Voted back in top 10, Terps await BCS fate

Bowling over Clemson puts Orange in their sights

College Football

November 12, 2001|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Once again, the Maryland football team moved into the top 10 in the polls yesterday, and should move up in the Bowl Championship Series standings that come out today.

The Terrapins moved up from No. 11 to No. 9 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, and from No. 13 to No. 10 in the Associated Press media poll. The promotions come one day after a 37-20 win over Clemson that clinched a share of the school's first Atlantic Coast Conference title since 1985.

North Carolina State, the team that helped Maryland by beating former co-leader Florida State Saturday, now stands in the way of an undisputed title for Maryland (9-1, 6-1 ACC). The Terps go to Raleigh this Saturday for a 7:45 p.m. game against the Wolfpack.

"Right now, destiny lies in our hands," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said yesterday. "It's a question of us winning this last game and seeing where people put us."

Friedgen admitted that he, his staff and athletic director Debbie Yow have discussed logistics for a bowl game. Even if Maryland loses on Saturday, it will end up in the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., or the Dec. 31 Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

A win would put the Terps in a BCS game, with the Jan. 2 Orange Bowl in Miami being the most likely destination at this point, given the ACC's tie-in with that bowl.

It's unlikely that Maryland will know its fate until the early part of next month, as the Sugar and Fiesta bowls remain possibilities, while the national title game in the Rose Bowl is a long shot.

In any case, Friedgen was relieved not to be in the bowls reserved for the fourth- and fifth-place ACC teams - the Dec. 20 Tangerine (in Orlando) and the Dec. 27 Seattle. Not only do the later bowls bring more prestige to Maryland's program, but also put less of a time crunch on players and coaches.

"We're concerned because [final] exams are from the 14th through the 19th," Friedgen said. "Our coaches have to get out - we have one more evaluation period, so recruiting comes into play.

"What we didn't know until today [Saturday] was if we were going to play in Orlando or Seattle."

After Maryland won its ninth game - providing the opportunity for the school's first 10-win campaign since 1976 - Friedgen joked that this season had ruined the five-year plan that Yow had prescribed when hiring him.

The first-year goal had reportedly been six wins, but Friedgen wouldn't get into specifics about the destination for the fifth year, which would be 2005.

"I don't want to get into that," he said, "but suffice it to say that we were ahead of the first year."

The program's quick ascent culminated in the crowd of 52,462 at Byrd Stadium, some of whom rushed the field and tore down the goal posts, which then got taken to the fraternity row off campus.

Rowdy as it was, the scene came in front of 60 of Maryland's most sought-after potential recruits. Friedgen wouldn't say if the Terps got any more verbal commitments to go with the 11 players who already have tentatively accepted scholarships.

However, with the overall atmosphere, Friedgen said "all the kids enjoyed themselves and they're looking at Maryland a lot differently now."

NOTES: Cornerback Dennard Wilson, who sat out Saturday with a sore hamstring, should return for N.C. State. After starting the two previous games, he will likely compete with Domonique Foxworth, who had a strong performance in his first action as a collegian. ... Tony Okanlawon, the cornerback who preceded Wilson before going down with an unspecified illness, attended the game Saturday and participated in Senior Day activities, though Friedgen did not know when he might return to play. ... According to campus police, authorities were able to retrieve one of the $5,000 goal posts from fraternity row. Parts of the other goal post also turned up there, but the rest had disappeared.

Next for Maryland

Opponent: N.C. State

Site: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, N.C.

When: Saturday, 7:45 p.m.

TV/Radio: ESPN, WBAL (1090 AM), WTEM (980 AM)

Line: Terps by 2 1/2

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