- The Washington Times - Monday, November 25, 2002

Ralph Friedgen sat in a cramped room at Scott Stadium late Saturday night and tried to comprehend what had just happened to his team a 48-13 rout at the hands of Virginia that cost the Terrapins a shot at the ACC title and a BCS bowl.
"It was like we couldn't do anything right," a pale and exasperated Friedgen said. "I wish you all could experience what it feels like when there is not much you can do. You just sit there and know it's not a lack of effort it's just that we had a bad day. And Virginia had a very, very good day."
The afternoon started well for the Terps, who took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards for a touchdown. They were down 20-7 at the half when they learned N.C. State beat Florida State and that a share of the conference title, and a BCS bowl bid, was a possibility.
But now the Terps' postseason destination is unclear. Maryland dropped from 18th to 25th and will be jockeying with No.21 N.C. State and Virginia for bowl position.
The Terps (9-3, 5-2 ACC) can catch the second-place Cavaliers (8-4, 6-2) with a win Saturday against Wake Forest. If that happens, Maryland would seem to have the edge for the Jan.1 Gator Bowl, which has the ACC first choice after the BCS. However, Virginia can strengthen its Gator Bowl hopes with a win at No.22 Virginia Tech. The Peach Bowl (Dec.31) selects after the Gator and could consider N.C. State. A worst-case scenario for the Terps is a slip into the ACC's fourth bowl tie-in, the Tangerine Bowl on Dec.23 in Orlando, Fla.
The Terps will try to regroup after a dismal showing at Virginia. Nick Novak had a 28-yard field-goal attempt blocked in the first quarter. It would have given Maryland a 10-0 lead, but instead the Cavaliers ran off 34 unanswered points.
Scooter Monroe dropped an apparent touchdown pass that would have given the Terps a 14-3 lead in the second quarter. In Maryland's' first two drives, quarterback Scott McBrien completed five of six passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. After that, he hit eight of 19 for 86 yards and one interception.
Maryland converted one of 11 third downs. Virginia made 10 of 15 thanks to a crisp short passing attack, enhanced by poor coverage, shoddy tackling and defensive penalties.
"I saw this coming, but maybe I could have done some things better," Friedgen said. "We normally practice pretty intense and we didn't do that this week."
The grind of the longest season 13 games in history is taking a toll. "It's been a long season, and this week it just caught up with us. We didn't have it," Monroe said.
Friedgen plans to shorten practices this Thanksgiving week. The coach is cautiously optimistic his team will rebound and improve its bowl outlook. "I would like to think they are going to come back, but I don't know that," Friedgen said. "They might say the season's over. Who knows? Tune in next week."


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