- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Less than an hour after Maryland had lost on Saturday, tailback Lance Ball already was looking forward to the Terrapins’ regular-season finale at N.C. State.

And why not? The Terps (5-5, 3-4 ACC) still entertain bowl hopes despite the 31-16 loss to Boston College, and a win probably would send Maryland to the postseason. The Wolfpack (5-5, 2-5) are in an identical spot, creating plenty of excitement for the only major-conference matchup between 5-5 teams this season.

“It lights the fire,” Ball said. “It’s going to play like the Super Bowl next week. We’re going to be ready.”

Maryland will have to be, especially after dropping three of four to put itself at risk of a second consecutive losing season. To avoid that fate, the Terps spent much of yesterday talking about how to move past an ugly loss to Boston College that probably could have been far worse and left the team in a gloomy mood on Saturday.

That frustration stemmed partially from managing to score just 16 points in six red zone trips, a trend quarterback Sam Hollenbach described as “kind of the story of the season.” Hollenbach’s miscues — he had both a fumble and interception returned for touchdowns and committed two turnovers inside the red zone — also helped doom the Terps.

“It was the toughest weekend I’ve had at college probably, mentally and physically,” Hollenbach said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve replayed those plays in my head, the mistakes that I made. It just really comes down to [the fact] I’m not going to get any better focusing on that.”

Maryland will have a chance to make an impression on bowl scouts, though not many plan to be at Saturday’s game. Both the Charlotte, N.C.-based Meineke Car Care Bowl (fifth choice among ACC teams) and the MPC Computers Bowl (sixth choice) in Boise, Idaho, will have representatives in Raleigh.

Meanwhile, the Nashville, Tenn.-based Music City Bowl agreed yesterday to accept an ACC team for an open spot vacated when the SEC produced only six bowl eligible teams.

Friedgen, who has touted Maryland’s recent record of traveling to the Orange, Peach and Gator bowls as a positive for the Terps’ bowl prospects, met with representatives from the Peach and Champs Sports bowls after Saturday’s game.

“They seemed to indicate if we won this week that we’d have a good opportunity to go to a bowl,” Friedgen said. “But what are they going to tell me, no?”

That will be the answer Friedgen will hear if the Terps lose on Saturday. A defeat would end the college career of linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and more than a dozen other seniors and would leave Maryland as one of only three ACC teams — along with Duke and Wake Forest — to post consecutive losing seasons.

It’s a distinction Friedgen would prefer to avoid, if only to provide a reward for his team’s effort this year.

“I’d like for it to happen for our players because they’ve put so much into this season, and this was one of the major goals they had …,” Friedgen said. “The program is not going to stop because of [a loss]. We’re going to have a good football team here. It definitely wouldn’t hurt and would probably help, but if it doesn’t happen it’s one step we have to overcome.”

Note — Friedgen declined to say if there were any changes to the Terps’ starting lineup. “If there are, I’m not going to say,” Friedgen said. “I’m not going to confirm or deny.” It is believed Maryland will be without some players because of suspensions stemming from a Nov. 1 brawl at a College Park bar. Friedgen previously said three players would be suspended a game for their roles in the fight and another would be suspended for an unrelated underage drinking offense, but none of the players have been identified.

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