Maryland will begin the 2002 football season on Aug. 31, facing Notre Dame in the Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium in New Jersey.

The school released its 2002 schedule yesterday. Coming off an appearance in the Orange Bowl, the Terps will play a school-record 13 games.

The second year of the Ralph Friedgen era also will feature Atlantic Coast Conference matchups at Byrd Stadium against Florida State and Georgia Tech.

The defending ACC champion Terps return 16 starters and 44 letter-winners from the past season's 10-2 squad.

The opener is the first meeting between the Terps and Irish, who have a new coach in Tyrone Willingham. The Aug. 31 game, scheduled to be televised nationally on ABC, matches 1996 as the earliest start to a season in school history.

The Terps are also scheduled to play in front of a national cable television audience on Thursday, Oct. 17, when they play host to Georgia Tech and its first-year coach, Chan Gailey. That game will be on ESPN.

Maryland's 2002 schedule includes five teams that advanced to bowl games in 2001: Florida State, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Clemson and North Carolina.

Should the Terps advance to a bowl, they would play 14 games.

This season marks the first year Division I-A teams can play 12-game regular-season schedules that do not include exempt contests. Maryland is allowed a 13th regular-season contest because the Kickoff Classic is considered an exempt game.

Also, the NCAA announced yesterday that Maryland recorded the second-largest home attendance increase for all Division I-A football institutions when compared with 2000 statistics.

The Terps averaged 43,564 fans in seven home dates, a 27.6 percent increase over last year's attendance average (34,129). Maryland's 2001 home attendance total of 304,953 included the fourth-largest crowd in stadium history (52,462, vs. Clemson).

Said athletic director Debbie Yow: "Coach Friedgen and I thank our fans for their attendance and enthusiastic support, especially at the last home game against Clemson when they packed Byrd Stadium."

Maryland schedule

(Times TBA)

Date Opponent TV

Aug. 31 Notre Dame-a ABC

Sept. 7 Akron

Sept. 14 Florida State

Sept. 21 Eastern Michigan

Sept. 28 Troy State

Oct. 5 at West Virginia

Oct. 17 Georgia Tech ESPN

Oct. 27 at Duke

Nov. 2 at North Carolina

Nov. 9 N.C. State

Nov. 16 at Clemson

Nov. 23 at Virginia

Nov. 30 Wake Forest a-at East Rutherford, N.J. Note: TV for other games TBA