Monday, October 30, 2006

Terps Bowl Eligible, United Moves On, Ravens Win, Caps Miss Goal

With a post title like that you hardly need to read on, right?

Let's get right to business:

The Maryland Terrapins blocked a last-minute field goal to hold a 27-24 lead over the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday night at Byrd Stadium.

The win is the Terps' sixth, making them bowl eligible for the first time since 2003.

I know some people disagree with me on this, but I really think the Terps will need one more win to make it to a bowl game. Sure, if the bowl invites were being handed out today the Terps would get an invite riding high off a win over FSU on national television, but if they tank it down the stretch and finish 6-6, bowl committees aren't going to be jumping at the chance to showcase a team that has lost its last four games.

The Terps remaining schedule is brutal (and I know I said that two weeks ago and all the Terps did was win the next two games). This weekend it's a road trip to Death Valley to face No. 19 Clemson, who's coming off a tough loss to Virginia Tech. Then it's back home to face a struggling Miami team, back on the road to No. 16 Boston College, then finishing the season at Byrd Stadium against No. 22 Wake Forest.

The Miami game on Nov. 11 is still the Terps' best shot to secure a bowl bid.

D.C. United played to a 1-1 tie in the second leg of its two-game, first-round playoff series against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, earning United a spot in the Eastern Conference Final.

The Red Bulls controlled the play for much of the game and 16-year-old Jozy Altidore put them ahead 1-0 in the 70th minute, which would have been enough to send the game to overtime if not for an amazing goal for D.C. United in the 86th minute.

Josh Gros booted a cross from the right side seemingly into the pack in the middle, but at the last second United's Bobby Boswell flopped out of the way and the ball made it through to Christian Gomez, who buried it and evened up the score.

Despite the win, ESPN 2 commentators stated early and often that a similar effort from United would not be enough to beat the New England Revolution in the Conference Final.

United won the first leg at New York, 1-0, and in Major League Soccer's crazy "aggregate goal" playoff system, that means a tie was good enough to advance and face the Revolution, who beat the Chicago Fire on penalty kicks.

The Eastern Conference Final is only one game, which will be at RFK Stadium this Sunday at 4 p.m. It will also be shown live on ESPN 2.

My concerns about the Ravens falling to 4-4 after starting 4-0 have been alleviated, as the Ravens beat the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday, 35-22.

In the first game since Head Coach Brian Billick fired Offensive Coordinator Jim Fassel and took over the playcalling himself, Baltimore's offense scored three touchdowns and Jamal Lewis had his first 100-yard rushing game of the season.

But the offense wasn't the only side putting points on the board for the Ravens.

When asked about his playcalling after the game, Brian Billick quipped, "I particularly like the play calls of the two interceptions for touchdowns."

The win kept Baltimore a game ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals for first place in the AFC North.

The Ravens and Bengals face off on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Baltimore to get to the halfway point of the season.

The Capitals started their first and only west coast swing of the season promisingly, beating the Avalanche and getting a point in an overtime loss to the Canucks, but on Sunday they were trounced by the defending Western Conference champions, 4-0.

The loss meant that the Caps only managed to get four standing points in the second "five game mini season" of the year and gives them 10 points after 10 games, a pace that would probably not be good enough to make the playoffs.

The Caps wrap up the road trip tonight at 9 p.m. against the Calgary Flames.

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