COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- No longer eligible to play in a BCS bowl and spurned Tuesday by the Gator Bowl committee, Maryland has turned its sights on garnering a Peach Bowl bid.
The Terrapins blew their chance to earn a share of the ACC title and a possible BCS appearance by losing to Virginia 48-13 last Saturday.
They have no one to blame but themselves for that missed opportunity, but the Terrapins (9-3, 5-2) feel they were slighted when the Gator Bowl overlooked them in favor of North Carolina State (10-3, 5-3) as the ACC representative in the New Year's Day game.
"I realize it's the bowl's privilege, but I don't necessarily agree," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "I don't know why they talk about where you finish, because it doesn't work that way."
The Gator Bowl usually takes the league's second-place team. If Maryland beats visiting Wake Forest this Saturday, the Terrapins will finish tied for second with Virginia - behind Florida State and ahead of N.C. State.
The Peach Bowl, held on Dec. 31, would serve as a welcome consolation prize.
"It would be very exciting for me to go back to Atlanta," said Friedgen, who took over at Maryland after a stint as Georgia Tech's offensive coordinator. "We don't have anything against the other bowls, but that's the bowl game we'd like to go to right now."
Mainly because it's the best remaining option. The Terrapins are competing for the spot against Virginia, with the loser getting a trip to the Tangerine Bowl (Dec. 23).
Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow was displeased with the Gator Bowl's haste in picking the Wolfpack - a team the Terrapins defeated - but insisted that Maryland is a better choice for the Peach Bowl than Virginia.
"If we beat Wake Forest, we will have 10 wins in the regular season, be tied with UVA for second in the conference and will have won nine of our last 10 games," she said.
"Our fans can easily drive to Atlanta by the thousands, and it works very well for us academically, given our exam schedule. And, all things being equal, if we win on Saturday and Virginia wins (against Virginia Tech), we will likely be ranked higher nationally."
None of this would have mattered if Maryland beat Virginia last week after the Wolfpack upset Florida State.
"Obviously we're disappointed," Friedgen said. "We had the opportunity to be co-conference champions, maybe the BCS representative in the Sugar Bowl. But there's not much we can do about it now; we had our opportunity and we couldn't get it done."
That left Maryland's fate in the hands of the various bowl committees. The Gator Bowl evidently liked the idea that NC State already has 10 wins and was coming off an impressive 17-7 upset of FSU.
"You just never know how the bowl situation is going to work out," Maryland receiver Steve Suter said. "It's a shame they don't always take the better team. I'm just hopeful the Peach Bowl comes our way, and they won't overlook us for that one, either."