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Dec. 8, 2006

Maryland finishes season with bowl bid

by Elsi Wu, Online Sports Editor
After hopes of an ACC title were dashed by a final regular season loss to Wake Forest, Maryland advances to the post-season and the Champs Sports Bowl against Purdue in Orlando on Dec. 29.

Finishing 8-4 on the season, Maryland narrowly missed a chance to play for the conference title in a 38-24 loss to Wake Forest. Instead, Maryland will face Purdue (8-5, 5-3 Big Ten) for the first time in school history.

Tied for 5th in overall ACC standings, the Terrapins ended their promising season with two consecutive losses to No. 21 Boston College and No. 20 Wake Forest. Both losses revealed serious holes in the Terrapins scrappy play, earning them an 8-2 record heading into their final two regular season games.

Of those wins, six were decided by one touchdown or less. The Terrapins pattern of grind 'em out wins ran out of steam when faced with two formidable ranked conference opponents. The loss to Boston College on Nov. 18 was a side effect of a serious case of team fumble-itis -- two fumbles and an interception which led to Eagles touchdowns. Maryland's fall to the Demon Deacons a week later was due to a deadly combination of turnovers (three interceptions) and a defense that was simply defenseless against Wake's run, allowing nearly 300 rushing yards.

Looking for a third straight bowl victory and a positive end to the season, the Terrapins will be challenged by Purdue's power offense, which ranks 10th in the nation in net yards and sixth in passing. Purdue's explosiveness on the offensive side of the ball will be a handful for Maryland defenders looking for redemption after their last pathetic showing against Wake Forest, but could be a fairly even match-up unless Purdue reverts to the run. Maryland's offense, led by senior quarterback Sam Hollenbach, will also have to prove themselves after a season of struggling to convert in the red zone.

The Champs Sports Bowl will be Maryland's first bowl appearance in three years, having most recently played in the 2004 Gator Bowl, defeating West Virginia in a 41-7 rout.

The Champs Sports Bowl airs on ESPN on Dec. 29, kickoff at 8 p.m. Tickets for the event are available at the Terrapins Ticket Office at 1-800-IM-A-TERP or by visiting the Champs Sports Bowl page.



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