COLLEGE PARK -- They're calling it the second season at Maryland, and hoping that it goes better than the first.
Four of the Terps' first five opponents are in the Associated Press Top 25, and the other received votes. But the schedule, with the notable exception of No. 1 Florida State on Nov. 6, begins to lighten up with Saturday's visit to Georgia Tech.
There are three distinct divisions in the Atlantic Coast Conference. No. 1 Florida State moved down from a league of its own when it joined the ACC last year.
The Terps also have road games against Clemson and North Carolina State, which are in the second group with Virginia and North Carolina.
Half of Maryland's six remaining games are against its fellow members of the ACC's third tier.
The others each have one victory, but Georgia Tech and Wake Forest beat Division I-AA teams, and Duke's win was over Army.
Georgia Tech has struggled offensively, but its problems could be solved against Maryland, which is ranked last in Division I-A in every team defensive category: rushing, pass efficiency, total defense and points allowed.
Look on bright side
Maryland needs several more strong recruiting classes before it can begin to think about being competitive with the ACC's best.
Some of the area high school seniors on its shopping list were at Byrd Stadium Saturday night, and a 70-7 loss to Penn State was a reminder of how far away the Terps are from respectability.
"We're pushing the opportunity to play right away," coach Mark Duffner said. "If you want to play against the best teams in the country and play early in your career, Maryland is the choice."
Youth is getting its chance this year. Tim Watson, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound outside linebacker, became the sixth true freshman to play for the defense and the 10th overall when he played for the first time Saturday. He was in on seven tackles against the Nittany Lions.
Sophomore QB Scott Milanovich had a sore right shoulder last week, but it didn't affect his practice routine. . . . His top wide receiver, Jermaine Lewis, is on a pace for 81 catches, which would better the school record of 75 set by Marcus Badgett last year. . . . Despite having only five starts, Milanovich needs one more touchdown pass to break into the Terps' career top 10. . . . Jamie Bragg was visible when he snapped a ball past Milanovich and out of the end zone for a safety, but Duffner said the junior center played his best game of the season.