The Washington Times - January 3, 2009, 11:39AM

I willingly admit I lurk on message boards to see what exactly the vocal portion of Maryland’s fan base is thinking at a given point.

The word “portion” is used because there’s no way to tell what everyone (including those who don’t post) really believes.

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But if there’s two things that can be certain, it’s that there’s always a few fans that cannot figure out for the life of them when a season schedule will be released, and then cannot keep track of when it is announced what network will televise each game.

The 2009 football schedule is probably a month away – it came out in early February last year – but the actual teams Maryland will play are pretty well known at this point.

In the nonconference, there is an opening Sept. 5 date at California to complete a home-and-home. The next week, James Madisonwill arrive at Byrd Stadium for a Sept. 12 payday (and could easily put a serious scare or more into the Terps).

Middle Tennessee (which you can find listed on several independent sites as a Sept. 19 game, though there has not been word from either school so far as I can tell pinning it on that date) and Rutgers are the other two nonconference opponents.

As for the league schedule, Boston College, Clemson, Virginia and Virginia Tech will come to Byrd next season. Toss in Rutgers, and that’s obviously an appealing group of opponents that should help Maryland sell some tickets.

Meanwhile, the road games in conference are Duke, Florida State, N.C. State and Wake Forest. Yep, the Blue Devils finally return to the schedule after a four-year absence.

So that’s the schedule as of today. Bet on a finalized version popping sometime in another four-to-five weeks, if the ACC roughly adheres to its timeline from last year.

Patrick Stevens