COLLEGE PARK - Another week, another "trap" game coming up for Maryland.
The last time the Terrapins (5-2, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat a nationally ranked foe, as they did 26-0 Saturday over then-No. 21 Wake Forest, they stumbled badly the following week against underdog Virginia.
Coach Ralph Friedgen is hoping the scenario won't repeat itself when the Terps, who dealt Wake Forest its first shutout since 1998, host North Carolina State on Saturday.
N.C. State is winless in the ACC, just as Virginia had been. The Virginia game - and an earlier upset loss to Middle Tennessee State in Week 2 - has ensured that Friedgen will be asked relentlessly by the media about Maryland's penchant for letting down against lesser opponents.
A handful of reporters' questions during Friedgen's media conference call yesterday focused on Maryland's erratic play.
The coach said in response that he couldn't guarantee the Terps would sustain the focus they showed in the Wake Forest win - a game Friedgen believes is the closest his team has come to a perfect outing. Said Terps quarterback Chris Turner: "Even I don't know how we're going to show up on Saturday."
But Friedgen is hopeful. He said the longer the season goes, the easier it is for his older players to realize their college careers won't last forever and to visualize their ultimate goal of an ACC title .
Asked why his team had played so much better than in the 31-0 Virginia loss, Friedgen replied: "Maybe the time to reflect on it and the fact that the season was going by them - the halfway mark. They were very disappointed how they played against Virginia. Our kids are resilient. I think their character shows through."
Friedgen said he counted fewer mental errors - blown assignments and the like - on the offensive line against Wake. That had been a sore point in previous games.
N.C. State (2-5, 0-3 ACC) has lost three in a row. But the Wolfpack has been competitive in its past two games, scoring a combined 48 points against Boston College and Florida State.
Notes: : Cornerback Kevin Barnes will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging on his injured shoulder today. ... Adrian Moten, out with an injured wrist, could return for the Virginia Tech game Nov. 6. He has been valuable as an outside linebacker and pass rusher. ... Friedgen said he never lost faith in running back Da'Rel Scott despite two fumbles (one lost) Saturday. The coach said he told Scott: "I'm not going to stop giving you the ball."
Da'Rel Scott tossed a tailback option pass 9 yards for a touchdown to Darrius Heyward-Bey in the first quarter. Scott had tried such a pass in the California game and failed to spot a wide-open Heyward-Bey in the end zone, throwing incomplete to Chris Turner. He didn't repeat the mistake.
Scott fumbled on Maryland's first possession but was fortunate to have center Edwin Williams recover on Wake's 13. No such luck on the next Maryland series when Scott's fumble was recovered by Wake on the Maryland 25. It led to a missed Wake field goal.
The Terps (5-2, 2-1 ACC) face North Carolina State (2-5, 0-3) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Byrd Stadium.
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM
Line: Maryland by 11 1/2