- The Washington Times - Friday, November 25, 2005

Contrary to popular belief — not to mention Rand McNally and Mapquest — the road to Boise could go through Raleigh for Maryland’s football team.

Then again, the Terrapins’ path to Nashville or San Francisco might go through the North Carolina capital, where the Terrapins (5-5, 3-4 ACC) will meet N.C. State (5-5, 2-5) in their regular-season finale tomorrow. A victory would make Maryland bowl-eligible for the fourth time in five seasons, though a postseason destination remains unclear.

It appears Maryland will be assured a bowl bid if it can upend the Wolfpack, since the ACC announced one additional postseason agreement this week and has all but assured itself of a second extra tie-in.

The Music City Bowl agreed to take an ACC team after the SEC failed to reach its quota of postseason eligible teams and could not provide a team for the Nashville, Tenn., game.

Emerald Bowl executive director Gary Cavalli said his game also has agreed to take an ACC team if the Pac-10 cannot provide a team. If Arizona State (5-5) defeats Arizona (3-7) today and Stanford (5-5) stuns Notre Dame (8-2) tomorrow, the Pac-10 would have a No. 6 choice eligible for the San Francisco-based game.

Yet even if that scenario unfolds, Oregon (10-1) would be in position to possibly take Notre Dame’s at-large spot in a BCS game. That would bump the rest of the Pac-10 teams up a spot and leave the Emerald Bowl with an open slot.

The ACC already had bowl slots assured with the BCS, as well as the Gator (second choice), Peach (third), Champs Sports (fourth), Meineke Car Care (fifth) and MPC Computers (sixth) bowls. Virginia Tech, Miami, Florida State, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Virginia already are bowl eligible.

“I called the ACC office the other day and just asked them and they said they had eight slots,” Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. “If North Carolina would beat [Virginia] Tech, they would be the ninth team eligible, but they felt we would get a slot.”

Even Friedgen is unsure where the Terps would go since tomorrow’s Georgia-Georgia Tech game and next week’s ACC title game are linchpins in the conference’s bowl picture. With a loss, the Yellow Jackets (7-3) could fall all the way to the Boise-based MPC Computers Bowl, where they played two seasons ago and might not want to return so quickly. That could open up a spot for the Maryland-N.C. State winner, especially since Virginia (6-4) played in Boise last season.

A Georgia Tech win, though, could create a different scenario. Boston College (8-3) could land in Boise to probably face Boise State, a dream scenario for a bowl eager for a competitive game.

“I’m thinking if Georgia Tech were to win Saturday, I think they’d be a candidate for the Peach, which would probably send Florida State to the Champs Sports and Clemson to Meineke,” MPC Computers Bowl executive director Gary Beck said. “[That] would then leave us the choice of the N.C. State-Maryland winner and also Boston College. They’ve never been to our bowl, and if they were available we would entertain inviting them.”

The Music City and Emerald bowls, which both begin four-year contracts with the ACC next season, have examined ACC teams this week but neither will scout the Maryland-N.C. State game.

“In just talking with conference office and just looking at it, you feel some combination of the Maryland-N.C. State winner, Virginia possibly, possibly Georgia Tech if they don’t win against Georgia,” Music City Bowl executive director Scott Ramsey said. “I don’t know who else could slip through. That’s about as far as we’ve gotten.”

Cavalli said the Music City and Emerald bowls would be part of a pool for the remaining eligible teams, much as the two games and the Meineke Car Care Bowl will be grouped together to select the ACC’s fifth, sixth and seventh picks next season. Decisions could be made as early as Sunday, though it is also possible no destinations will be known until after the Dec. 3 title game.

“It’s wait and see, just like it always is at this time of year,” Beck said.

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