One bowl game emerging for Maryland football following season finale

Postseason projections become more clear after the bulk of the 2023 regular season wrapped up over the weekend with Maryland finishing 7-5 (4-5) overall after controlling Rutgers on the road. Maryland ended its four-game losing streak by clinching bowl eligibility two weeks ago against Nebraska, and the latest win improved their outlook. And now, there’s one bowl game coming into focus in the latest round of bowl projections.

Action Network: Guaranteed Rate Bowl vs. Kansas

Athlon Sports: Las Vegas Bowl vs. Utah

CBS Sports: Las Vegas Bowl vs. USC

ESPN (Kyle Bonagura, Mark Schlabach): Las Vegas Bowl vs. Utah

Saturday Tradition: Las Vegas Bowl vs. Oregon State

For reference, the Big Ten bowl tie-ins are:

-Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 23 at 7:30 (Las Vegas)

-Quick Lane Bowl, Dec. 26 at 2 PM (Detroit)

-Guaranteed Rate Bowl, Dec. 26 at 9 PM (Phoenix)

-Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 28 at 2:15 PM (New York City)

-Gator Bowl, Dec. 29 at 12 PM (Jacksonville)

-Orange Bowl, Dec. 30 at 4 PM (Miami)

-Music City Bowl, Dec. 30 at 2 PM (Nashville)

-ReliaQuest Bowl, Jan. 1 at 12 PM (Tampa)

-Citrus Bowl, Jan. 2 at 1 PM (Orlando)

Las Vegas and Phoneix emerged as the two likely landing spots over the last two weeks with Las Vegas the preference down the stretch. Maryland caught a big break before gameday when Nebraska watched another game slip away in Lincoln, this time against Iowa as the second last-minute interception gave the Hawkeyes the ball right back before a game-winning field goal as time expired.

Brett McMurphy’s projection for the Terps to land in Phoneix is on the table, but remains the outlier in the first edition of bowl projections though the Jayhawks have been a frequently projected opponent for the Terps. Kansas closed the season out with a 49-16 win at Cincinnati, ending 8-4 overall. McMurphy projected Northwestern to face Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl.

With the Vegas destination now coming into focus, Maryland’s chances of facing a marquee opponent look appealing heading into the week.

A potential matchup against the Trojans would not only serve as a preview of next year’s conference game in College Park, but give head coach Mike Locksley and his staff a chance to knock off a recruiting foe with USC making the DMV a focus over the last two recruiting cycle. Of course, quarterback Caleb Williams would have a chance to end his college career against the team that finished runner-up out of high school despite a pursuit that spanned two seasons. The reigning Heisman trophy winner and future top-five pick would be unlikely to suit up for postseason play after USC closed the season out with three consecutive losses to finish 7-5 (5-4). A potential bowl game between Maryland and USC would mark the first-ever matchup.

The same could be said for Utah, who moved to 8-4 (5-4) with a 23-17 win over Colorado on Saturday. Maryland and Oregon State last faced each other when the Beavers pulled out a 21-14 win in the Emerald Bowl back in 2007.

The Vegas Bowl became an increasingly likely destination after Maryland took care of their own business the day after, scoring touchdowns on their first four possessions en route to a 42-24 win at Rutgers. Taulia Tagovailoa became the Big Ten’s all-time passing leader, Jeshaun Jones eclipsed 2,000 career receiving yards and Tai Felton recorded a new career-high with 140 receiving yards while Roman Hemby recorded his second 100-yard rushing game of the season to help Maryland finish with a 3-2 road record and 7-5 (4-5) overall.

“Really, really proud of the way they finished. Really proud of this team. All three phases contributed today in some form or fashion but for our seniors to be able to leave there with the type of resume that they leave here, three straight winning seasons. All these kids that came in, most of these seniors came in and we [were] selling a vision for what we wanted this program to look like and they can leave here knowing that they played a major, major part of it coming to fruition,” head coach Mike Locksley said following the win. “So really proud of the group of leaders we’ve had in our locker room this season. Third straight seven plus-win season. Can’t take winning lightly. Winning is hard, especially in a league like the Big Ten. They’ve earned now some time away, get healthy, find out about a week from now hopefully what type of opportunity we’ve earned. I think, you know, if you look at this team and the firepower we have on the offensive side, we’re pretty attractive for the bowl opportunities that await us and I can tell you our fans will travel well as well.”

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