Looking at Atlantic Coast Conference statistics. Maryland coach Jerry Claiborne can be forgiven if he becomes nostalgic.

There is something warmly familiar about North Carolina, the Terp's opponent Saturday.

North Carolina has butted into the top notches of the categories Maryland led last year - total defense, rushing defense, pass defense, scoring defense.

The Tar Heels, unbeaten in the ACC at 2-0, battle 3-1 Maryland at Byrd Stadium on Saturday.

Carolina has been one of the better teams in the league since I've been in it," he said. "They're just a real good, sound football team. One of the best in our conference. One of the best in the country."

The Tar Heels have surrendered only 231 yards per game, 141 on the ground, and only 6.3 points - all tops in the ACC. Carolina's been no slouch against the pass either, giving up 90 yards a game, second only to N.C. State.

The game could provide a classic confrontation of strength against strength as Maryland's offense has began popping behind the direction of quarterback Larry Dick and the running of tailback Stave Atkins.

The Terps will be without offensive lineman Richard Cummins, who discovered after Saturday's victory over Duke that he had strained ligaments in his knee. Larry Seder, who has alternated with Bruce Palmer at defensive guard, also will skip the game with a sprained ankle.

Defensive tackle Ernie Salley slightly injured a knee but may play briefly.

"There is a little more pressure on us," said Claiborne, "because we have a loss."

Maryland is tied for second place in the ACC with Clemson and has conference games left against North Carolina and Virginia. Clemson meets Wake Forest on Saturday, then North Carolina.

After Maryland, North Carolina plays conference games against Clemson and Virginia.

"I think it wil come down to the last game of the season." Claiborne said. "But this game is what college football is all about, what it ought to be.

"North Carolina went 9-2 last year: we went 11-0 and didn't play them. There are a whole lot of things wrapped up in this."

Steve Atkins has been named ACC offensive back of the week for his 116-yard, three-touhdown performance against Duke . . .Dick is completing 64 per cent of his passes and 9.3 passes a game, both best in the ACC . . . UNC quarterback Matt Kupec is hitting 58 per cent.