- The Washington Times - Monday, November 18, 2002

Around halftime of Maryland's game Saturday at Virginia the Terrapins will learn if they have any chance of repeating as ACC champions. That is about the time Florida State's game at N.C. State will end.
The Wolfpack need to upset the 14th-ranked Seminoles, who have a 7-0 league record and already have clinched at least a share of the title, to give the Terps an opportunity to share the crown and perhaps return to a BCS bowl. Maryland is riding an eight-game winning streak matching its longest since 1978 and with one more win will post back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in program history. The Terps last loss was to Florida State 37-10 on Sept.14.
The 18th-ranked Terps (9-2, 5-1) continued their tear with a 30-12 win at Clemson Saturday. Maryland quarterback Scott McBrien starred and struggled in the same game. He threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, but also tossed three interceptions, after throwing just one pick in his previous seven games. However, it was the Terps' dominant defense that made it an easy victory.
"It keeps us in the conference race," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "We just have to hope and pray that N.C. State can find a way to beat Florida State. I think next week will be a determination whether we are going to play on January1st."
If Maryland wins its final two games and the Seminoles don't falter, the Terps would be guaranteed the ACC's second bowl spot, the Jan.1 Gator Bowl. Should Florida State lose, Maryland would need to win its final two games and hope Florida bests the Seminoles on Nov.30. After losing to Florida State, the only way Maryland can win a tiebreaker and earn a BCS bowl is to finish at least six spots ahead of the Seminoles in the final BCS standings.
A Terps loss could drop them to the Peach Bowl on Dec.31.
The Gator Bowl matches the second-place ACC team against the No.2 team from the Big East or Notre Dame. The eighth-ranked Fighting Irish would be the logical choice if they don't get a BCS bid. That could hinge on their Nov.30 trip to seventh-ranked USC. Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Virginia Tech are also Gator possibilities.
"If we get a chance to play Notre Dame again, we are kind of licking our lips," said receiver Scooter Monroe, whose team was embarrassed by the Fighting Irish 22-0 in the season opener. "I would just like to see how we line up against them today."
There are few ways today's Terps resemble the Terps of the opener, but one of them is the strong defense. The unit did not allow a touchdown to Notre Dame, which scored five field goals and a touchdown on a punt return. On Saturday, the defense held Clemson to four field goals and no touchdowns.
Tackle Randy Starks was a force and a big stopper, particularly on third downs. The 6-foot-4, 302-pound sophomore had three quarterback hurries, two tackles for losses and two pass breakups. Cornerback Domonique Foxworth gathered his fifth interception one play after McBrien threw a pick.
"Our secondary might have played our best game all year," Friedgen said. "I thought Clemson's wide receivers were as any good as any wide receivers we faced all year. We got some rush on [quarterback Charlie] Whitehurst. A lot of times we did it with four people, and sometimes three."
And the offense was productive despite its troubles. The Terps hadn't had a touchdown from a tight end this season, but both Jeff Dugan and Derek Miller caught scoring passes. McBrien also hit Jafar Williams in stride on a 34-yard touchdown pass and scrambled for 54 yards to set up Maryland's first score.
McBrien's interceptions didn't suggest he was nervous or misreading the defense as he had early in the season. The two interceptions on deep balls were underthrown, and the other came after he hesitated.
"I don't think he panicked at any time," Friedgen said. "I don't fault his decisions. He just didn't throw the ball very accurately."
The Terps will be paying attention to the scoreboard on Saturday, but can't afford to take Virginia (7-4, 5-2) lightly. A Cavaliers win would vault them into second place in the ACC and could take away Maryland's Gator Bowl spot.
"I really don't think we are going to know too much about the bowls until after this game and maybe the next game," Friedgen said. "The easiest way to deal with it now is not to worry about it too much."
Notes
Maryland has lost five straight at Virginia, with its last win in 1990. The Terps ended a nine-game losing skid to Virginia with a 41-21 win at Byrd Stadium last season. Chris Downs rushed for 101 yards against Clemson, and is five shy of reaching 1,000 for the season. Bruce Perry had 17 rushes for 69 yards, and two receptions for 18 yards while splitting time with Downs.


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