Although the Humanitarian Bowl doesn't approach the prestige of the January bowl games, it will suit Maryland just fine.
The Terrapins closed the regular season on a 1-3 slide, but they don't have time to contemplate what could have been with one of the nation's most explosive offensive teams, Nevada, waiting at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho on Dec. 30.
"I'm just happy I'm not going to be sitting at home during Christmas break watching other guys play," said Maryland senior defensive lineman Jeremy Navarre. "You've got to take what you get. I'm happy we're still practicing, to be honest with you."
Maryland (7-5) isn't happy about playing its way out of an Orange Bowl berth, but the Terps are definitely motivated to post their second eight-win season since 2003.
"Winning this game is very important, not only to our seniors but to our football program," said Terps coach Ralph Friedgen, who had won three straight bowl games with Maryland prior to last season's 21-14 loss to Oregon State in the Emerald Bowl. "Eight-and-five is a very commendable season, and winning a bowl game is a springboard to next year."
Maryland, however, was looking for far more than an 8-5 mark and a December visit to Idaho following a 17-15 victory over then-No. 17 North Carolina on Nov. 15. The Terps finished with back-to-back losses -- 37-3 to Florida State on Nov. 22 and 28-21 to then-No. 20 Boston College -- before accepting the Humanitarian Bowl berth.
"It's not one of those places when you're a kid you go, 'I want to go to Boise, Idaho!' But, at the same time, it's going to fun," center Edwin Williams said.
Junior quarterback Chris Turner looks to build off his career game versus Boston College, as he posted career highs in completions (33), attempts (57) and yards passing (360).
Turner, who threw for 2,318 yards and 11 touchdowns with 10 interceptions this season, faces a Nevada team that's ranked last in the Football Bowl Subdivision in pass defense at 321.1 yards per game. The Wolf Pack, though, had the eighth-most sacks with 35, with Kevin Basped (10) and Dontay Moch (9.5) finishing 15th and 17th in the nation, respectively.
Turner has been sacked 11 times in the past two games.
Nevada's defense is much more formidable against the run, allowing 74.5 yards per game -- third in the nation. The Wolf Pack surrendered 71 yards rushing or less seven times this season.
That's bad news for a Maryland team ranked 72nd in the nation in rushing at 134.5 yards a contest. Sophomore Da'Rel Scott led the Terps with 959 yards on the ground, but had just 19 on 13 carries in the loss to Boston College.
Maryland rushed for 19 yards versus Oregon State in last season's Emerald Bowl.
While the Terps look for a way to run the ball against a Nevada team ranked sixth in tackles for loss (8.0 per game), the task of slowing down the Wolf Pack's high-powered offense will fall to Al Seamonson. Maryland's linebackers coach is serving as interim defensive coordinator after Chris Cosh left to become Kansas State's assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.
Nevada averaged 510.6 yards on the season -- fifth in the nation -- and has scored 41.0 points per game since a 69-17 loss to then-No. 6 Missouri on Sept. 13.
Vai Taua leads the Wolf Pack with 1,420 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns, while sophomore quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the WAC offensive player of the year, passed for 2,479 yards and 19 TDs while rushing for 1,115 yards and 16 scores. Nevada (7-5) ran for 291.4 yards per game.
"I see that they're second in the country in rushing, and they have two 1,000-yard rushers," said Friedgen, whose team has allowed an average of 173.8 yards rushing in its last four games. "They've played some really good football teams, so I think they're a very, very good football team."
Nevada was within nine points of then-No. 12 Texas Tech in the final seven minutes before falling 35-19 on Sept. 6. Its only loss in its last four games came by a 41-34 score to Poinsettia Bowl-bound Boise State on Nov. 22.
The Wolf Pack are making their school-record fourth consecutive bowl appearance, although they've dropped their last two postseason games, the most recent a 23-0 loss to New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl. Nevada totaled 210 yards in the game.
"As we've told our players, it is a one-game season now. And it is going to be a terrific challenge for us," Nevada coach Chris Ault told the school's official Web site.
Maryland and Nevada have never met. The Terps' last bowl victory was 24-7 over Purdue in the 2006 Champs Sports Bowl, while Nevada's last bowl win was 49-48 in overtime over Central Florida in the 2005 Hawaii Bowl.
AccuScore has powered more than 10,000 simulations for every College Football game on ESPN.com, calculating how each team's performance changes in response to game conditions and opponent's abilities. Each game is simulated and the game is replayed a minimum of 10,000 times to generate forecasted winning percentages.
For those who haven't seen Colin Kaepernick play, the Humanitarian Bowl will be a treat. Kaepernick, the WAC player of the year, is a dual threat and half of the nation's second-best rushing attack (with running back Vai Taua), which is averaging 291.4 yards per game. Maryland has been the most schizophrenic team this season, so there's no telling which Terrapins might show up. -- Graham Watson