- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 22, 2008

The out-of-town scores flicker across the bottom of Byrd Stadium’s two video scoreboards often enough to draw attention.

On Saturday night, before No. 22 Maryland faces Florida State, a final score of some significance could arrive from Boston College’s game at Wake Forest.

“I’ll be looking for it,” defensive tackle Jeremy Navarre conceded.

That’s about it, though. A Wake Forest victory aids the Terrapins, but the day’s most significant development will come from how they fare against the Seminoles in a tussle that will help determine who wins the ACC’s Atlantic Division.

Should Wake Forest prevail Saturday, Boston College would be eliminated and Maryland would need one win in its last two games to collect a trip to the Dec. 6 conference title game. The Terps visit Boston College next week to finish the regular season. Should the Eagles win, the Terps (7-3, 4-2 ACC) would need to defeat the Seminoles (7-3, 4-3) to maintain a chance of reaching Tampa, Fla.

Coach Ralph Friedgen spelled out the scenarios to his players this week but buttressed his comments with an overriding emphasis.

“We’ve got to win this game,” he said. “Then we’ll see what happens next week, and then we’ll see if we have to win another game. If we don’t win the game, it doesn’t really matter, so we don’t need to worry about it.”

A wandering mind is a perennial pet peeve of coaches. Friedgen, however, has to think back only two years to a situation he still bemoans. In 2006, Maryland was in nearly an identical situation, needing only a pair of victories to lock up its first division title. However, Boston College drilled the Terps in the season’s penultimate week to assume control of the race.

Five days later, the Eagles lost at Miami on Thanksgiving night to cede the battle. Friedgen soon found himself fielding calls from players who just then realized the Terps could still win the division, rendering Friedgen flustered. Maryland went on to lose to Wake Forest in a de facto division title game.

Then - as now - the Terps entertained thoughts of an Orange Bowl trip, which Maryland’s many holdovers remember all too well.

“Those two losses at the end of that year really put a damper on the season, but it also showed how great we could have been at that time and how we could be great again this time,” tackle Dane Randolph said. “As seniors, we’ve learned from it.”

That’s why the Boston College-Wake Forest game will remain mostly out of mind and completely out of sight. The Terps will leave their hotel at about the time the Eagles and Demon Deacons kick off, so there will not be an opportunity to catch glimpses during the afternoon. Once Maryland arrives in the locker room, the televisions will remain off (as usual). By game time, Friedgen hopes only one scenario will permeate his players’ minds.

“I understand our situation, so I just have to take care of what we’re doing,” receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said. “I’ll worry about my scoreboard at 7:45 and let everything else fall into place. We understand if we win, we’re good.”

Not that the Terps couldn’t use a little help. A Boston College loss would ensure Maryland avoids a winner-take-all game on the road, where the Terps have fared poorly most of the season. It also would set up the possibility of a raucous celebration at Byrd if Maryland can upend Florida State for the third time in as many meetings in College Park.

The elimination of Boston College would provide Maryland with wiggle room heading into the final week, but the chance to finish off the Seminoles remains a much more appealing option.

“You hope for a lot of things to happen,” Heyward-Bey said, “but I understand if we take care of our business this weekend and next weekend, there will be no doubt that we’ll be in Tampa.”

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