Maybe the scenario for Maryland was too simple considering its roller-coaster season.
All the Terrapins needed were wins over Florida State and Boston
College to find themselves playing for a chance at the Orange Bowl
and the big payday that accompanies a Bowl Championship Series bid.
Instead, Maryland is here in chilly Idaho about to face Nevada
in the Humanitarian Bowl, trying to find redemption for a
late-season slide that featured the Terps losing three of their
The color of the week for Maryland isn't Orange. Those hopes
went out the window when Florida State routed the Terrapins in
their next-to-last game. This week, it's blue - yep, that famous
blue carpet of Boise State - and the Terps hope a little black and
"We did not end the season the way we wanted it to end, and
this game gives us a chance to do that," Maryland defensive end
Jeremy Navarre said. "An 8-5 year is a good year, so we have to
end this thing right."
Maryland's resume for the season is impressive for the highs and
pretty shocking for the lows. The Terrapins have the third-most
wins in the country this season against teams ranked in the Top 25
- victories over California, Clemson, Wake Forest and North
Carolina when they were in the poll.
But the Terrapins also lost to Middle Tennessee State, barely
squeaked past Delaware of the Football Championship Subdivision,
and were overwhelmed in their biggest game of the season, a 37-3
rout by Florida State that ended their hopes for a place in the ACC
Those dreams of spending time on the sunny beaches of Florida
were gone and replaced by the snowy peaks of Idaho.
The biggest challenge for Maryland may be trying to keep up with
Nevada's high-powered offense. The Terps offense isn't shabby
itself, but will be mostly called upon in this matchup to control
the ball and keep the talented Wolf Pack offense standing on the
Nevada coach Chris Ault believes Maryland is the most balanced
team his squad will have faced all year, which might be welcome
news for the Wolf Pack considering how they were blitzed by
pass-happy Missouri, Texas Tech and Boise State to the tune of 145
points and 1,230 yards passing during the season.
Da'Rel Scott's ability to run might be most crucial in keeping
the Wolf Pack offense off the field. Scott was second in the ACC in
rushing, but topped 100 yards only once in the final four games. He
was held to 11 yards by Virginia Tech and 19 by Boston College.
"When we're clicking, we can be pretty potent," quarterback
Chris Turner said.
If Nevada's offense is clicking Tuesday, the Terrapins might not
be able to match it. The Wolf Pack are led by sophomore quarterback
Colin Kaepernick, the WAC offensive player of the year.
Kaepernick threw for more than 2,000 yards, ran for more than
1,000 and has folks in Reno optimistically looking ahead to what
2009 could bring for the Wolf Pack.
"We definitely have potential to be a great team with all the
young athletes that we have," Kaepernick said. "But at the same
time, we have to fulfill that potential to become a great team."
Fulfilling that promise and potentially rising to the same level
of WAC rival Boise State would be helped by a victory over
Maryland, which would give Nevada (7-5) just its third win over a
BCS conference team since making the move from the Football
Championship Subdivision in 1992.