Bowl bid secure, Terps now aim for best one
Now that Maryland has finally gotten its coveted sixth win, the Terrapins intend to use the final two weeks of the regular season to make a positive impression on bowl committees around the country.
Maryland (6-4, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) snapped a three-game losing streak and became bowl eligible by defeating Virginia Tech on the road 27-24 in overtime last Saturday.
It was an uplifting victory, but it did not necessarily assure the Terrapins their first postseason appearance since 2010.
“Six wins just makes you eligible,” coach Randy Edsall stressed Tuesday. “It doesn’t guarantee you that you’re going anywhere, and I’ve told that to our team.”
Maryland hosts Boston College (6-4, 3-3) on Saturday before closing the regular season with its final ACC football game, at North Carolina State on Nov. 30.
Even if the Terrapins lose twice to finish 6-6, they still have a decent shot of going to the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in nearby Annapolis. With two more wins, however, Maryland could possibly earn a bowl bid that would require transportation by airplane rather than a bus.
“Eight (wins) is ideal, and we’re going to try to get seven this week,” quarterback C.J. Brown said.
After starting the season with four straight wins, the Terrapins lost four of five before breaking through at Virginia Tech. Brown carried the offense, rushing for 122 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns, including the gamewinner, a 3-yard sprint to the left pylon in overtime.
The quarterback’s standout performance came after he admittedly played tentatively after receiving a concussion on Oct. 5 at Florida State and an upperbody injury two weeks later at Wake Forest.
“I definitely felt a lot healthier than how I felt in the past, and I think it showed on the field,” Brown said.
Brown also threw for 135 yards and a score.
“That was the healthiest he’s been since the Florida State game,” Edsall said. “He had more confidence in his own ability, to be able to run and do the things he’s capable of doing. During that (previous) stretch of games, he felt like he couldn’t have that burst and couldn’t have the explosion that he normally has. He had that feeling back in his body and his legs.”
Brown was backed by a defense that had seven sacks and limited the Virginia Tech running game to 54 yards.
The result was a victory that restored a sense of confidence to a team that had lost its prior three games by a combined 54 points.
“A lot of people counted us out, didn’t think we could get another win the rest of the year,” Edsall said. “But if you believe in yourself and you believe in the people around you regardless of what’s thrown in front of you, you can go win.”
Edsall celebrated the win by running around the field, looking like a “goofball” according to Brown, who loved the show of emotion by the usually stoic coach.
“It’s always funny to see a coach running around,” Brown said.
The improbable victory — Virginia Tech was favored by more than two touchdowns — turned around a season that was headed in the wrong direction after a fast start.
“Just getting that sixth win helps us,” Brown said. “I think it kind of swung the momentum. Going into that game, it was tipping point. The season could have gone either way.”
Maryland coach Randy Edsall reacts to a confirmation replay of his teamís final score in Saturday’s win against Virginia Tech. The victory made the Terps bowl eligible.