Thrashed Terps turn focus to Troy State

League race helps UM not dwell on first loss

Maryland notebook

College Football

October 31, 2001|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- For the third time this year, the Maryland football team goes from an emotionally charged game to what appears to be a laugher, this time against Troy State.

But in a first, the 7-1 Terrapins -- who dropped to No. 15 in the Associated Press poll -- must rebound from a loss, a 52-31 decision against Florida State. With three games left, getting that loss out of their mind may make preparing for 4-3 Troy State easier than for the Duke or Eastern Michigan games, the last two teams against whom they were heavily favored.

"We can't dwell on [the loss to Florida State] and blow the last three," strong safety Tony Jackson said. He explained how his team has a shot at being the third Maryland team to win 10 games in a season, and still has a shot at the conference title. "You can't be a championship team unless you take care of your business."

Holding one conference loss along with Florida State and North Carolina, Maryland would need only to win its final three games and finish with the highest ranking of the three to get the league's Bowl Championship Series berth.

The team will continue without cornerback Tony Okanlawon, who is out indefinitely with an unspecified illness. He did not practice yesterday, but did practice Monday. Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen described his cornerback's progress as "a day-to-day thing."

This nonconference game, in a sense, pits two of the nation's surprise teams against each other. The Terps made their way into the AP top 10 last week with a group that was picked to finish seventh in the ACC.

But the Trojans from Troy, Ala., also have fared better than many would have expected in this, their first season in NCAA Division I-A. The team led No. 2 Nebraska for eight minutes in its I-A debut before losing 42-14, and it was tied with top-ranked Miami through nearly two quarters in its fourth game before breaking through on the road to upset Mississippi State, 21-9.

That game caught a lot of attention throughout the nation, and Maryland's players were aware of Troy State, though not where the team was from. At least not exactly.

"Down South," was the answer from Charles Hill, a senior nose tackle. "They beat Mississippi State, an SEC school, and played with Miami and Nebraska. So they have some talent and we can't overlook them."

FSU silver lining

The most costly moments for Maryland during its loss to Florida State were the turnovers that led to 21 points for its opponent, which also turned out to be the final margin. The dropped passes also stood out, squelching opportunities for big gains.

More subtly, however, the Terps were able to move against Florida State more effectively than ever in the 12-game series history, gaining 428 yards, including 214 on the ground.

When asked about his team's rushing performance -- at 5.5 yards a carry -- Friedgen said, "We ran for 230 yards against Florida State -- you want more? I've been shut out against those guys."

TV available Saturday

The Troy State game will be televised on a pay-per-view basis by Comcast, with proceeds from the $5 fee being donated to the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, including the Tornado Victims Fund.

"With Maryland leading the ACC and fighting for a major bowl berth, we know fans want to see this game," Comcast SportsNet president David Nevins said.

Miscellaneous

Starting left guard Todd Wike may play on Saturday after a concussion last week, though he did not practice yesterday. Reserve free safety Curtis Williams, who suffered a hamstring injury in the Duke game, has a 75 percent chance of playing. Wide receiver Rich Parson (sore shoulder) is probable.

Next for Maryland

Opponent: Troy State (4-3)

Site: Byrd Stadium, College Park

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Comcast pay-per-view/WBAL (1090 AM)

Line: Maryland by 23

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