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Maryland football bowl projections: Where the Terps might play after 5-3 start

With a 38-35 victory over Indiana on Saturday, Maryland football moved one win away from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2016.

The Terps (5-3, 2-3 Big Ten) still have tough games left against Penn State, No. 3 Michigan State, No. 7 Michigan and Rutgers to close the season, so it’s not guaranteed coach Mike Locksley’s squad will get that elusive sixth victory. But some experts are already including the Terps in their bowl projections.

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Here’s a look at where Maryland might play this postseason:

The Action Network, CBS Sports, On3 project: Quick Lane Bowl vs. Northern Illinois

Where: Ford Field, Detroit

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When: Dec. 27, 11 a.m.

This is the most popular pick, and it should be familiar to Terps fans. Maryland’s last bowl game appearance was a 36-30 loss to Boston College in the Quick Lane Bowl in coach DJ Durkin’s first season. Quarterback Perry Hills threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns and running back Ty Johnson — now starring for the New York Jets — rushed for 159 yards and two scores to help Maryland cut a 23-7 deficit to six with 2:55 left, but the Eagles held on for their first bowl win since 2007. The Terps had four turnovers and 11 penalties, and the Boston College defensive line was awarded the game’s Most Valuable Player award for piling up eight sacks.

Northern Illinois’ head coach should be familiar to football fans in Baltimore. Thomas Hammock, who coached the Ravens running backs from 2014 to 2018 under John Harbaugh, is off to his best start in Year 3 at the helm of the Mid-American Conference program. The Huskies are 6-2, including a 22-21 season-opening win over Georgia Tech. Not surprisingly given Hammock’s expertise, NIU is one of the best rushing teams in the country, ranking ninth nationally with 232.5 rushing yards per game.

ESPN projects: Guaranteed Rate Bowl vs. West Virginia

Where: Chase Field, Phoenix

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When: Dec. 28, 10:15 p.m.

For fans who might want to enjoy some warm weather during the holiday season, this might be a more appealing destination. It would be the Terps’ first journey out West since a 45-21 loss to Stanford in the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, California, on Dec. 30, 2014.

In this scenario, the Terps would have a rematch of their season opener, a 30-24 win over the Mountaineers in College Park. After a long hiatus once Maryland left the Atlantic Coast Conference for the Big Ten, this rivalry would get not one, but two games in one calendar year. Surely Scott McBrien would approve.

247 Sports also projects the Terps to play in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, but against Kansas State. The Wildcats are 5-3 overall and 2-3 in the Big 12, including back-to-back wins over Texas Tech and TCU.

The Athletic, Athlon Sports project: New Era Pinstripe Bowl vs. Virginia

Where: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York

When: Dec. 29, 2:15 p.m.

There are worse ways to spend a holiday weekend than watching a football game at an iconic venue. To make it even more intriguing, the Terps would face off against their old ACC rival. The last time these teams met was in 2013, a 27-26 Maryland comeback win behind quarterback Caleb Rowe. This year’s game would be a lot more interesting, with Terps star Taulia Tagovailoa facing off against Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong, one of the nation’s leading passers.

Meanwhile, Sporting News projects another meeting with a former ACC rival in the Pinstripe, this time against Virginia Tech. The Hokies have had an up-and-down season, starting 3-1 before losing three straight. If things don’t turn around quickly, coach Justin Fuente might not be in charge when this game kicks off.

PENN STATE@MARYLAND

Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

TV: FS1 Radio: 105.7 FM

Line: Penn State by 10 ½

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