More than 2,500 temporary seats have been set up in Byrd Stadium near the end zone and press box for Saturday Atlantic Coast Conference title clash between Clemson and Maryland, both 5-0 in league play.
Maryland officials said they expect a crowd of 50,000, which would be the third largest in the stadium's history, after the Penn state crowd of 58,973 in 1975 and the Alabama crowd of 54,412 in 1974.
The winner will probably receive a bid to either the Gator, Liberty or Fiesta bowl, but other bids are possible, depending on the outcome of several key games. There were rumors on campus yesterday that the winner may be invited to the Orange Bowl if Penn State declines to play there, which appears unlikely unless Nebraska loses to Missouri.
Clemson is bringing in not only the ACC's leading team in total offense and total defense, but also 3,094 of the league's most vocal fans. At least six planes have been chartered from airports in Columbia, Greenville, Charlotte and Atlanta.
"They're coming out of the cracks this year," said Bob Bradley, Clemson sports information director, "I've never seen anything like it."
Several Maryland seniors will be approaching or adding to school records in a game that matches the conference's top quarterbacks, Maryland's Tim O'Hara and Clemson's Steve Fuller.
O'Hare voted AAC back of the week for his 102 yards rushing, 222 yards passing against Virginia, feels personally challenged by Fuller, circling this and a few other games on his calender before the season began. O'Hare leads the ACC in pass attempts (176), completions per game (9.6) and in interceptions (11).
Fuller is right behind O'Hare. He currently has 80 completions in 145 attempts for 1,134 yards, averaging 8.9 completions per game. He's thrown four interceptions.
The best percentage passer in the ACC is North Carolina's Matt Kupec at .568 with 50 of 88.
With a fine passing day, O'Hare could set some records, or at least move up on the list.He is currently sixth on the all-time Maryland season total-offense list with 1,325 yards. Bob Avellini leads with 1,689, followed by Mark Manges at 1,393; Dick Shiner with 1,426, Alan Pastrana with 1,395 and Jack Scarbath with 1,385.
O'Hare is fifth on the all-time season passing list 1,305 yards, trailing Avellini (1,648), Pastrana (1,499), Larry Dick (1,351) and Shiner (1,324).
Maryland field goal kicker Ed Loncar last week tied Steve Mike-Mayer's 1974 school record of 15 field goals in one season and he has set his sights on breaking the record against Clemson.
Tailback Steve Atkins has averaged only 2.8 yards a carry in the last three games and the offense has staggered with him. But he has a chance to fatten several records in his last appearance in Byrd Stadium. He holds the Terrapin marks for most yards rushing in a career (2,774), most touchdowns in a career (31), most yards rushing in a season (1,064), most carries in a season (255) and most carries in a career (597).
Atkins has recently undergone blood tests, which are negative, and has looked strangely sluggish. But Tom Groom, running backs coach, said yesterday, "I promise you he'll be right. He's been talked about and written about for four years, and it all ended right here."
"We'll surprise some people."
Senior split end Dean Richards is currently fifth on the Maryland season pass-reception list with 531 yards. He needs only two yards to pass Kim Hoover or six yards to move up to third, dislodging Billy Van Heusen. Lloyd Colteryahn leads with 593 yards in 1952, followed by Tom Brown with 557 in 1966.
Richards is third in career yards on receptions with 1,150, needing 33 to pass Collins and 196 to take the lead from Frank Russell.
Defensive guard Bruce palmer has a record 13 quarterback sacks, and Charles Johnson is tied with Randy White for second with 12. Another guard, junior Marlin Van Horn, has 11.
Senior linebacker Nel Olkewicz has 170 tackles this season and needs four to move into second place ahead of Harry Walters. Ted Klaube's 186 last year is still the record, one Qlkewicz set out to break this year.
Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne yesterday praised his defense, and Richards and Loncar, while fretting about the offense's inability, to convert short third-down situations.