Terps rank No. 8 with BCS

UM hoping to rise if it can beat Fla. St.

October 23, 2001|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

The Maryland football team, which inspired modest expectations when the season began, was ranked No. 8 last night in the first Bowl Championship Series standings, which eventually determine the national championship game.

It comes one day after the Terps (7-0) got their first Top 10 ranking in the Associated Press poll since the beginning of the 1985 season, checking in at No. 10, and five days before the team's showdown at No. 19 Florida State in Tallahassee on Saturday.

Maryland (No. 12 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll), defeated Duke, 59-17, last weekend and garnered 21.29 points, putting it ahead of Tennessee and behind Michigan. No. 1-rated Oklahoma was awarded 3.06 points. A couple of factors gave a recent boost to the Terrapins - originally picked to finish seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference - and could continue to.

One is attrition among the ranks of the unbeaten, particularly with teams that probably would have ranked ahead of Maryland, now one of eight undefeated major-college squads. Oregon and Fresno State, former members of that club, both squandered leads in the final minutes against Stanford and Boise State, respectively, and it's less likely that either will make a New Year's Day bowl.

Second, the Terps, led by first-year coach Ralph Friedgen, have the easiest road of any of the unbeaten teams, even in a league with four ranked teams, and even factoring in this weekend's game in Tallahassee. Friedgen was not available for comment last night.

Within an ACC that is 3-5 against teams from other BCS conferences (Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10, Southeastern), Maryland's tough- est test beyond Saturday will be unranked Clemson. By contrast, No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 3 Nebraska might have to play each other twice.

Another factor is the rise of No. 23 North Carolina, a team that visited College Park and lost, 23-7, in the season opener. A mere confidence-builder for the Terps against a struggling team at the time, the victory now takes on greater significance as the Tar Heels (five straight wins) continue to defeat ACC opponents.

With a win this weekend, it could set up nicely for the Terps, whose supporters shouldn't be too surprised to see as many as four of the top seven teams fall before the end of the weekend.

As for the league race, a loss to Florida State (3-1 ACC) by itself would not injure Maryland (5-0) too badly, as long as North Carolina (4-1) keeps winning. In the worst-case scenario, that would create a three-way tie atop the ACC, with the highest-ranked team getting the BCS berth.

NOTES: Shaun Hill, who rushed for 105 yards and passed for 323 in the win over Duke, was named the ACC's offensive back of the week. ... Maryland's game against Troy State on Nov. 3 is set for a 1 p.m. kickoff. It will not be televised.

BCS Top 10

The first Bowl Championship Series standings, with total points (full standings on Page 3e):

1. Oklahoma 3.06

2. Nebraska 6.40

3. UCLA 8.34

4. Miami 12.01

5. Virginia Tech 13.88

6. Texas 15.35

7. Michigan 15.91

8. Maryland 21.29

9. Tennessee 22.07

10. Washington State 23.05

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