For the third straight season, Maryland football is bowl-eligible.
The Terps secured their sixth win of the season — the minimum required for postseason eligibility — with a 13-10 win over Nebraska on Saturday on a last-second field goal. It’s the first time Maryland has won six or more games in three straight seasons since 2006 to 2008 under former coach Ralph Friedgen.
The Terps (6-4, 3-4 Big Ten) still have two games left against No. 3 Michigan and Rutgers, but it’s not too early for bowl projections. While bowl games will be announced after the conference championship games on Dec. 3, here’s a look at where the experts are predicting Maryland to play this postseason.
CBS Sports projects: Guaranteed Rate Bowl vs. West Virginia
Where: Chase Field, Phoenix
When: Dec. 26, 9 p.m., ESPN
Maryland last played West Virginia in 2021, a continuation of a bitter regional rivalry that dates to 1919. Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns that day, a 30-24 victory, but few players remain on both teams.
The Mountaineers (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) started this season with a 38-15 loss at Penn State but rebounded to win four straight and six of their next eight before suffering a blowout loss to Oklahoma on Saturday. They’re led by dual-threat quarterback Garrett Greene, who has passed for 1,699 yards with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions while rushing for 451 yards and eight scores.
Coach Neal Brown started his fifth season on the hot seat, but the program has shown improvement this year, climbing to No. 53 in efficiency according to ESPN’s SP+ after finishing 5-7 last season.
CBS’ updated projections after Week 12 has the Terps facing Kansas in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl. ESPN also projects Maryland to meet West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 29 at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee.
247 Sports projects: Guaranteed Rate Bowl vs. Texas Tech
This would be the first matchup between the Terps and Red Raiders.
After an upset win over Kansas, Texas Tech (5-5, 4-3 Big 12) is putting together another solid season under coach Joey McGuire, a former high school coach who has made important progress with in-state recruiting. The Red Raiders have weathered the loss of Oregon transfer quarterback Tyler Shough to a broken collarbone in Week 4 thanks to sophomore Behren Morton, who has thrown for 1,154 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Tahj Brooks has also emerged as one of the nation’s best running backs, ranking fifth in the nation with 116.6 rushing yards per game. The passing game is more egalitarian, with five players catching at least 20 passes led by Myles Price’s 43 receptions for 410 yards.
ESPN projects: ReliaQuest Bowl vs. Auburn
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
When: Jan. 1, noon, ESPN2
Maryland is 1-2 all-time against Auburn, with the most recent matchup a 35-23 win by the No. 3 Tigers over the visiting No. 7 Terps on Nov. 5, 1983.
The last time Maryland faced a Southeastern Conference opponent was a 30-3 win over Tennessee in the Peach Bowl at the end of the 2002 season. The Terps lost to Florida, 56-23, in the Orange Bowl the previous year.
Maryland could see a familiar face in Auburn quarterback Payton Thorne, who transferred from Michigan State to play for first-year coach Hugh Freeze. Thorne is 1-1 in two career meetings against the Terps, throwing for a combined 508 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. He’s been solid with the Tigers, passing for 1,432 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions while rushing for a career-high 425 yards and three scores.
The Tigers (6-4, 3-4 SEC) hit a rough patch in SEC play, losing their first four conference games, but have rebounded to win three straight over bottom-feeders Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Arkansas.
After Week 12, College Football News expects Maryland to face Notre Dame in the ReliaQuest Bowl. Athlon Sports also projects the Terps to meet Auburn in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.
Sporting News projects: First Responder Bowl vs. Iowa State
Where: Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas
When: Dec. 26, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
This would be another new opponent for Maryland.
The Cyclones (6-4, 5-2 Big 12) have not been able to build on the success of their historic 2020 season, when they finished as Big 12 runner-up and won the Fiesta Bowl over Oregon behind future NFL players Brock Purdy, Breece Hall and Charlie Kolar, but have bounced back from a dreadful 2022 season.
After finishing 4-8 overall and 1-8 in conference play last year and opening this season 2-3, Iowa State has won four of its past five games, including a 45-13 blowout of BYU, to become bowl-eligible.
The Cyclones are led by one of the nation’s best defenses, which ranks 10th in efficiency according to ESPN’s SP+ and has allowed an average of 16.6 points over the past five games.
On offense, quarterback Rocco Becht has stepped in for suspended starter Hunter Dekkers and thrown for 2,121 yards with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Freshman Abu Sama III has been the big-play threat on the ground, averaging 6.6 yards per carry after rushing for a season-high 110 yards and two touchdowns against BYU.