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December 29, 2008
When it comes to ticket sales for Tuesday's Humanitarian Bowl, Maryland fans evidently are taking their cue from Maryland players.
Maryland sold less than 1,000 tickets for the game against Nevada in Boise, Idaho, so it's evident Terps fans don't want to be there. Terps players don't, either.
"The bowl shuffle, it wasn't fair," Terps quarterback Chris Turner told reporters earlier this month. "We don't look at ourselves as the eighth-best team. We deserved better than this, and obviously we hurt ourselves."
The "eighth-best team" remark was in reference to the Humanitarian Bowl having the eighth pick from among ACC teams. While Maryland beat four ranked teams this season, the Terps finished 7-5 and head into the bowl having lost three of their past four games, including two in a row to end the regular season.
The Terps will be the last ACC team to be upset about a Humanitarian bid, as the bowl's deal with the league ends with this game. Next season, it's expected that the bowl will match a WAC team against a Mountain West team.
Nevada is the WAC team this season. The Wolf Pack come in having won three of their past four to finish 7-5. They played two "Big Six" conference schools this season, losing to Missouri and Texas Tech by a combined 104-36.
Who has the edge?
Maryland run offense vs. Nevada run defense
Maryland pass offense vs. Nevada pass defense
Nevada run offense vs. Maryland run defense
Nevada pass offense vs. Maryland pass defense
Maryland special teams vs. Nevada special teams
Maryland coaches vs. Nevada coaches
X-factor: Maryland's mind-set is important. A trip to Boise is not a favored destination for an ACC team. And Friedgen admitted to the media in the past week that he's not sure how motivated his team will be.
Maryland will win if: The Terps must hold Nevada to less than 200 rushing yards. If that happens, Maryland can win. Even though the Maryland passing attack is not that good, Turner will have some success because Nevada is so bad against the pass. Heyward-Bey could have a monster outing. It would help his cause is Scott can run effectively as well.
Nevada will win if: The Wolf Pack need to do what they do best ? run the ball with Kaepernick and Taua. Maryland certainly isn't a top 25 team, but the Terps have better athletes than Nevada and are going to have offensive success. And Maryland did beat four ranked teams this season. If Nevada can control the ball on the ground ? the Wolf Pack, on average, have the ball for almost six minutes more per game than their opponents ? it will be in good shape.