- The Washington Times - Monday, November 4, 2002

The Maryland Terrapins are starting to get some national recognition coming off their 59-7 plastering of North Carolina on Saturday. Six consecutive wins have returned the Terps to a national poll for the first time since the preseason. They were rated No.25 in the coaches' poll, and were a few votes away from re-entering the Associated Press rankings.
The Terps have beaten opponents by an average of 35 points in the streak and have not won by less than 24. They will get their most formidable challenge since their last loss on Sept.14 when Heisman trophy candidate Philip Rivers and 14th-ranked N.C. State visit Byrd Stadium on Saturday.
"I don't know if you can call this a litmus test," Terps coach Ralph Friedgen said. "But it's the best team we've played since Florida State."
Maryland (7-2, 3-1 ACC) is back in the race to repeat as league champion, and will need to beat the Wolfpack (9-1, 4-1) to have any chance. N.C. State saw its perfect season end on Saturday when it was upset by Georgia Tech 24-17. Florida State, ranked 17th, is 5-0 in the ACC, and visits the Wolfpack on Nov.23.
The Terps appear to be in line for either the Gator Bowl on New Year's Day or the Peach Bowl. They realistically would have to win out and hope Florida State loses at least one, and more likely two games, for them to have a shot at a repeat appearance in a BCS bowl.
"There's a lot of possibilities that could happen," said Friedgen, who learned of N.C. State's loss when the pilot on Maryland's charter plane home informed him. The coach was hoping to hear news of Florida State also losing, but the Seminoles came from behind to win 34-21 at Wake Forest.
Maryland has become bowl eligible with a growing collection of big plays from tailback Chris Downs, quarterback Scott McBrien and return man Steve Suter, who matched an NCAA Division I-A record on Saturday when he became the eighth player to return four punts for touchdowns in a season.
The Terps also have benefited from several reserves becoming steady contributors lately as the team battles some injuries. Rush linebacker Shawne Merriman recorded three sacks and a team-high seven tackles in Saturday's win. The true freshman has played more because Jamahl Cochran is limited with a strained hamstring.
Stephon Heyer, another true freshman, got his first start at left tackle and was part of an offensive line that steamrolled the Tar Heels for 388 yards rushing. Heyer will be counted on again this week as starter Matt Crawford (knee) and top reserve Kyle Schmitt (shoulder) are each likely to miss a second game.
The defensive line is getting a boost from perhaps an even more unlikely source, a forgotten fifth-year senior. William Shime made his first career start at nose tackle in place of C.J. Feldheim, who was lost for the season with torn knee ligaments in the Oct.26 win over Duke. Shime was part of a defense that held North Carolina to 14 yards rushing on 18 carries in the first half.
The backups have blended in so well that they have helped the Terps become an unlikely contender for the ACC title and a top bowl. They also are nationally ranked for the first time since August.
"That's nice, but it doesn't count until the end," Friedgen said. "I can keep from getting euphoric over it. If we keep winning, we'll keep getting higher in the polls. I'm glad we are getting noticed though."
Tailback Bruce Perry (shoulder) is feeling better and might play this week. Reserve defensive lineman Scott Smith played against North Carolina after missing the Duke game with back problems. Downs, who ran for 157 yards and four touchdowns on Saturday, is third in the ACC in rushing, averaging 90.8 yards a game.

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