North Carolina tailback Kelvin Bryant, the nation's leading scorer, will probably miss the rest of the season after having surgery yesterday to repair cartilage damage suffernd in his left knee Saturday.

Bryant, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior, had scored 15 touchdowns in three games going into the game against Georgia Tech. He was the nation's third-leading rusher with 520 yards, but carried only five times for 46 yards before injuring his knee.

"I don't want to rule out the possibility of him playing again this season. However, at this time, I think the chances of him returning this year are unlikely," said Dr. Timothy Taft, the team surgeon. Bryant also sprained ligaments in the same knee.

"Certainly we're going to miss a player of Kelvin Bryant's caliber," North Carolina Coach Dick Crum said. "However, we've got some good young players in Tyrone Anthony and Bobby Ratliff."

MARYLAND: The surprising thing about Maryland's 17-17 tie with Syracuse Saturday was that it took the Orangemen so long to recognize and exploit the Terps' glaring weakness -- a porous pass defense.

After giving up 250 yards and two touchdowns passing to Syracuse, the Maryland defense has allowed 842 yards and five touchdowns passing. Vanderbilt and West Virginia also passed for more than 250 yards against the Terrapins. Maryland held the lead in the fourth quarter of each of its two defeats and the tie included in its 1-2-1 record.

"We threw all the mistakes you could think of into the last nine minutes," Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne said after studying films of the game. "We played about as poor as we can play. The defensive secondary must take the brunt of the blame."

With his team trailing, 17-3, with only nine minutes remaining, Syracuse quarterback Dave Warner, a running quarterback on a run-oriented team, began staying in the pocket longer to look for his receivers. He completed nine of his next 10 passes, including the 10-yard touchdown to Willie Sydnor and the game-tying two-point conversion to Marty Chalk with 16 seconds left.

Sydnor slid behind right cornerback Lendell Jones and in front of left cornerback Dave Taylor for his reception. And the closest person to Chalk was the Syracuse band leader.

Asked who was primarily responsible for covering Sydnor and Chalk, Claiborne replied, "I don't ever want to criticize a player publicly. But the guy who had Chalk (a tight end) had poor technique. He played the run instead of the pass." Claiborne was quick to take responsibility for the fourth-quarter defensive mistakes.

"We gotta do a better job of coaching," he said. When asked how the coaches will help players finish tackles, Claiborne said, "We have to make them make the tackles. Mainly, it's the technique. They (the defensive backs) play it right one time and don't the next time.

"On the fourth-down play (a 20-yard pass completion that continued the game-tying drive) we had Paul Zambuto covered, but our man fell down," said Claiborne. "We ought to be able to stand up."

Also, the Maryland defensive linemen missed several opportunities to sack Warner in the two touchdown drives. "Their pass protection wasn't that good," said tackle Gurnest Brown. "We missed several tackles; I did it twice. That stuff adds up big, I'm telling you."

It all adds up to opposing teams passing the Terps silly. Their only victory (34-9 over N.C. State) came against a team that refused to pass the ball, even after it fell far behind. Maryland's next opponent, Florida, is pass-oriented and capable of dismantling an experienced, confident secondary.

HOWARD: The only bright spot Howard Coach Floyd Keith may have found in Saturday's 31-7 loss to Florida A & M was the play of sophomore quarterback Sandy Nichols. Nichols, who was third string two weeks ago, completed 13 of 22 passes for 214 yards after entering the game late in the first quarter. He threw a seven-yard yard pass to tight end Derek Lloyd for the Bison's only score.

"I was pleased with Sandy's performance," said Keith, who would not say if Nichols had earned the starting job. "I can only say the offense moved when he was in there."

If Nichols replaces senior Raymond Gray, the Bison would be starting only five seniors.

VIRGINIA: Add Coach Dick Bestwick to winless Virginia's expansive injury list. On the sixth play of Virginia's 30-24 loss to N.C. State, Bestwick got caught in a sideline tackle and suffered ligament damage in his knee. "It's going to be put in a cast (today)," Bestwick said. "I'll do anything to keep from having it cut (operated) on.

"In all my years of playing football, basketball and baseball I never injured a knee," Bestwick said. "But it's been that kind of year for us."

Virginia's entire starting backfield is out with injuries and 10 of 22 starters missed all or part of Saturday's game. "The frustrating thing," said Bestwick, "is that we aren't a scrimmaging team. We haven't had real contact in practice since 10 days before the first game."

The Cavaliers (0-4) face undefeated Clemson next week. "We'll knock off somebody before it's over," Bestwick said. "Maybe a couple of people."

NAVY: Navy, which was upset by Yale, 23-19, is also hurting. Three of the team's best four linebackers are injured. Kris Hauer had knee surgery yesterday and is probably out for the season. He was playing in place of Ken Fancher, who will probably miss another week with a pinched nerve in his neck. Carl Wagner is also out with a pinched nerve. Coach George Welsh said he hopes running backs Eddie Meyers (thigh) and Napoleon McCallum (hip) can recover from bruises before midweek.

NATIONAL GAMES: In a late-night upset, Arizona State got four field goals from freshman Luis Zendejas to defeat 12th-ranked Washington, 26-7, in a Pac-10 game in Seattle. Also on the West Coast, USC's Marcus Allen broke two NCAA records with 233 yards rushing as the top-ranked Trojans beat Oregon State. Allen became the first collegiate player to rush for more than 200 yards four straight games. His 925 yards broke the four-game record of 920 set by Oklahoma's Greg Pruitt in 1971.