Maryland hopes to know today whether quarterback Norman (Boomer) Esiason will be able to play against Tulane Saturday night, Coach Jerry Claiborne said yesterday.

Esiason was carried from the field in an ambulance after suffering a jammed neck in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 17-10 loss to North Carolina. He "is all right now," according to Claiborne.

Esiason was treated and released from Washington Adventist Hospital Saturday night and was at Sunday's regular team meeting.

"He came over last night to the dressing room to get his clothes," Claiborne said. "I came over with the key to let him in and he seemed all right."

Maryland's loss at Byrd Stadium ended with a controversial play. On a second-and-10 play from the UNC 15 with 15 seconds remaining, reserve quarterback Bob Milkovich passed to receiver Alan Sadler, who appeared to be tripped by Carolina cornerback Greg Poole as the pass fell incomplete. Interference was not called, and Milkovich was intercepted on the next play.

After reviewing the play on film yesterday, Claiborne said it looked as if Sadler's feet made contact with the feet of the Tar Heel defender. "We had to stop the film to get a real close look at it," Claiborne said. "It was a little harder call to make than we originally thought. Anytime you make contact with another player's foot, it's a hard call."

NAVY: The star of Notre Dame's 38-0 victory over Navy Saturday was 5-foot-9 freshman split end Joe Howard, a former Archbishop Carroll High School football and basketball star. Howard caught a 52-yard touchdown pass and scored on a 15-yard reverse.

Howard had signed an ACC letter of intent to attend North Carolina. But on Feb. 1, Irish Coach Gerry Faust sent an assistant here to sign Howard.

"We debated over Howard," Faust said. "We told him that because of his size, we wouldn't be able to make a decision on him until the last minute. And we waited until the last minute of the last day."

Notre Dame recruited Howard as a defensive back, but moved him to wingback early in the season. He was moved to split end on Monday because Faust wanted more speed at his outside receiver spots.

Virginia: The Cavaliers finally ended their two-year, 10-game losing streak with a 13-10 victory over previously undefeated Virginia Military. But Coach Dick Bestwick was not entirely happy. "We probably should have scored a lot more points," said Bestwick. "But I feel good about the rest of the year, next year and the rest of my life."

NATIONAL: Northwestern (0-8) wasn't so fortunate. The Wildcats tied a Division I-A record by losing their 28th straight game with Saturday's 52-0 defeat to Big Ten opponent Wisconsin. First-year Wildcat Coach Dennis Green was irritated yesterday morning, not only about the loss but because he said he was misquoted after the game.

The Associated Press quoted Green as saying, "I'm embarassed about it (the score) because my name is associated with Northwestern."

"I said the losing streak is embarassing to anybody associated with Northwestern," Green maintained yesterday.

The University of Hawaii (6-0) is one of only six unbeaten teams in the nation. Anthony Edgar and David Tomoulu rushed for 117 yards and 118 yards, respectively, to lead the Rainbows to a 57-21 Western Athletic Conference victory over Nevada-Las Vegas in Honolulu. Hawaii withstood 439 yards passing from UNLV quarterback Sam King.

Hawaii, hoping to break into the top 20, is now in first place in the WAC and has the best chance for a bid to the Holiday Bowl.

For the first time in the history of Associated Press polling, there will be a sixth No. 1 team this season, following Penn State's 17-14 loss to Miami. The new top-ranked team will probably be Pittsburgh, which beat Boston College, 29-24. But Clemson, an 82-24 winner over Wake Forest, probably will also get some votes for the top position. Clemson set an ACC record for points scored in a game.