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Maryland failed to take advantage of big opportunity vs. Rutgers

Maryland senior inside linebacker L.A. Goree sat in the press box at Byrd Stadium two weeks ago and detailed the Terps' primary goal for the final two games

And the Terps were so close to accomplishing that goal before the collapse during Saturday's 41-38 loss to Rutgers.

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Maryland wanted to play in a warm-weather bowl game, one reserved for the better teams in the Big Ten, that would have provided the Terps with a chance to further establish their viability as a football program.

In addition to the loss Saturday — and the 25-point lead that Rutgers overcame — that is what makes Saturday's result so disappointing for Maryland.

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A win would have secured an 8-4 regular season, a 5-3 mark inside the conference and likely a trip to a respected bowl game. The loss makes the Terps more likely bound to end up in a game such as the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit that's far less likely to excite a fan base.

"It was very disappointing," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. "Anybody would rather be 8-4 than 7-5. But we're 7-5. But the great thing about it is that we've still got another game to play."

Edsall reminded players of that during the Terps' meeting Sunday while emphasizing to the team that Saturday's loss does not diminish what Maryland accomplished this season.

While expressing disappointment over the loss, Edsall also made a point to remind the media of the Terps' accomplishments in conversations both Saturday night and Sunday.

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The fourth-year coach noted that Maryland secured back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2003, finished with a 5-1 record on the road and had wins against perennial Big Ten powers Michigan and Penn State.

"Those are all good accomplishments," Edsall said. "I wish we would have won [Saturday]. But we still have a lot of things that were very positive, and that's what I told our kids."

The problem is that Terps athletic director Kevin Anderson hired Edsall in 2011 with the hope that the former Connecticut coach could help take Maryland's program from "good to great."

While there has been progress each year under Edsall and the Terps have a chance to win eight games for just the second time since 2008, 7-5 is not great.

Neither is 8-4. But an 8-4 record combined with a trip to either the TaxSlayer Bowl or the Foster Farms Bowl would have represented another step in the right direction.

Maryland's bowl destination will be announced Dec. 7.

"I don't think you're going to find out anything until next week until they determine who are the four for the playoff and the other access bowls," Edsall said. "I'm sure there's calls being made because I'm sure there's bowls who have an interest in us, and I'm sure there's bowls that don't.

"That's the way it works each and every year. But with the way the system's set up, you're not going to have anything definite, I don't think, until these games play out next Saturday."

End zone

Terps senior outside linebacker Matt Robinson will be able to play in Maryland's bowl game, Edsall said. Robinson, who missed five games earlier this season because of right shoulder issues, was sidelined Saturday against Rutgers because of a foot injury that he suffered against Michigan last week. … Terps wide receiver Stefon Diggs will return to practice Friday, Edsall said. Diggs suffered a lacerated kidney against Penn State on Nov. 1 and missed Maryland's final three regular-season games. Edsall said last week that he expected Diggs to be cleared for contact Dec. 1 and to play in Maryland's bowl game. … Terps junior punter Nate Renfro will not return to the football team next season, Edsall said. Renfro is set to graduate in December and has told Edsall he plans to move on from football.

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