The Washington Times - June 27, 2009, 08:21PM

Part of my day was spent culling preseason football rankings from an assortment of sites.

After all, the College Football Countdown is coming to the blog within the next week or so, five teams at a time until all 120 major-college schools are accounted for.


So imagine my luck when the New York Times’ Quad Countdown (compiled admirably and no doubt arduously by Paul Myerberg) checked in with Maryland just a few hours ago.

The Terrapins happened to land outside the top half, notching a No. 66 ranking entering the fall.

While I won’t entirely tip where I have the Terpies (other than to say it is better than No. 66),  the rationale for plugging them in so low has merits.

The schedule isn’t easy, the lines need to be reconstructed and Maryland lost a lot of seniors (plus Darrius Heyward-Bey) off last year’s team. And while everyone loves to salivate over experience or project doom over the lack of it, the theme of sturdy line play will be returned to time and again in the next few months.

For good reason, because if the offensive line doesn’t coalesce, the Terps are going to run about as well as my old college car, a Ford Escort affectionately dubbed the Patty Wagon (which is to say, Maryland won’t run at all). If things come together, then surpassing last year’s 8-5 is possible.

Myerberg pegs the Terps for a 6-6 season, 4-4 in the ACC, and on the surface that looks about right. No one should get criticized too much for placing Maryland in that 7-5/6-6 range, with three or four league wins tossed in. Until September comes and the ability of those untested offensive linemen is determined, everyone is simply guessing about this team anyway.

—- Patrick Stevens