Surprising Terps, Cavs Battle for ACC Lead
Posted October 3, 2001 10:40 a.m. EDT
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Maryland and Virginia haven't been Atlantic Coast Conference powers for years, but their annual meeting usually carries some significance.
This year, the game takes on a new meaning, with the conference lead on the line. The No. 25 Terrapins (4-0, 2-0 ACC) are looking for their best start since 1978. Virginia (3-1, 2-0) lost its opener against Wisconsin but earned a shot at first place with wins over Clemson and Duke. Every other ACC team has at least one conference loss, so the winner will have a clear advantage in the championship race.
"The fact that we're playing for a share of the ACC lead makes it the biggest game here in some time," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said.
The last time the two teams played at Maryland two years ago, the Terps were 5-5 and needed a victory over Virginia to qualify for a bowl. Maryland's LaMont Jordan rushed for a school-record 306 yards, but Virginia won 34-30 on a touchdown pass with 26 seconds left.
"That was a crucial point in our season, obviously," Maryland receiver Scooter Monroe said. "That gives us a little bit more motivation to play hard."
From 1969-1988, Maryland won 18 of 19 meetings, but Virginia has won 11 of the last 13, including nine in a row. Friedgen, a Maryland alumnus, said this game has a direct bearing on the success of his program.
"We're in direct competition with Virginia for a lot of high school players. It's a big game for bragging rights."
The Terps' last victory in Charlottesville, in 1990, earned them their last bowl bid, with a 6-5 record.
But Virginia has picked up some important victories at Maryland's expense.
Both times the Cavaliers won the ACC title, in 1989 and 1995, they clinched first place with a victory over the Terps.
George Welsh became the first coach in conference history to win 100 games when Virginia beat Maryland in 1996.
Maryland's players are anxious to turn the tables and show that their perfect record isn't a fluke.
"We have a lot to prove," sophomore linebacker Mike Whaley said. "We're not done yet."