For Maryland, this is the week of the 1980 football season. For Penn State, this is a week in the season.
For Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne, this is a week to remind his players of all the football cliches: that Penn State players use the same kind of equipment they do; that they have two arms and two legs like anyone else. And, that they can be beaten.
For Penn State Coach Joe Paterno, the cliches are different: the past is no measure of what the future will hold; anything can happen on a given Saturday; we have to be ready to win or we'll lose.
Twenty-four Penn State victories in 25 meetings with Maryland, Paterno's 14-0 record against the Terps and Claiborne's 0-7 mark against Paterno have created the coaches' need to throw the cliches around.
Claiborne must spend this week convincing his players they can beat Penn State. Paterno will spend the week convincing his players thay can lose to Maryland.
As with any Maryland-Penn State matchup, much of the attention focuses on the quarterbacks. Maryland's Mike Tice was recruited four years ago as "the quarterback who would beat Penn State."
This will be his last chance.
Penn State sophomore Todd Blackledge, red-shirted last year, will be Playing his fifth college game Saturday. Last week, against ninth-ranked Missouri, Blackledge was responsible for five consecutive turnovers in the first half. Then he came back to lead his team to a 29-21 win.
Tice on Penn State: "It's an important game but only because we've lost two in a row and we need a win.After losing two straight we'd be psyched up this week if we were getting ready to line up against Duke.
"They have embarrassed me in the past and I want to do well against them. But this game is important because it's the one after Pitt, no other reason."
Blackledge on Maryland: "Don't forget they've been beaten by two of the best teams in the country, both undefeated teams. They have a real strong defense and they could give us real problems if we don't go down there and play an intense ball game. We know that Maryland gets up to beat Penn State, but we also consider this one of the biggest games on our schedule.
"This is a very good rivalry."
This kid will make a fine coach someday.
Now, though, Blackledge is concentrating on becoming the kind of quarterback Penn State lacked last season when it "struggled" to an 8-4 record because of inconsistent quarterbacking.
Blackledge is 6 feet 4, 215 pounds and can throw the ball superbly. Paterno signed him out of North Canton, Ohio, winning the final round of recruiting over Michigan State.
"I sort of wanted to play for my father," Blackledge said. "I'd always kind of dreamed about it, but we decided in the end it wouldn't be the best thing for either one of us."
So Blackledge eliminated Kent State, where his father, Ron, is the head coach.
College did not begin well for Blackledge. He broke his hand during a preseason drill and was out the season. "It was really discouraging," Blackledge said. "I went home a lot and talked the thing out with my dad.
"Eventually, I realized I had to make being injured work for me. So I started doing a lot of work on my own and settled myself down. I think now the injury was a blessing in disguise because it made me work harder."
Blackledge started spring practice well but ran into an old problem halfway through; he tried too hard.
"It's an old habit of mine," Blackledge said. "I try to do too many things at once. I did that a lot in high school. I would worry about doing the next things and not get the first thing done. Then when I made a mistake I would worry about it and make another."
Now Paterno has chosen Blackledge as his quarterback, period. When Blackledge made his mistakes against Missouri he stuck with him. And Blackledge was able to put his mistakes behind him and rally his team.
Paterno, whose teams have outscored the Terps, 81-19, in their last three meeting, may have reached a new high -- or low -- in pregame opponent-boosting this week.