#17: The Maryland Terrapins

Seeing his first live action since transferring from West Virginia and sitting out a year per NCAA rules, Maryland quarterback Scott McBrien got off to a slow start last season. But once he got rolling he guided the Terps to 10 wins in their last 11 games, throwing for 15 touchdowns and running for seven more.

Six of his top seven receivers are back, led by Jafar Williams, who averaged better than 20 yards a catch. If injury-slowed tailback Bruce Perry can return to his ACC Offensive Player of the Year form of 2001, opponents would be ill-advised to key on the passing game.

The defense returns almost intact. Key word: almost. Linebacker E.J. Henderson was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year for two years in a row, and replacing him is a lot to ask. Tackle Randy Starks, linebacker Leon Joe and cornerback Curome Cox are among the ACC's best at their respective positions.

Score galore: Under coach Ralph Friedgen, the Terps have broken the school's scoring record in back-to-back seasons.

Elite status: Maryland is one of just five schools in Division I-A to have won 10 or more games in each of the last two seasons.

Rare feat: In 2002, Maryland won 11 games for the first time since 1976 and only the second time ever.

2002 results: 113 (62 ACC)

Bowl Game: Beat Tennessee 30-3 in Peach Bowl

Returning starters: 6 offense, 9 defense, placekicker

2003 Schedule:

A. 30 at Northern Illinois
S. 6 at Florida State
S. 13 The Citadel
S. 20 West Virginia
S. 27 at Eastern Michigan
O. 4 Clemson
O. 11 Duke
O. 23 at Georgia Tech
N. 1 North Carolina
N. 13 Virginia
N. 22 at NC State
N. 29 at Wake Forest

Schedule Analysis: The Terps will barely have their feet wet when they travel to Tallahassee for a Sept. 6 mega-game with Florida State. Maryland has had two brilliant seasons back-to-back, but they haven't solved the Seminoles yet, losing by an average of 40 points in the last two meetings. Still, even if the Terps do not beat FSU, they can rally and win what should be a very competitive ACC race. Maryland should win its next four ACC games before an important three-game close of Virginia, at NC State and at Wake Forest that will test the Terps.

Final Word: A third straight 10-win season should be in the cards for Maryland, especially if Bruce Perry can produce like he did in 2001. A win over Florida State early, which is a decent possibility given the instability in Tallahassee, could springboard the Terps into the top 5 by mid-October. There are four contenders in the ACC, and Maryland will certainly be in the mix all year.

Clemson Slant: The Terps have manhandled the Tigers in each of the last two seasons, defeating Clemson by an average score of 34-16. Unfortunately, the 2003 matchup that will take place between these two teams on October 4th in College Park appears to be just as tough.

Head coach Ralph Friedgen has had the Tigers' number ever since his days at Georgia Tech as the Yellow Jackets' offensive coordinator, when he directed the Tech offense to 5 consecutive 3-point wins over Clemson.

This year, Friedgen has 15 starters back from a 10-win team, including the 2001 ACC Offensive Player of the Year in running back Bruce Perry.

On defense, the Tigers have been unable to stop the potent Maryland ground game, as the Terps have averaged almost 235 yards in each of their last two victories over Clemson.

In addition, the inability to score touchdowns after getting into the redzone and turnovers have ultimately led to the Tigers' demise on offense.

While the talent level at Maryland isn't necessarily outstanding, Friedgen has the Terps playing with confidence, and in the college football world, a confident team with good team chemistry will usually win you a lot of games.

To pre-order the 2003 Athlon Sports Atlantic Coast edition, click on the magazine icon below. The Atlantic Coast and National editions are set to hit newsstands June 6.

#17 Maryland

CUTigers.com Top Stories