College Football Bowl Projections: Maryland Likely To Play In Champs Sports Bowl, Sun Bowl Or Meineke Car Care Bowl

With yesterday's win over North Carolina State now in the books, Maryland closed out a regular season that went far better than most expected. Sure, they missed out on a chance to reach the ACC Championship Game, but most Maryland fans would have gladly taken an 8-4 record before the season started. It might be enough to make Ralph Friedgen the ACC Coach of the Year in a lame-duck season.

But is it enough to reach a marquee bowl game? Obviously, your answer depends on the meaning of the word "marquee." We know that Maryland will not play on New Year's Day or later, because only the ACC Champion gets that designation. But there are a number of other solid bowl games that could select Maryland. In a conference call with reporters today, Friedgen ran those games down. Via Patrick Stevens:

Ralph impressively runs down the middle of ACC's bowl picture: Orlando, El Paso, Charlotte and Nashville. Says Terps belong in there.    

Friedgen is referring to the Champs Sports Bowl (12/28), the Sun Bowl (12/31), the Meineke Car Care Bowl (12/31) and the Music City Bowl (12/30), respectively. Indeed, if things hold up as planned, Maryland should get to play in one of those games.

Here are the bowls that ACC teams are eligible for:

 

  • Orange Bowl (ACC Champion)
  • Peach Bowl (ACC No. 2)
  • Champs Sports Bowl (ACC No. 3)
  • Sun Bowl (ACC No. 4)
  • Meineke Car Care Bowl (ACC No. 5)
  • Music City Bowl (ACC No. 6)
  • Independence Bowl (ACC No. 7)
  • Military Bowl (ACC No. 8)
Maryland finished the regular season tied for third in the ACC with N.C. State and Miami. All three teams had 5-3 records in the conference, with N.C. State finishing 8-4 and Miami finishing 7-5. Theoretically, this means Maryland could be as high as third in the conference, in which case they would head to the Champs Sports Bowl on December 28 against the No. 2 team from the Big East (currently, this would be Notre Dame, who can replace the Big East team if they are bowl eligible). If so, it will be the second time in five years that they will play in this game -- they defeated Purdue 24-7 in 2006.

However, it's worth noting that Maryland isn't nearly as much of a draw as Miami, even though Miami is in disarray after firing Randy Shannon. So there's a good chance that Maryland instead slips to the December 31 Sun Bowl against the Pac-10's No. 4 (though this spot would be filled by someone else since the Pac-10 only has three bowl-eligible teams) or even the December 31 Meineke Car Care Bowl against the Big East's No. 3 (currently West Virginia). 

No matter what, though, it looks like Maryland will avoid playing in the Military Bowl in Washington D.C. Currently, the No. 8 team in the ACC is either Clemson, Boston College or North Carolina. 

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