Maryland accepted a bid yesterday to play Nevada, a Western Athletic Conference team with the nation's second-ranked running game, in the Humanitarian Bowl on Dec. 30 in Boise, Idaho.
The bid was expected. Officials of the bowl, which has the eighth pick of Atlantic Coast Conference teams, had publicly expressed interest in the Terrapins, who finished 7-5 after losing three of their last four regular-season games.
Many Maryland fans had hoped for a game closer to home, and one in a warm-weather climate. The Terrapins were bypassed for the Chick-fil-A, Gator, Champs Sports, Music City and Meineke Car Care bowls - all of which selected ahead of the Humanitarian Bowl.
"Losing the last two games, we're lucky we're going to a bowl," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said last night. "I asked them [the players] who wants to go to a bowl and who doesn't want to go to a bowl, and they all raised their hands" in favor of going.
Maryland athletic officials had eyed the Meineke game, in particular, because its location in Charlotte, N.C., would have made it convenient for fans to travel to. The Terps took themselves out of the running for a matchup with Navy in the inaugural EagleBank Bowl - which picks ninth - because the Dec. 20 game at Washington's RFK Stadium conflicts with final exams.
Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow said she doesn't know how many Terps fans will travel to Boise. "I'm sure some will - I have no way of knowing how many," Yow said.
Yow acknowledged that Boise "isn't an easy place to get to" but said she was familiar with the city - the men's basketball team won two games of the 2001 NCAA tournament there - and liked it. "The citizens of Boise were incredibly hospitable and friendly," Yow said.
It will be the third season in a row the Terps have played in a bowl game. Maryland beat Purdue in the 2006 Champs Sports Bowl and lost to Oregon State in the Emerald Bowl last season.
This season, Maryland had hoped for a higher-echelon bowl. The team's ambitions for an ACC title - and a possible Orange Bowl bid - were alive until the Terps were routed by Florida State in the second-to-last week of the regular season.
The Humanitarian Bowl last season hosted Fresno State beating Georgia Tech. ACC teams have won three of the past five games. The bowl was founded in 1997 and is played on the blue turf of Boise State's Bronco Stadium.
This year's game is scheduled to be televised by ESPN at 4:30 p.m.
Maryland will begin practice for the game today with two coaching vacancies.
Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh is leaving to accept a similar post at Kansas State, where he formerly worked under head coach Bill Snyder. Special teams coordinator Danny Pearman is returning to Clemson, where he played tight end. Friedgen said yesterday that Al Seamonson, the outside linebackers coach and special teams assistant, would play a greater role with the defense while candidates are evaluated.
Friedgen said he didn't begrudge his assistants leaving. "You want coaches who have the opportunity to advance," he said.
Before selecting the Terps, Humanitarian Bowl officials had eyed a potential matchup of then-undefeated Ball State and undefeated Boise State. But Ball State balked at playing on Boise State's home field, then the Cardinals lost Friday night to Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference title game.
Nevada finished tied for second in the WAC with a 5-3 conference record. The Wolf Pack has two 1,000-yard rushers, including quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
MARYLAND (7-5) vs. NEVADA (7-5)
Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m.
Radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM