Thanks to the ACC’s tie-in with the Orange Bowl, conference teams usually have one color in mind for their postseason destination.
This season, Maryland will have to settle for blue, the hue of the famous turf in Boise, Idaho. The Terrapins (7-5) accepted an invitation Sunday to the Dec. 30 Humanitarian Bowl, where they will meet Nevada (7-5).
It is Maryland’s third consecutive bowl berth and its sixth in eight seasons under coach Ralph Friedgen. It was believed Boise was the Terps’ most likely destination for more than a week, though their spot in the game was not finalized until Sunday.
“Right now, after losing our last two games, we’re lucky we’re going to a bowl,” Friedgen said. “I asked our team who wants to go to a bowl and who doesn’t, and everyone raised their hands.”
While the Terps soon will become acquainted with blue turf, Virginia Tech will maintain orange visions for the next month. The Hokies (9-4) learned they will play Big East winner Cincinnati (11-2) in the Jan. 1 Orange Bowl.
It was Virginia Tech’s third conference title in five years since joining the ACC, and the Hokies will attempt to snap the league’s eight-game losing streak in BCS games against a Bearcats team that will play on New Year’s Day for the first time since the 1951 Sun Bowl.
Maryland will play two days earlier and in a place with an average temperature about 40 degrees cooler than Miami in December and January.
The Terps will do so without defensive coordinator Chris Cosh, who departed Friday to become the assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator at Kansas State. Neither Cosh nor Danny Pearman, the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach, will be with the Terps for the Humanitarian Bowl.
Friedgen said he was unsure how he will shuffle his staff before the bowl or how quickly he will hire a new defensive coordinator. If he cannot find one before the bowl, it is likely outside linebackers Al Seamonson would serve as defensive coordinator in Boise.
“I don’t want to rush into anything,” Friedgen said. “If I can [hire the right person quickly], I will. If I don’t think I can, I won’t. It’s more important to select the right person.
The Terps and Wolf Pack have never met, and Maryland’s only game against a current member of the Western Athletic Conference was a 34-34 tie with Louisiana Tech in the 1990 Independence Bowl.
To fare better, the Terps will need to contain sophomore quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the WAC’s offensive player of the year. Kaepernick threw for 2,479 yards, ran for another 1,115 and accounted for 35 touchdowns (19 passing) against five interceptions as Nevada earned its fourth straight bowl invitation.
Athletic director Debbie Yow acknowledged geography played a larger role in some of the selections before the Humanitarian Bowl as games attempt to offset a shaky economy by inviting schools within driving distance. That was no doubt part of the reason the Terps couldn’t wheedle their way into the Meineke Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., over North Carolina.
However, Friedgen said he heard positive things about the Humanitarian Bowl from coaches who previously played in the game.
“Every year they said how warm the hospitality is in Boise and how the kids really enjoy it,” Friedgen said. “They just said it was a good experience. I’m basing my faith on that, and I told our players that. We’re excited about going, and we’re going to do our best to get our eighth win.”
Patrick Stevens has covered Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic college sports for more than a decade. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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