COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -Maryland stumbled on its only road trip of the season, and that journey was nothing compared to the challenge the Terrapins face Saturday in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener.
There aren't too many places in the nation more difficult for a visiting team than Clemson, which packs 81,500 orange-clad fans into a stadium appropriately known as Death Valley.
``I've played there so many times. It's what college football is all about,'' Terrapins coach Ralph Friedgen said Tuesday. ``It's exciting, it's loud, it's a tough place to play.''
That doesn't even begin to address the talent of the 20th-ranked Tigers (3-1), picked by many to win the ACC and coming off three straight wins by a combined 126-26 score. That, and the fact that Maryland lost to lowly Middle Tennessee State on the road earlier this season, does not bode well for the Terrapins.
ow how important this game is, and I think the atmosphere is definitely going to get everyone going once we get down there. If you want to win the conference you have to be able to win on the road, so we definitely have to do that this Saturday.''
Senior center Edwin Williams was part of a Maryland team that won 13-12 at Clemson two years ago. He enjoyed leaving all those fans frustrated, and can only hope to do it again.
``The atmosphere is crazy, but it's actually what you expect in college football,'' Williams said. ``It's kind of one of the things you look forward to. At the same time, playing center it's not an ideal situation. I have to be really focused on my quarterback, the offensive linemen, and make the right calls.''
For someone who has never experienced playing in Death Valley, there's really no way to prepare except perhaps to listen to a few words from a guy who's been there.
``Yesterday I was telling everybody, you don't know how loud this place is,'' Williams said. ``If we can't hear each other, we'll just find another way to communicate. We'll be fine. We have guys who have played in big games, which is a good thing.''
The Terps have more to worry about than the crowd. Five Maryland defensive backs are on the injury list, and the depth chart includes five freshmen.
That's one reason why the Terrapins rank 109th in the nation in passing yardage allowed. Middle Tennessee State amassed 284 yards through the air, California had 423 and Eastern Michigan had 282.
Clemson, without a doubt, has taken notice.
``I know they're looking at that,'' Friedgen said, ``and they're smiling.''

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