Ignore for a moment the very real possibility Maryland will play in the Military Bowl at RFK Stadium regardless of its outcome Saturday against N.C. State.
Fans don't want to hear that, since East Capitol Street isn't exactly the most exotic holiday destination. And players definitely don't want to hear that, since they'd like to think an 8-4 record and a turnaround season would make them a more appealing option to bowls further up the ACC's pecking order.
Getting to 8-4 is the tricky part. But there's no question where the inimitable A.J. Francis would like to spend his holiday season.
"I love D.C. I was born in D.C. and grew up in Maryland, but I want to go to Florida for a bowl game," the sophomore nose tackle said. "That's nothing against the Military Bowl at all. It's a great bowl. It has a great purpose, but I want to go to Florida for a bowl game, and the best way to go to Florida for a bowl game is to win this week. If we win, we'll be 8-4 and hopefully we can go to a warm-weather bowl. There's nothing against the Military Bowl at all. It's just that I don't want to play in the snow."
Francis hasn't played in the snow, but he knows all about chilly holiday destinations. Remember, Maryland was shipped two years ago to Boise, Idaho, where it defeated Nevada 42-35 to cap an 8-5 season.
The win was nice. The scenery was solid. The weather was ... well, it was cold. Memorably cold.
"I was at the Humanitarian Bowl, so I understand how big a deal it is to go to a warm-weather bowl," Francis said. 'I don't think [redshirt freshman quarterback] Danny [O'Brien] understands how huge a deal it is. Danny's like 'Yeah, we're bowl eligible.' And I'm saying 'Yeah, but we've gotta keep winning.' We don't want to go to very cold places. We want to go somewhere warm. The Humanitarian Bowl was fun. I had fun out there. But it was freezing cold every night."
It's worth pointing out the 2008 Humanitarian Bowl --- a mid-afternoon Dec. 30 kickoff --- was played in 38-degree conditions. The 2009 EagleBank Bowl in D.C. --- a mid-afternoon Dec. 29 kickoff --- was played in 30-degree conditions.
Let it be said: If Maryland loses Saturday, it would take a series of unforeseen events for it not to wind up in D.C. It makes far too much sense all-around, from both the game's perspective and from a cost-containment standpoint for Maryland.
But a win at least keeps the possibility of a warmer bowl locale alive, and that's not a bad incentive heading into the home finale.