Maryland's Jerry Claiborne and Virginia's Dick Bestwick had something in common yesterday. Each was basking in the afterglow of one of his most satisfying victories.

For Claiborne, the Terrapins's 17-14 win over North Carolina was -- at least in part -- a vindication of his coaching philosophy: Don't change what has worked in the past, even if it appears to be failing.

For Bestwick, the Cavaliers' stunning 31-0 rout of Georgia represented proof that he meant what he said when he arrived in Charlottesville four years ago, insisting Virginia could play big-time football.

Claiborne, whose 5-4 team still is hoping for a Bowl bid (The Hall of Fame Garden State and Holiday appear to be the best hopes) clearly was drawined at the end of the Terps' emotional win.

"Sure, I was emotional. I wanted to win," he said when asked if the game had been as emotional for him as it was for the player.

But then, just for a moment, Claiborne dropped the "all-wins-are-the-same" facade.

"It was a special win," he said. "It proves that if you believe in your players no matter what, just stick with them, win or lose, and keep working hard, things work out. We never gave up on our players and they never gave up on themselves."

Claiborne said he blamed himself at least in part, for the Terrapins' four-game losing streak. "When we started having the injuries, I let up in practice, I didn't schedule as much full-speed work as I usually do.

"We lost some of our aggressiveness because of that and it hurt us in games. Two weeks ago I apologized to our team for that. I told them we had to go back to going all out in practice and not worry about the injuries."

One group that went all out Saturday, playing by far its best game of the year, was the offensive line. "You want to know why I played better?" asked quarterback Mike Tice. "Check the offensive line. Look at the time they gave me, Kervin Wyatt, Larry Stewart, Paul Glamp, Phil Livingston, Chris Grey (after Kyle Lorton bruised a knee) Scott Collins. They're all seniors and they wanted this one bad."

Tice was not the only local quarterback to shine Saturday. Virginia sophormore Todd Kirtley, a 1978 Robinson High School graduate, played his best game, completing 13 of 21 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns, to lead Virginia's romp.

"Todd's played well most of the season but yesterday we gave him the chance to do more things," Bestwick said. "We thought we could do some things with our passing game, and we did."

Virginia did anything it wanted in raising its record to 5-3. The Cavaliers also gave Bestwick what must be considered a milestone victory in his four-year tenure -- a win on the road against a Southeast Conference team. Georgia is 4-0 in the SEC and could end up in the Sugar Bowl.

Navy Coach George Welsh, while disappointed with his team's 14-0 loss at Notre Dame, said, "I'm not disappointed with our team.

"We did get shut down again in the second half but we used a lot of people. I don't want to get to the end of the season and just have our players collapse from exhaustion. We played a lot of people, which will have to help in the long run."

If Mike Sherlock returns at tailback next week, Welsh will be very deep there. Saturday, when Duane Flowers went out after having his bell rung, fourth-stringer Ed Meyers, a sophomore, came in and picked up 99 yards on 17 carries.

The Mids are 6-2 but should be favored in their final three games against Syracuse, Georgia Tech and Army, especially if eight starters who missed the Notre Dame game can trickle back into the lineup.

Alabama extended the nation's longest winning streak to 17 with its win over Mississippi State. Air Force finally snapped its losing skein at 11 with its win over Army. . . Yale, 7-0 this season, has won 10 straight and become the first college ever to win 700 games with its 23/20 win over Cornell.

The Bowl picture: Rose -- Southern California still has the inside track, with Washington and Stanford pursuing to take on the Ohio State-Michigan winner. Sugar -- To the horror of ABC-TV, 4-4 Georgia would go with two more conference wins by virtue of not playing Alabama and tying with the Tide for the conference title. Notre Dame, or the runner-up from the Big Ten, Big Eight or Southwest Conference is the likely opponent. Orange -- This bowl could luck out with a national championship game if Georgia gets the Sugar. The Orange then will get Alabama and the winner of the Nebraska-Oklahoma game. If it is Nebraska, that sets up No. 1 against No. 2. Cotton -- Probably will get Florida State and Houston, unless Texas upsets Houston Saturday and Arkansas gets in.

ACC bowl situation: Clouded. The Tangerine is very interested in North Carolina (5-2-1) and Clemson and probably will take the winner of their game Saturday. North Carolina State, now 6-3, has Penn State and Duke remaining. A 7-4 mark probably will get the Pack into the Peach Bowl. Wake Forrest (7-2) still is in the running for the Liberty, Tangerine and Peach. Maryland and Virginia are possibles if they win their remaining games.