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Terps to put up dukes for Duke

October 23, 2002|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - It's not very often that the mention of the name "Duke" goes unnoticed on the Maryland campus.

Duke-Maryland is becoming the new classic matchup in the Atlantic Coast Conferece. It's usually intense. It usually promotes exceptional play.

It's usually winter and basketball season.

In January, the Maryland-Duke matchup makes fans rabid. But when the Terrapins and Blue Devils meet on the football field on Saturday, it'll make most fans sleepy. In the fall, the matchup is Maryland in a cakewalk or else.

The Terrapins realize that, just like in basketball, the road to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship definitely goes through Durham, N.C. And that in itself is keeping the Maryland football team interested.

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"Some people are saying that, but they obviously aren't watching (Duke) play," Maryland defensive tackle C.J. Feldheim said. "This week, they put themselves in a position to win. A lot more people would be talking about them right now if they had won. They are young and they have more coaches helping them out."

Duke is 0-4 in the ACC, already out of the title chase, but still can be very much a factor in who wins the championship. But the Blue Devils have been like greedy trick-or-treaters. They keep knocking on the door, hoping for someone to open it carelessly and leave the treats unattended.

But the Blue Devils are just pesky enough to make Maryland guard its goodies.

"Duke is an improving football team. They are the most sophisticated defensive team we've faced because they use more fronts than we are used to," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. "They are a team like us. They are getting better and better each week. If you look at the films and the scores, Virginia had problems and North Carolina State had trouble with them. They are doing good things on offense and defense."

Duke pushed Virginia on Oct. 5 in a 27-22 loss as Chris Douglas provided 215 all-purpose yards. Turnovers prevented the Blue Devils from being a real factor in a 36-10 loss to Wake Forest. They bounced back last week to push No. 10 North Carolina State 24-22, trying to win the game with a 65-yard field goal at the end of regulation.

"Coach keeps telling us anyone can beat anyone in any game," offensive lineman Kyle Schmitt said. "Last week, Duke scared N.C. State. I was really surprised at that game. I heard N.C. State was up 17-0 and thought they had put it away and then I heard it was 24-22. It shows a lot of character (from Duke) to go into N.C. State and do that."

Maryland has a lot at stake this week, but for a very different reason. The Terps' first seven games have had a major objective or purpose for the season. This game becomes the landmine which can slow Maryland's chances at defending the ACC title.

"We try to come out and treat every game as a big game," Feldheim said. "They have come out and have nearly won a couple of games. We don't want to be the first ones they beat."

The best approach for Maryland may be to forget public perception and forget the record of who they are playing.

"I'm going to tell you right now, we aren't trying to overlook Duke," Maryland tailback Chris Downs said. "We saw what they did against North Carolina State. We have to keep our heads up and play Maryland football."

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