TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Would Maryland view a bowl game as a reward, or as a chance for redemption?
"Both," Jermaine Lewis said. "We feel we're a good football team, and we want an opportunity to prove that. This is not the way I want to end my career."
Lewis and the Terps' run-and-shoot offense piled up plenty of records yesterday, but they were minimized by the numbers on the scoreboard -- No. 6 Florida State put a 59-17 spanking on Maryland before 68,400 at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Florida State (9-1, 7-1) gained a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference title with Virginia, and had a nice prep for No. 3 Florida and a possible date with Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl. Maryland (6-5, 4-4), which concluded its regular season, will finish no better than fifth in the ACC, and it needs help to get into the Carquest Bowl.
Georgia Tech and North Carolina must lose their last games for Maryland to represent the ACC at Joe Robbie Stadium on Dec. 30. Athletic director Debbie Yow has lobbied the Independence and Liberty bowls, but they may not be interested in using an at-large spot on a Terps team that lost five of its last seven games.
Maryland's record improved in coach Mark Duffner's fourth season, but the Terps were outscored 178-77 in their last seven games, and their 19th straight loss to a ranked team was never in doubt yesterday. It was the latest downer for a team that, after a 4-0 start, wanted more than just the program's second winning season in a decade.
"We had a lot of high hopes after the first four games," quarterback Scott Milanovich said. "We're proud we had a winning season, but we're disappointed. At that point, we expected a lot more."
Milanovich missed that quick start on a four-game gambling suspension, but he made up some of the lost statistical ground against a Seminoles defense that Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel is itching to face.
Florida State jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and stretched it to 38-10 early in the third. By then, Duffner decided that the run-and-shoot, and not the I-formation that had been used in recent weeks, was the only way to try to keep up with the Seminoles.
That strategy got an assortment of records for Milanovich and receivers Lewis and Geroy Simon, but it also lengthened the game and added to the chances for the Seminoles' fast-break offense.
Among the record-breakers: Lewis had nine catches, giving him 193 for his career, an ACC mark. Milanovich attempted 62 passes and completed 46, both school records.
Simon, a junior, set Maryland and ACC records with 16 catches. Simon, who set an ACC record last year with 77 catches, has 150 for his career.
And Maryland didn't become the fourth member of the 70/700 Club -- those hapless ACC teams that crawled out of Doak Campbell after giving up 70 points and 700 yards -- but it was easily the worst game of the year for a defense that came in ranked 28th in the nation.
Florida State's 59 points were the most the Terps had allowed since October 1993, when they were shelled 70-7 by Penn State. Maturing Maryland had allowed an average of 323.9 yards in its first 10 games, but the Seminoles torched them for 616.
"Before you get set, they're already into the play," cornerback A. J. Johnson said. "Things happen so fast, and nothing went our way."
Two days earlier, coach Bobby Bowden had signed a contract that made him the highest-paid coach in college football, and yesterday he spread around a wealth of yardage.
Kanell threw for 346 yards, and Thad Busby went the last 21 minutes and got 150.
The Seminoles surpassed the 33-point betting line on a 4-yard pass from Busby to Andre Cooper with 10:32 left, but Bowden said they really weren't all that interested.
"I had a very difficult time getting my team up for this game," Bowden said.
"I guess that could be OK, that we won convincingly without much emotion. But if we don't have emotion, we will get killed next week [at Florida]."
The Seminoles could have been in danger yesterday, but few of Maryland's gambles paid off on a day when Duffner attempted an onside kick and threw passes on two fake punts.
The Terps simply had too many mistakes, be they penalties, turnovers or wasted chances in the red zone, to stay with one of the game's elite teams.
Maryland had three turnovers, the last an interception of Milanovich in the Florida State end zone, the first a fumble by sophomore running back Buddy Rodgers.
A 33-yard touchdown pass to junior Walt Williams on a fake punt by Milanovich had the Terps within 14-7 early in the second quarter, and Maryland felt better after its defense forced a punt.
Sean Liss' kick rolled to the 3, however, and two plays later, Rodgers, again suffering from the fumblitis that hampered him in midseason, coughed up a shovel pass. The Seminoles recovered, and 280-pound fullback Pooh Bear Williams flopped in from the 1 for a 21-7 lead with 12:23 left in the half.
Let the rout begin.
Milanovich kept throwing, but anything the Terps' run-and-shoot could do, the Seminoles' fast-break offense could do better.
"We played a great game," said Kanell, who joined in the record parade with his 55th and 56th career touchdown passes. "I really feel we built a lot of momentum and are on the right track going into the Florida game."
What track are the Terps on? If yesterday was the last hurrah for the one-back, four-receiver offense, Duffner and his staff will be talking to tight ends and tailbacks on the recruiting trail. He and Yow will look at the performance-based contract extension they negotiated last year, and maybe work on a similar deal for beyond 1997.
Before that, however, Maryland will root for Georgia and lame-duck coach Ray Goff to beat Georgia Tech on Thanksgiving Day, and for N.C. State to upset North Carolina on Friday. The Terps will be scoreboard-watching, waiting for both a reward for a winning season, and a chance to redeem a slump that started in September.