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Terps still licking wounds

November 26, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

The University of Maryland football team is dealing with constant pain.

It's a combination of a hangover, indigestion and a collective head slap, all bound together by the strings of heartache. There isn't an over-the-counter remedy for this headache.

For the Terps, it wasn't from partying. It was quite the opposite. It's the queasy feeling that comes from taking a shot and missing the target by two counties. Maryland's main goal for the season -- to win the Atlantic Coast Conference's Atlantic Division title and a berth in the championship game -- became nothing more than wishful thinking after last Saturday's 37-3 drubbing by Florida State.

"I think we are all hurt. There's not a whole lot we can do about it now," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen on Tuesday during his weekly media conference. "It is over with. We missed an opportunity that we had and you work very hard for it all year long. It's disappointing that we don't do a better job when we have the opportunity."

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But the Terps can't take a mental holiday to get past it all. There is still one last regular-season game left to play this weekend at No. 20 Boston College. Instead of tuning out, Maryland has to tune in to get ready to go to Boston College.

Maryland can't change history, but it can change focus.

"We really need to focus on Boston College," Friedgen said. "I told them Saturday night after the game that I am coming to work on Monday and I expect them to be ready to go. And they were. I told them our character is going to be tested again and every time that has happened, we have responded."

This test will be quite different. Instead of playing for the Atlantic title, the Terps will play the part of Atlantic spoiler. They may not be going to Tampa, Fla., on Dec. 6, but they will have a say on which team -- Boston College or Florida State -- will. Plus, Maryland is trying to make sure it has a little bit of a say on which bowl game it will be playing in.

"This weekend wasn't a very happy weekend," said Maryland center Edwin Williams. "It's setting in that we won't be playing in the ACC Championship this year. We have one game left in this season and we want to get into the best bowl game possible. We want to execute this plan and finish out on a good note."

Maryland holds destiny in a different way.

If Maryland beats Boston College, Florida State goes to the ACC Championship Game. If the Terps lose, the Seminoles will be playing either Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech for the right to play in the Orange Bowl.

The more tangible focus for the Terps is trying to figure out where they will be spending the holidays. The outcome of Saturday's game will probably determine if Maryland will be playing in the Gator, Champs Sports, Music City or Meineke Car Care bowls. In essence, Saturday's game could seed Maryland anywhere between third and sixth on the ACC invitation list.

"We do have an opportunity Saturday to play a very good team on the road," Friedgen said. "I told our team if we win the game, essentially we tie for the Atlantic Division. I would hope that would make us attractive to some bowl games and have a better chance of going to a bowl that our kids want to go to. There is a lot to play for."

So, Maryland's focus is no longer destiny. It's now destination.

"We definitely put the last game behind us already," said tight end Dan Gronkowski. "We are looking forward to this weekend. It is a big game for us. If we win we will be going to a better bowl, we just have to go out and get this win.

"We talked about that yesterday in our team meeting so everybody knows about that now. We had a bump in the road but we have to move on from that, and finish this season off well."

If Maryland's past history means anything, Saturday's game is set up for a victory. The Terps are the only team in the country to defeat four nationally ranked teams and they are 7-0 in afternoon games and 6-1 at home.

Maryland has two of the three in its favor since Boston College is No. 20 and the game starts at 3:30 p.m., but the Terps will be facing the Eagles in Chestnut Hill, Mass. Two out of three might not be too bad, even though there are some reservations.

"I don't know ... Thinking about us beating all the ranked teams this year is great, but we wanted to win every game so I try not to think about that," said Maryland linebacker Moise Fokou. "If it continues to happen that is great, but we are a little disappointed after Saturday's loss. I kind of wish Florida State was ranked when we played them."

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