- The Washington Times - Monday, September 1, 2003

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden wasn’t surprised by Maryland’s 20-13 overtime loss at Northern Illinois on Thursday. He learned to never open the season at a nonconference opponent’s field after being upset at Louisville last year.

“My first thought — don’t play Louisville at Louisville,” Bowden said yesterday. “That was the same situation. Anytime you do that, you’re just asking for trouble. Ohio State was lucky to get away from Cincinnati last year.”

Too bad the Terrapins can’t get off the road yet. No.15 Maryland visits No.13 Florida State (1-0) Saturday not only hoping to avoid an 0-2 start that would severely hamper its chances of reaching a major bowl game but also to beat the Seminoles for the first time. Maryland is 0-13 against Florida State, all double-digit losses. The Terps follow with six of eight games at home, but losing two straight beforehand would leave little margin for a program hoping to elevate itself into the top 10 following two strong seasons.

“We’re really better than what we showed the other night,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “I still have every confidence we can be a good football team. After I watched the film the first time, I felt better than after I watched the game. It comes down to how good a team [the Terps want] to be. If they have that [desire], I think we have a chance at a good season. If they don’t, we may not have a good season.”

Certainly, Florida State won’t provide many second chances at redemption following its 37-0 victory over North Carolina on Saturday. The Seminoles were a suspect pick by ACC writers in the preseason poll to win the conference, but Florida State opened with three touchdowns in four possessions to indicate its past offensive woes are forgotten. Quarterback Chris Rix completed 17 of 26 passes for 232 yards for one touchdown and scored two more rushing.

Still, Bowden isn’t ready to embrace Florida State’s return to dominance.

“We can’t judge it on one game,” he said. “We’re not as good as we looked. Somewhere reality has to come out. Everything went our way, and it doesn’t always work like that. I saw a bunch of missed tackles, missed blocks.

“I don’t think we’ve had enough success to get complacent. Back when we had top-four finishes all the time, our biggest problem was complacency. These last two years you saw what happened when we were complacent. I think these kids are hungry and not been complacent. Even though we won, it doesn’t mean it will happen this week unless we’re completely committed.”

Conversely, Friedgen has been upset over the lack of commitment by some unidentified Terps. Although no lineup changes are expected, Friedgen met with his players for 90 minutes yesterday.

“I don’t know if I’m reaching these guys,” he said. “I think we have some leaders on this team. Maybe this is just a feeling I have. I would hope they would be ready to play this week. We’ll have to wait and see.”

But Friedgen was noncommittal on the team’s mood, saying, “For the most part, they were pretty good. There was one guy with a stupid smile on his face. Maybe there are some guys I’m not reaching.”

Friedgen was frustrated over the late breakdowns against Northern Illinois after the Terps took a 13-10 lead with 9:10 remaining. Penalties helped fuel two late Huskies drives for a field goal and a potential-winning field goal attempt with 1.3 seconds left that was blocked.

“When the game was on the line on both sides, we didn’t meet the challenge,” he said, “and that’s why we ultimately lost the football game.”

Running back Bruce Perry may test his high ankle sprain today after missing nearly one month. Friedgen said Perry would have to show he was completely healthy to play rather than risking a long-term injury. Friedgen was unsure when returner Steve Suter (hamstring) would be back. The Terps didn’t suffer any serious injuries against Northern Illinois.

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