The eyes of Texas are looking down upon Maryland.
"They're sort of looking down their noses at us." said Maryland quarterback Tim O'Hare, who will make his final collegiate start against the favored Longhorns in Saturday's Sun Bowl (1:30 EST, WDVM-TV-9).
"I've read that they think all we have is Steve Atkins, and that Texas can handle him. "Texas Too Much for Terps,' one newspaper headline said.
"I think that's the general feeling in Texas. Maybe the Texas players don't all necessarily feel that way, but I don't care who it is, I'm mad about it, frankly."
O'Hare was at his underdog best in fuming over the presicted misfortune of the Terrapins, six-point underdogs in the nationally televised contest. Many of the 19 maryland seniors view the game as an opportunity to undo the hard done their image in the televised 27-3 loss to Penn State.
It was the most embarrassing display of the Jerry Claiborne coaching era, and still very much on the minds of the team.
"That loss hurt so much becaust it was our only game on national TV," said senior split end Dean Richards. "I don't think Maryland's program gets the respect it deserves. That Penn State game made our critics feel like they know what they're talking about. But we'll get another chance against Texas."
Maryland has not won a national TV game since 1976.
"That's because we're always playing Penn State on national television," O'Hare said, smiling only a little.
"Now we're going up against a team as prestigious as Texas, and once again we're underdogs," said O'Hare. "I feel just like I did at the beginning of the season, when everyone counted us out. So maybe we'll surprise people.
"I have more motivation for this game than any of the others I've played in. I think we've proved something this year to the people around Maryland, but there's something I have to prove to the rest of the country.
"I would like to attract some attention (from the pro scouts) and if we could have a good game against Texas that could really mean something. This is my last hurrah, and I'd like to go out in style.
"When I read that all Maryland has is Steve Atkins, I get the message-no talent at quarterback. Frankly, I'm not all that impressed withe the quarterbacks in the Southwest Conference (of which Texas is a member) except for Mike Ford from SMU.
"At least Penn State had respect for us. This feeling I get from Texas really gets to me. They've bought up all the tickets ( the 32,000-seat stadium sold out within hours when it was rumored Texas would be invited). "It's sort of like an ambush. It'll be us 55 against the rest of the place. They wouldn't even let our band on tdhe field."
The Longhorn band will provide halftime entertainment, by invitation of the Sun Bowl. Since Maryland's band would be able to perform for only two minutes at halftime, the travel expenditure was considered unreasonable. The band stayed home and only approximately 1,000 Maryland boosters are expected to attend.
It is Maryland's sixth straight bowl appearance and caps a 9-2 regular season. The Terrapins lost to Penn State and Atlantic Coast Conference chamipn Clemson, both nationally ranked.
The Longhorns have been four bowls since 1973 and lost in three, including last year's national championship game against Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. Texas was 8-3 this year, finishing in a tie for second place in the SWC with a stron defense and an offense that shuffled quarterbacks and passed infrequently.
The ground attack was consistent
Physically it should be a pretty even matchup between defense-dominated teams. Emotionally, it will be a battle between the haves and havenated teams. Emotionally, it will be a nots. Here the scale tilts toward Texas.
Maryland has never enjoyed the status accorded Texas, national champion in 1963, 1969 and 1970. The Longhorns won 30 straight from 1968 through 1970. A major difficulty for the Terrapins may be in convincing themselves they can play with a team like Texas in Texas.
O'Hare points out that Maryland has been a team driven by the need to prove itself. He hopes the have-not status will help more that hinder.