COLLEGE PARK — COLLEGE PARK -- Is there any chance that Maryland is taking for granted a victory over Tulane, which would allow the Terps to enter November with a .500 record?
"Look, our heads haven't gotten big enough to overlook anyone," quarterback Scott Milanovich said. "Everyone's talking about the possibility of us winning three in a row at home, but [last] Saturday's win won't mean anything unless we do it again."
The Terps (3-4) continue a three-game homestand Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against the Green Wave. The team from New Orleans is the third straight visitor, after Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, to stumble into Byrd Stadium with one victory, and Maryland is nearly a two-touchdown favorite to reach the four-win level for the first time since 1990.
It's the second time this season -- the first was against Wake Forest -- that Maryland is a clear favorite. The Terps were heavy underdogs in losses to Florida State and North Carolina, and went 2-2 in games that were viewed as toss-ups, as they beat West Virginia and Georgia Tech, and lost to Duke and Clemson.
A victory is considered a must if the Terps are to have any hope of a winning season, because their last three games come at home against North Carolina State (5-1), at No. 18 Virginia (6-1) and at No. 14 Syracuse (6-1).
Coach Mark Duffner's sales job on reasons to respect Tulane (1-6) include a 15-13 victory over Rice, which could represent the Southwest Conference in the Cotton Bowl, and a 20-10 loss to No. 8 and unbeaten Alabama.
However, the Green Wave also is the fourth Terps foe to rank near the bottom of the nation in total offense, and its defense will have to contend with a Maryland attack that is coming off one of its most cohesive efforts in Duffner's three seasons. In Saturday's 42-27 victory over Georgia Tech, Milanovich wasn't sacked or intercepted, despite attempting 31 passes. In addition, the offense didn't commit a penalty.
Milanovich, who completed 22 of 31 for 302 yards, was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Offensive Back of the Week. He ranks first on the Terps' career list in completion percentage (.642); second in completions (397) and touchdown passes (35); and third in passing yards (4,849).
Upon further review
Duffner was commenting on the video highlights at his weekly media briefing yesterday when he saw celebrations that made him wince. After superback Allen Williams and wide receiver Jermaine Lewis turned short tosses from Milanovich into touchdowns, they shed their helmets, a practice that has become a staple for any college football player in the same ZIP code as a minicam.
"We're going to change that," said Duffner.
"I want the kids to have fun. We like to be as enthusiastic and celebrate as much as anyone. I haven't addressed it in a couple of years, but I will."
This will be the first Maryland-Tulane game since 1981, but Duffner and Green Wave coach Buddy Teevens don't need introductions. Duffner's Holy Cross teams went 5-0 against Dartmouth and Teevens from 1987 to '91. . . . The Tulane staff includes tight ends and special teams coach John Baxter. He spent the previous two seasons as a Maryland assistant in charge of running backs and special teams, but was one of three Terps coaches fired last December. . . . Maryland is expecting in excess of 30,000 Saturday. For ticket information, call (800) 462-8377.