COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -The eerie fashion in which Maryland has performed this season is no joking matter to coach Ralph Friedgen, who has done almost everything imaginable to inspire his team to play to its potential against lesser opponents.
Yet Friedgen couldn't help making light of the situation after the Terrapins knocked off No. 21 Wake Forest 26-0 on Saturday, Maryland's fifth straight win over a ranked foe. Next up: A matchup Saturday against North Carolina State (2-5), the only winless team in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
``Any way you guys can vote them in the Top 25?'' Friedgen asked reporters, flashing a wry grin.
Turning serious, he added, ``I think they're a very dangerous team. I'd like to sit here and guarantee you that I can get these guys right. The only thing I can guarantee is that I'm going to do everything in my power to get them to realize it.''
ennessee (a 24-14 loss), Virginia (a 31-0 defeat) and Delaware (a 14-7 win).
Friedgen hasn't a clue why Maryland plays up - and down - to the competition.
``I can tell you this: If we can find out who we are, and play like we did (Saturday) and keep working, I still think we can get better than we are right now,'' he said. ``Even when were winning, I wasn't pleased with how we were playing.''
Imagine how disappointed he was two weeks ago, when Maryland yielded 427 yards at Virginia. But the defense rebounded in typical fashion, limiting Wake Forest to 219 yards in the Terps' first ACC shutout since 1996.
``We definitely got our swagger back,'' safety Terrell Skinner said.
So did the offense, which was alarmingly ineffective against Virginia. Chris Turner shredded Wake Forest's defense for 321 yards passing and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey had 11 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.
``We knew coming into the game we had to get him the ball. He's our biggest playmaker on offense,'' Turner said of his favorite target. ``Besides that, he was open a lot of the time. They played soft coverage - they didn't want to get burned deep - so we just took what they gave us.''
gular-season games it will be playing for the ACC title in December.
That five-game run includes road games against Boston College and Virginia Tech, but the Terrapins have played well in those circumstances. The biggest challenge might come Saturday against the Wolfpack, and Friedgen will stop at nothing to make sure his players are in the proper frame of mind.
``I'm 61 years old, I'll do cartwheels if I have to,'' he said. ``Whatever it takes.''
Perhaps the only negative about Saturday's uplifting win was that attendance at Byrd Stadium was more than 5,000 short of capacity (51,500) on a lovely fall afternoon.
``I was disappointed in the crowd. This is the third straight ranked team we've played (at home),'' Friedgen said. ``I don't what more they want from this team. We had a bad game (against Virginia) but if you're fans, you stick with us or you don't. We've got to get this place hopping. It's got to be a home-field advantage for us.''

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