Mountaineers lost earlier meeting

Updated: November 30, 2003, 7:27 PM ET
Associated Press

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia accepted an invitation Sunday to play in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1 against Maryland (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today, No. 24 AP).

West Virginia (8-4) finished the regular season with seven consecutive victories. The Mountaineers (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP) started the season 1-4, including a 34-7 loss at Maryland.

The Terrapins finished 9-3 after losing their first two games.

West Virginia finished tied with Miami for the Big East title, but the Hurricanes got the conference's automatic BCS bid based on beating the Mountaineers and having a higher BCS ranking.

West Virginia is making its fourth trip to the Gator Bowl. The Mountaineers lost on previous tries to Florida State after the 1982 season, Clemson after the 1989 season and North Carolina after the 1996 season.

Maryland, runner-up to Florida State in the ACC, also is making its fourth Gator Bowl trip. The Terrapins last appeared in 1975, when they beat Florida 13-0.

The Gator Bowl will have a $1.825 million payout to each team.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press