The Washington Times - November 30, 2008, 11:08AM

I’ve seen the barbs, the jokes and all sorts of stuff related to Boise, Idaho, the proud home of the Humanitarian Bowl. That happens to be much higher of Maryland’s list of potential bowl destinations now than it was … well, ever.

Except maybe the end of the 2005 season, and the Terps couldn’t beat N.C. State to make that a possibility.

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There are two logical reasons why “going to Boise” are words that will send a shudder through fans of many ACC teams, neither the fault of the city or the bowl. One, it’s freaking far away. Two, it means your team was the No. 8 selection in a 12-team league.

So distance and implied mediocre performance are an obstacle and an aggravation, respectively. But that doesn’t mean Boise should be denigrated.

So here are some things that make Boise a sort of cool, sort of quirky destination for an ACC fan base, even if those supporters are following a 7-5 team nearly all the way across the country:

* The blue field: The world-famous Smurf Turf would be neat to see in person, if only once.

* A possibly decent game: That depends, of course, on whether hometown Boise State is involved. The Broncos are unbeaten and own a victory over Oregon, and it’s safe to say wouldn’t be a good matchup for Maryland. A meeting with Fresno State or Nevada – neither team a guaranteed win nor an especially brutal opponent – wouldn’t be terrible.

* While it might be expensive to get there, it’s cheap to stay in Boise: I just booked a three-night stay at a hotel in a decent chain a mile from downtown Boise as a pre-emptive measure. The cost including tax? A few pennies above $80 a night. The rental car checks in at less than $70 for the entire stay. Now about that flight…

* It’s not as cold as you would guess: Well, for most of the year, anyway. Good friend Wikipedia informs us that Boise’s average high in December 37.2 degrees. It’s only 10 degrees warmer in D.C., so even the Idaho chill isn’t that different from home.

* Maryland fans have some good memories of the town: The 2001 Final Four run began in Boise, where Maryland upended George Mason (barely) and Georgia State to move along to the regional semifinals. That has to count for something, right?

* It’s somewhere you probably wouldn’t otherwise go: This is where Boise rates highly with me. Unless work or family beckons, chances are slim Boise would be a destination for a typical East Coast resident (I would make the same comparison, say, between a San Francisco native and a trip to lovely Charleston, S.C.). The newness might just be the best part about the whole thing.

In the larger scheme, it’s still a 7-5 team that lost three of its last four that could get shipped out to play for all the potatoes. For Maryland fans, that itself should be a far greater disappointment than a destination that could turn out to be enjoyable for the handful of people who could actually make the cross-country trek.

Patrick Stevens