- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 16, 2002

Maryland's impressive present will meet its dubious recent past tonight at Clemson. The Terrapins can establish their longest winning streak in 24 seasons if they can snap a run of eight losses in Death Valley since 1985.
"It seems like everywhere we go, we have got one of those records to beat," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "I mention it to [the players]. Then we just get back to our business of how we are going to beat them."
The Terps (8-2, 4-1 ACC) are riding the nation's fourth-longest winning streak at seven games and are in position to claim a spot in the Gator Bowl on New Year's Day. They have a chance to repeat as ACC champions if Florida State loses at least one of its final two league games. With a victory today, Maryland can become the first Terps team to record back-to-back nine-win seasons since 1985.
"With every game we win, we have a very special part of Maryland football history," Friedgen said.
The Tigers (6-4, 4-3) need a win to secure a bowl bid and keep coach Tommy Bowden's job out of further jeopardy. Clemson lost its last home game to 22nd-ranked N.C. State 38-6 before posting road wins against ACC weaklings Duke and North Carolina.
The Terps easily defeated Clemson 37-20 at Byrd Stadium last season, which snapped an overall eight-game losing streak against the Tigers and gave Maryland its first ACC title in 16 seasons. Suddenly, Death Valley doesn't look as intimidating as it used to.
"We're on a roll," Terps defensive end Durrand Roundtree said. "The fact that other [Maryland] teams since 1985 haven't been able to [win at Clemson] is motivating. We want to show we can go to a hostile environment and come out on top."
Maryland is 3-0 in road games this season and 6-1 since Friedgen arrived last season, with the only loss at Florida State. During that span, the Terps have won at difficult places like Georgia Tech, N.C. State and West Virginia. And the Terps hadn't won at North Carolina since 1988 a span of seven games before clobbering the Tar Heels 59-7 two weeks ago in Chapel Hill.
"We get a scouting report on Mondays," Roundtree said. "It has our record against our opponent, going back from 1985 to the present. Sometimes all you see is 'L's' [losses]. You don't want to look at that, but it's printed there on the page. I think coaches put it there on purpose to let us know we have a chance to have a 'W' on that page."
The Terps are feeling more confident than ever after last week's 24-21 win over N.C. State. Maryland hadn't been in a game decided by fewer than 22 points before rallying from a 14-point third-quarter deficit and scoring the game's final 17 points.
"We kind of made it hard on ourselves, but everybody needs a close game to build character," said Maryland receiver Steve Suter, who is averaging 17.9 yards every time he touches the ball. "So if we get into crunch time again, we'll know what it's like."
Suter already has matched the NCAA Division I-A record with four punt returns for touchdowns this season and is getting an increasing role in the offense. The sophomore scored Maryland's first points last week on a 64-yard end-around play and set up Nick Novak's winning field goal with a 36-yard reception.
"We ran a reverse with him; we ran a shovel pass with him," said Friedgen, who also got Suter in the game with three- and four-receiver sets. "He's a playmaker. We're smart enough to know to get the ball in the hands of the guys that can make the plays."
Maryland did not have a turnover against the Wolfpack. In fact, quarterback Scott McBrien has only thrown one interception in seven games and is 13th nationally in passing efficiency.
Clemson, meanwhile, hopes it has found the answer at quarterback in Charlie Whitehurst, son of former Green Bay Packers quarterback David Whitehurst. The redshirt freshman has started the last two games after Willie Simmons was benched. Whitehurst passed for 694 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions in those starts but won't get his first start against a top defense until tonight.
Clemson's is strong at receiver, with several dangerous players led by 6-foot-4, 220-pound Derrick Hamilton. The Tigers know their biggest challenge will be to contain Maryland linebacker E.J. Henderson, a Butkus Award finalist.
"He is in the middle where he can make a lot of plays from sideline to sideline," Bowden said of Henderson, who considered turning pro after becoming an All-American last season. "I wish he wouldn't have stayed [in college]."
Notes Maryland offensive tackle Matt Crawford (knee sprain) is expected to start at right tackle. Friedgen was an assistant coach at The Citadel in the mid-'70s and coached against Furman, whose quarterback was David Whitehurst. Friedgen can match the ACC mark for most wins in a coach's first two years in the league. Ken Hatfield set the mark with a 19-4-1 record at Clemson in 1990 and 1991. Friedgen is 18-4 overall.


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