COLLEGE PARK — Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen said Sunday that the Terps deserve a bid to an "upper-echelon" bowl game befitting a team that tied with two other schools for the third-best record in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Maryland's 38-31 victory over North Carolina State on Saturday pushed its record to 8-4 (5-3 ACC) — a mark that Friedgen said entitles the Terps to one of the top bowls affiliated with the ACC.
Bowl games are not required to pick teams based on final record alone, making their selections difficult to forecast. Bowls often consider other factors, such as the way a team performed in its most recent games or how many of the team's fans might attend the bowl.
Virginia Tech (8-0) and Florida State (6-2) have better conference marks than Maryland. The Terps have the same league record as N.C. State and Miami.
Since the Terps lost to Miami and beat N.C. State, Friedgen said Sunday, "We're really the fourth-place team out of 12 teams in the ACC."
Theoretically, Friedgen said, a fourth-place finish means the Terps should be positioned for a bowl game that has the fourth pick — or close to it — of ACC schools. "We'd love to go to either one of those bowls that's in that area. Not that we wouldn't go anywhere else, but I think that's where we're deserving to go," Friedgen said.
The coach didn't mention any bowls by name, but the Sun Bowl, Meineke Car Care Bowl and Music City Bowl are in the selection area that he was referring to.
The Meineke Car Care Bowl -- to be played Dec. 31 in Charlotte, N.C. -- has the fourth pick of ACC teams. Bowl bids will be announced Sunday.
Frank Kay, the Meineke game's director of media relations, said the selection committee is scheduled to meet late Sunday morning. "Maryland is in the running for the Meineke Bowl," Kay said.
Other teams that might be considered include Clemson (4-4), N.C. State -- although the Wolfpack might go higher -- and perhaps Georgia Tech (4-4) and Boston College (4-4), Kay said. North Carolina (4-4) has been in the game two years in a row and may want to participate in another game this season.
Overall, the ACC has nine bowl tie-ins. After the Orange Bowl gets the ACC champion, the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta gets its pick of the rest. Then comes the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando. After that, the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas; the Meineke Car Care Bowl; and the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., make bids for the ACC teams they want.
Then come the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., and the Military Bowl at Washington's RFK Stadium.
Bowl games are not bound to select the team with the best available record when it is their turn to pick. But there are limitations. If a bowl doesn't select the team with the best record, it usually must choose a team only a win apart.
Military Bowl president Steve Beck said in an interview Saturday that it would love Maryland to play in the game. The Dec. 29 contest pits an ACC team against a representative from Conference USA.
Beck said his game had a lot to offer and might make sense as Maryland and many fans wouldn't have to travel far. "Financial times are tough out there," Beck said.
Some Maryland players said they would prefer to play farther from campus, perhaps in a warmer climate.
"Coach Friedgen told us all week if we wanted to go to the Champs Sports Bowl again we had to win [against N.C. State]," senior defensive end Drew Gloster said after Saturday's game. "I would love to get out of the D.C. area for a bowl game. We're minutes from D.C. It's not really a bowl experience."
Maryland played in the Champs Sports Bowl in 2006, beating Purdue.
But senior safety Antwine Perez said any bowl is appealing after last season's 2-10 record. "We just want to play in the best bowl possible," Perez said. "We're not going to complain, especially coming after last season."