Terps Seeking a Better Finish

Article excerpt

Byline: Patrick Stevens, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Maryland has been here before.

It was only three years ago when, with a season teetering in the balance, the Terrapins stunned a top-10 team (Florida State) at home, prompting Byrd Stadium to become a mass of hysterical humanity and leaving an up-and-down team at .500.

That group lost its next two games and finished with a losing record. This year's Terps (5-5, 2-4 ACC), who upended then No. 8 Boston College last week to trigger another flooding of the field and will visit Florida State (6-4, 3-4) tomorrow afternoon, want no part of that fate.

"I would hate for it to be" the season's highlight, quarterback Chris Turner said. "I would love to win the next two games and then look back and think BC was the catalyst."

In its singular moment, Saturday's dominance of Boston College provided an immediate payoff for a team mired in a three-game losing streak and repeatedly short-circuited by injuries to pivotal performers. But it is how Maryland follows up on a signature performance that will determine the rest of its season.

The upset could be a springboard for the final two weeks, or it could be just another blip for a group that has proved it is capable of both stunning upsets and baffling meltdowns.

Two more wins, a pair of losses to close out the year, a split of trips to Florida State and N.C. State - they all seem plausible for a team that could be tempted to view its latest accomplishment as the highlight of the season.

"It's human nature, especially after you've had three tough losses and all the sudden we've been successful against a top-10 opponent," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "I think it's the first time in school history that we've won two games against a top-10 team. And yet this team is really deserving of a lot more."

It will have its chances in the last two weeks. Victories over two other teams jockeying for bowl berths - particularly tomorrow, when scouts from the Chick-fil-A, Gator, Champs Sports and Music City bowls are expected to be at Doak Campbell Stadium - only will enhance the Terps' postseason profile. …