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Terps climbing charts again

November 13, 2002|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - There is something harmonious about the Maryland football team this season.

Like every sporting team in America, the Terrapins are out to win and claim a conference championship - which, for them, would mean defending the Atlantic Coast Conference they won in shocking fashion last season.

That would be the prize for a team which had become an afterthought when it started the season 1-2. But Scooter Monroe has a better answer to the musical question "Why does Maryland want to win the ACC title again?"

"We want to show everyone that we aren't one-hit wonders," the receiver said during Tuesday during Maryland's weekly media conference.

With apologies to the Starland Vocal Band and Right Said Fred, Maryland is back on the charts again. But they need a lot of help to be a No. 1 hit again.

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The Terps completely overcame the early clinkers last Saturday with a 17-point comeback to knock off then-No. 13 North Carolina State 24-21, re-establish themselves in the national polls (No. 19) and take sole possession of second place in the league.

It's going to take a community effort for the Terps to complete the trip back to the top of the charts.

"We have to win out and we have to pray the chips fall our way," Monroe said. "Every week we have to come to play. In November, there is a lot more at stake. Our destiny is in someone else's hands. We have to win out and pray."

That was pretty much the case in 2001 when Maryland came out of nowhere and shocked the world with its championship and trip to the Orange Bowl. The Terps won their games and allowed the ACC competition to beat up on each other to give them a cushion.

This year, the Terps have risen from the ashes to put themselves in the same place, thanks to a seven-game winning streak.

That leaves Maryland a game behind Florida State in the ACC standings. The Terps have to win remaining games at Clemson and Virginia and a home finale against Wake Forest to have any chance.

And somewhere along the line, Florida State has to lose once - and preferably twice - in games against North Carolina and North Carolina State followed by an independent rivalry matchup with Florida.

Add to it the jumbled possibilities of the Bowl Championship Series, and Maryland isn't out of it, but it does have to be patient.

Winning does it to you. The more you can win, the more you think you can win," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "We aren't the same team that played (and lost to) Florida State or Notre Dame."

The immediate task at hand is trying to find a win this week at Clemson. Maryland hasn't won at "Death Valley" in eight tries, dating back to 1985.

"I don't know anything about that," Monroe said. "Back then, I was 4-years-old and watching the WWF and taking it easy. Last year, (things like that) meant more and we went out and beat all the teams. Now we just have to go out and do the job."

But Fridgen is aware of Clemson's hold at Memorial Stadium and has a positive spin to the task at hand.

"I made them aware of it (the losing streak at Clemson)," Friedgen said. "It seems like everywhere we go we have one of those types of records. Way back when I was playing, Maryland played there well. Back then, Maryland was one of the winningest teams to play down there. I don't know what the record is now, but I hope we are able to get back to that."

And it'll be played in an arena that Friedgen and the Terps have learned to like.

"Clemson has got 85,000 pulling for one team and they are vocal and loud. I like playing there actually," Friedgen said. "It's what college football is all about. The pagentry. The Tiger Rag. I just hope they don't get to play that that often on Saturday."

The Terps just have to take care of themselves and root for North Carolina State to rebound in the weeks to come.

"We were in the same situation last year and we are back in it again this year," Maryland placekicker Nick Novak said. "We are sitting pretty right now."

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