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Terps' attitude far from cavalier

November 22, 2002|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - It may be only a football game, but Maryland's matchup with Virginia on Saturday reads more like a Chinese menu.

The importance of the game is all a matter of what column you read.

So, what would be the most important aspect of a win over Virginia?

There is more than a plateful of theories to consider.

  • Column A: The Terrapins beat a natural rival - There is something about beating Virginia that gives Maryland one of those pleasures that only football teams understand.
  • "Virginia is a rival because it is a neighboring state - just like West Virginia is a rival for us - and they are in our conference," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said.

    Many rivalries have been born for geographical reasons which, in some cases, carry whimsical trophies. For Maryland, it is just a matter of pride.

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"Wins and losses don't mean much in this game. It's a rivalry," Maryland receiver Jafar Williams said. "This is as good as it gets. Coach says just win the next game and Virginia is the next game. It's big, but it's bigger to the media than it is for us."

A win, in some circles, translates into an upper hand during recruiting season. But Friedgen won't be that specific.

"There are people who go to Maryland and there are people who go to Virginia," he said. "It all depends on what you like. I went to Maryland."

  • Column B: A win has national poll implications - Wins are wins and the teams that win the most move up in the various polls.
  • Still, if the Terps would happen to win a piece of the ACC title - provided conference-leading Florida State falls to North Carolina State - Maryland must finish five spots higher in the Bowl Championship Series poll to win the right to return to one of the four major bowls.

    "We don't worry about the national implications or about the recognition," Williams said. "We have to win."

  • Column C: A win equals better bowl - Maryland's bowl standing would improve dramatically, not by the Terps beating Virginia (which is a must) but by N.C. State's fate with Florida State.
  • N.C. State wins and Maryland still has a chance for the ACC title and a BCS bowl. If the Wolfpack loses, the best the Terps can do is finish second.

    "If we win this game, we can play on either Jan. 1 or Dec. 31. That is just icing on the cake for this rivalry," Friedgen said. "I'd like to end up in a BCS Bowl. After being at one of those ... those bowls are different."

    Besides the huge difference in paydays, Friedgen would prefer for the Terps to play around the New Year's holiday so preparing for the game doesn't interfere with final exams.

    It just adds to the intrigue of the game.

    "Anytime there is an ACC game, it's a big game," Maryland defensive back Madieu Williams said. "The bowl is important, but we still have a lot to do.

    Still, the reality of the game is evident.

    "This game lets us know where we are going," Maryland receiver Latrez Harrison said. "If we win, we have a chance to win the ACC. If we win, we go to a major bowl. If we lose, it changes things."

  • Column D: It's an ACC win and that's all that matters - But the reality of the Virginia game is nothing else matters if Florida State wins and/or Maryland loses.
  • "If we lose, we are tied for second in the ACC and that's not what we want," Harrison said. "We are trying to prove that we aren't one-hit wonders."



  • There is a very thin line dividing reality and hope for Maryland.

    "This is a big game this week. If we can win and somehow Florida State could lose to North Carolina State, we could be co-champs," Friedgen said. "The point right now is we need to win the game to have a chance at the conference championship."

    And somehow, the whole menu of rivalry, polls, bowl games and ACC title comes together this weekend.

    "We have to look at the game as a rivalry which helps with the preparation, but we have to look at it as an ACC game," Jafar Williams said. "If we lose it, we are out (of any shot of winning the ACC title.) If we win, it all takes care of itself."

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