Double Whammy: Terrapins Face Va. Tech … on Thursday

Maryland hasn't defeated Hokies in Friedgen era

Since Ralph Friedgen took over at Maryland in 2001, the Terrapins are winless against Virginia Tech and 3-6 on Thursday nights -- including four straight defeats over the past four seasons.

If No. 23 Maryland is to stay on course to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, it will have to overcome both glaring weaknesses.

The Terrapins (6-2, 3-1) are alone atop the league's Atlantic Division with four games left. If Maryland wins out, it will play in the league title game for the first time.

"No matter how you cut it up," Friedgen said Tuesday, "we control our own destiny."

Facing Virginia Tech on the road is enough of a challenge, but it becomes more difficult on Thursday night. The Hokies (5-3, 2-2) have won 14 of their last 17 on Thursday night and are 8-2 at home in those games since the start of the 1994 season.

Maryland, on the other hand, has lost both its night games this season. So the Terrapins must beat Virginia Tech to show the rest of the country they're truly ready for prime time.

"When you win, it's tremendous exposure not only for your football team and your football program, but also for your school," Friedgen said.

The last time Maryland faced the Hokies on a Thursday night in Blacksburg, Va., Virginia Tech rolled to a 55-6 win in 2004. The following year, the Hokies beat the Terrapins 28-9 at Maryland -- on Thursday night.

"It's extra motivation. Obviously, it means something to us because of the stage we're going to be playing on. It's going to be a big game," Terps defensive end Jeremy Navarre said. "We're an experienced team and we've been in that situation before, so it's not like we're going into it eyes wide open. We're going to be ready for it."

Unfortunately for Maryland, the Hokies have fallen out of the Top 25. The Terrapins have defeated three ranked teams this season but lost to unranked Middle Tennessee State and Virginia in addition to squeezing out narrow wins over Delaware (14-7) and North Carolina State (27-24).

Maryland quarterback Chris Turner is 4-0 as a starter against ranked teams. This won't be one of those games, but facing the Hokies on the road under the lights is as close as it gets.

"I just don't know what to expect," said Turner, who has never faced Virginia Tech. "I've played in some pretty big games. I've been at Clemson, been at Georgia Tech, Florida State last year. But I figure Virginia Tech is different from all of them.

"You know me; I like big games. Am I nervous? Sure, I'm a little bit nervous," Turner said. "It's a big game and hopefully that wears off when we get a couple drives behind us."

Both teams have been off since Oct. 25. Maryland won two straight before the break, and Friedgen can only hope his team's momentum hasn't waned.

"You don't know," he said. "I'll tell you Friday."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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