those departments. A negative is that the Terps finished the season poorly.
"We have so much talent on this team," senior wide receiver Danny Oquendo said after Maryland dropped to 7-5 overall with the loss to Boston College, which secured a berth in the ACC title game Saturday against Virginia Tech.
"For some reason, we can't close it out sometimes," Oquendo said.
Junior quarterback Chris Turner echoed Oquendo's sentiments, saying the Terps are better than their 7-5 mark suggests. "We beat a lot of good teams. That's the frustrating thing," Turner said.
The Terps might have to wait until as late as Sunday night to know which bowl game wants them.
Friedgen also mentioned the Champs Sports Bowl. The bowl gets the fourth pick of ACC schools.
Trailing 21-7, Maryland went for it on fourth-and-four from Boston College's 33-yard line. Turner dodged a tackler and hit Oquendo for a first down. Oquendo caught a touchdown pass four plays later.
With the Terps down 21-14, Turner threw an interception that Robert Francois returned 36 yards for a touchdown. Friedgen said this play - and Boston College's fake field-goal play for a touchdown - were keys to the game.
The Terps (7-5, 4-4) can only wait and see whether a bowl game comes calling - and which one.