- The Washington Times - Friday, December 6, 2002

Ralph Friedgen was a bit ticked off at halftime of the 1984 Sun Bowl.

The Maryland Terrapins trailed their opponent by three touchdowns after a terrible opening half, and Friedgen didn't like it. He stormed into the locker room and despite advice to the contrary from coach Bobby Ross put his fist through a chalkboard in frustration.

Maybe it shook up the team, or maybe Friedgen just hurt his hand. Either way, the Terps rallied in the second half behind Mr. Comeback, quarterback Frank Reich, to score four touchdowns and pull out a dramatic one-point victory.

"It was probably the most memorable bowl I've been to," Friedgen said yesterday.

That's what happened the last time the Terps faced Tennessee, which yesterday officially accepted a bid to the Peach Bowl to face Maryland. Current coach Friedgen was offensive coordinator under Ross when Maryland beat the Volunteers 28-27 in the Sun Bowl. This New Year's Eve, Tennessee and Maryland will meet for the fifth time in the Peach, the most meetings against the same bowl opponent for both schools.

Friedgen is hoping to make the 35th Peach Bowl more memorable for him and the Terps. Should the No.21 Terps win, they would become just the second Maryland team to win 11 games and would get the school's first bowl victory since 1985. The Terps lost to Florida 56-23 in the Orange Bowl last season.

In Tennessee, the Terps face a Southeastern Conference program that has won a national championship in the past seven seasons. The contest will provide another opportunity for the Terps to be in a nationally televised game against one of the nation's premier programs.

Friedgen has led Maryland to consecutive 10-win seasons, unprecedented in school history, but he and the Terps want to put a stamp on this season by beating Tennessee.

"It's an opportunity for us," Friedgen said. "Hopefully, we can fulfill that opportunity. We missed it against Florida and Notre Dame [both games were on national television]. Hopefully, we can keep knocking on the door and it will open up."

The Terps will have a chance against a Tennessee team hit by injuries. Quarterback Casey Clausen began the season as a Heisman Trophy front-runner but was injured when Tennessee beat Arkansas on Oct.12 and missed the Vols' loss to Georgia the next week. Kelley Washington, their leading wideout, suffered a concussion in the Arkansas game.

Clausen returned after the Georgia loss, but Washington hasn't played since. Tennessee's offense has not really gotten going this season and averages 24.4 points.

The injuries took their toll. Often one of the top teams in the SEC, the Vols slipped, finishing 8-4 and 5-3 in the conference. They lost three games at home for the first time in 14 years and beat only two teams with winning records, Arkansas and Kentucky.

Still, the Vols have shut out their last two opponents and rank eighth in Division I-A in total defense, yielding 286 yards a game.

"There are a lot of reasons for us to go and play well," said Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer. "One, to top off a real good effort by the team this season. Four weeks ago, we talked about the chance to win nine games, and through the adversity and all the disappointments we've had, it would be a great accomplishment."

The Terps are the first 10-victory team to play in the Peach Bowl, which also considered selecting Auburn as the Terps' opponent. Maryland will start preparing for the Vols on Sunday and resume full practices Monday.

"They're a nationally known program, a perennial top 10 team," Friedgen said. "It's a tremendous challenge for our school to play a high-caliber team like Tennessee."

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