Sen. John Heinz (R-Pa.) has bet one ton of anthracite coal on Penn State and Sen. Charles Mathias (R-Md.) has wagered a bushel of Chesapeake Bay crabs on Maryland.

But when the unbeaten rival football teams meet today before a sellout crowd of more than 77,000 and a national television audience (12:45 p.m., WJVA-TV-7), what really may be at stake are watches and oranges.

National championship watches, and Orange Bowl oranges.

The winner of today's game probably will be invited to the Orange Bowl, where it appears likely that currently unbeaten Oklahoma will take on a challenger for a clearcut national title.

Today's game - with so many potential rewards up for grabs - will make the afternoon even more electrifying than it normally is when all that is at stake are a ton of pride and a bushel of bragging rights.

Penn State, holding the longest winning streak among major colleges, has not been beaten in 16 games, while Maryland has won 12 straight over two seasons. The only other undefeated (Division 1-A) teams in the country are Oklahoma and Navy.

Fifth-ranked Maryland is the 6 1/2-point underdog, but it pinning its hopes on the butterfly bombs of Cinderella quarterback Tim O'Hare.

In 23 games, Maryland has beaten Penn State only once, in 1961, and the Terps have not won a national title since 1953.

But in this most illogical of Maryland seasons, O'Hare has emerged from a four-year tenure on the bench to lead Maryland, lightly regarded before the season, to 8-0 record. O'Hare pales in comparison to Penn State's prolific passer, Chuck (1433 yards) Fusina, and it all just seems to feed O'Hare's fire.

"We can do it," O'Hare said.

The nonbelievers point to last year's game when the Terps rushed for just 57 yards against Penn State, and they look at Penn State's astounding statistics this year: No. 2 national ranking, first in the nation against the rush (allowing 56.1 yards a game) and third in the nation in total defense.

Maryland's defense is comparable to State's, to a fraction of a yard. State gives up an average of 218.2 yards a game; Maryland 218.7. The Terps, coming off two straight shutouts, are giving up 7.9 points a game, Penn State 9.2.

Facing their toughest test so far, both teams should be playing with emotion.

Both have offensive stars gunning for milestones.

Maryland tailback Steve Atkins, already his school's leading rusher and touchdown producer, can add the single-season rushing record to his collection if he gains 37 yards to break Louis Carter's four-year-old mark of 991.

Fusina, in quest of the Heisman Trophy, needs just 44 yards to reach the 5,000-yard pinnacle in total offense. He already holds or shares 15 Penn State passing and total offense records.

O'Hare, while pursuing his first varsity letter, needs to come up with some Fusina-like passing today if the Terps hope to win the biggest game of Coach Jerry Claiborne's seven-year reign. No team has had any success running against the Nittany Lions. The gains, which have been few, come in the air.

All that is fine with the calm O'Hare.

"I love to pass," he said.

"Maryland is just going to come out after us," said Penn State defensive tackle Matt Millen, who will be going after O'Hare. Penn State has 34 sacks. "There's no reason to expect them to change anything for us."

"We're putting all the money in the bag for this game," said Fusina. "We've got to keep working towards our goal - a national championship. Playing well in this game means that."

"This is the point in the year where we've got to prove how good we are," said Penn State Coach Joe Paterno. "It's great that we have Maryland this week. It gives us the kind of challenge we absolutely need."

Penn State's schedule so far probably has been less demanding than Maryland's. They two teams have two common opponents: Kentucky, which lost 30,0, to Penn State, and 203 to Maryland, and Syracuse, which lost 45-15, to Penn State and 24-9 to Maryland.

Penn State also has victories over Temple (10-7), Rutgers (26-10), Ohio State (19-0), Southern Methodist (26-21), Texas Christian (58-0) and West Virginia (49-21).

Maryland's other wins were over Tulane (31-7), Louisville (24-17), North Caroline (21-20), North Carolina State (31-7), Wake Forest (39-0) and Duke (27-0).

Maryland's offense has had to rely the last two games on the defense and kick returners to set up its scoring, and hasn't had a scoring march of more than 55 yards in more than two games.

Penn State students and supporters are so confident that a headline on a school newspaper editorial read: "Humdrum Fans Better Wake Up."

"I don't know if they're taking us as seriously as we're taking them," said Maryland strong guard Kervin Wyatt. "They know we always lose to them. We're anxious to get rid of that little policy."

The Terrapins will be hampered by the absence of starting senior fullback Mickey Dudish, who probably will sit out the game with a badly sprained ankle. Sophomore Rick Fasano, a third-stringer, will make his second start as backup Steve Koziol is still nursing a hamstring pull.

The Terps also will have to start John Baldante at safety in place of Ralph Lary, who has a sprained ankle. Coaches will determine at game time how much Larry will play, if at all. Baldante played well last week against Duke.