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Maryland still has prizes to fight for

November 27, 2008|By Bob Parasiliti

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland football team spent this entire season trying to keep the treasure in sight.

The Terrapins have played for the sole purpose of reaching the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

They lost that treasure last weekend with a loss to Florida State. Now, Saturday's game at No. 20 Boston College becomes what amounts to a scavenger hunt.

The Terps will be looking for a prize -- be it one of the consolation or parting gift var-iety -- in the form of a victory to end the regular season, an Atlantic Division co-championship and a berth in a premium bowl game.

"You can't do anything about what's happened, but you'd better worry about what's in front of you," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen. "We've got a heck of a challenge in front of us, so I think everybody -- coaches, players, fans -- needs to put their energy into something we can do something about. I wish I could tell you what to expect with this team."

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That's what makes the first part of the hunt so difficult. In order to find the bowl prize, Maryland's defense has to be able to find Boston College's running backs.

The Eagles feature a monstrous offensive line in front of some small, hard-running backs. In theory, you can't hit what you can't find.

"It's hard," said Maryland linebacker Moise Fokou. "Sometimes you go in there and try to fill a gap to make the play. Then you look and no one is there."

In some cases, it's because defenders have to travel the long way around the linemen and lost the map to the runner.

Boston College is on a three-game winning streak to put itself on the cusp of the Atlantic Division championship and the ACC championship game berth. A win over Maryland would seal that, but a loss would give the honor to Florida State.

Part of Boston College's success has come from the play of the offensive line. The starting front averages 6-foot-5 1/2 and 307 1/2 pounds per man.

They man the convoy that leads freshman backs Montel Harris and Josh Haden.

"Their offensive line is extraordinary," Friedgen said. "They are very big and have really been playing well of late. All the guys are back that we played last year and they have a couple new tackles playing very well for them as well. Harris is having an exceptional year. Both (tailbacks) run very, very hard. They hide behind that big offensive line and they get a lot of yards after the first hit."

Harris leads the Eagles with 682 yards and five touchdowns and Haden has 390 yards and one TD. The pair could have extra responsibility this week, since quarterback Chris Crane broke his collarbone during last week's win over Wake Forest, making redshirt freshman Dominique Davis the starter.

"At this point, we have to play the gap," Fokou said. "We just have to make sure none of them are open and make the play."

If the Terps can bury Boston College's running game, they could still strike it rich in the postseason.

"This is a special group of kids to me. I am very disappointed for them," Friedgen said. "I really wanted them to win this thing. But like I said, that is not going to help us against Boston College. We really need to focus on Boston College."

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