Minutes after Virginia had recorded one of the biggest football victories in its history -- 27-7 at West Virginia -- the Cavaliers began thinking about the future.

It was obvious what was on the mind of offensive guard Bob Olderman when he asked a question most of the Cavaliers cared about deeply: "What did Maryland do?"

Maryland won, beating North Carolina, 34-23, in Chapel Hill and reduced its magic number in the ACC to one. If Virginia loses either to North Carolina State or at North Carolina, Maryland would win its second consecutive ACC title and make the Nov. 24 game between Virginia and Maryland moot in terms of the conference race.

Maryland (5-3 overall, 4-0 in the ACC) leads Virginia (6-1-1, 2-0-1).

Navy threatened to give this area's Division I-A teams a sweep of important games Saturday. But not only did Navy lose to Notre Dame, 18-7, on a controversial field goal, but the Midshipmen received more bad news yesterday.

Quarterback Bill Byrne, who already has a school-record 11 touchdown passes this season, will miss next week's game at Syracuse with a sprained ankle. Punter Mark Colby also will be out because of a sprained ankle, as will tight end Mark Stevens with an injury to his kneecap that will be further evaluated today.

Bob Misch, who alternated with Byrne the first six weeks, will apparently be Navy's starter.

But he and Coach Gary Tranquill will have to go against one of the best defenses in the nation without Napoleon McCallum, Byrne (who needs only 112 yards for a school passing record) and Stevens, the team's leading receiver.

Eric Wallace, the team's best defensive back, may return from his hamstring injury.

Former Navy coach George Welsh is making big news at Virginia. West Virginia, which had beaten Boston College and Penn State, was blown away by Virginia, especially by the Cavaliers' offensive line.

Welsh acknowledged that his team did reach one goal Saturday: being assured of a winning season.

"We have to raise our expectations now," Welsh said. "But we still don't want to talk about bowls or anything like that."

North Carolina Coach Dick Crum said last week that "Maryland-Virginia should be the league's game of impact this season."

And Maryland Coach Bobby Ross said yesterday, "There's a strong likelihood it could come down to that game. I haven't concentrated on Virginia because that's three games away, but I know George has done a fantastic job there. I wasn't that surprised at what they did at West Virginia."

Some of the Virginia players couldn't help letting their minds wander back to ACC matters.

As Cavalier safety Lester Lyles said, "Beating (West Virginia) felt good, but near the end of the game I started thinking about what's next. We've got three league games, against N.C. State, Carolina and Maryland."

The Terrapins play nonconference games against Miami Saturday and Clemson (on probation) Nov. 17 before facing Virginia on Nov. 24 in Charlottesville.

The Terrapins beat Carolina for the third straight year. One of the things Maryland did best was convert third down plays (nine of 15). One of the key players contributing to that statistic was tight end Ferrell Edmunds, who made at least one outstanding catch on third down, and several outstanding blocks.

Navy's outstanding plays were overshadowed by Notre Dame's 44-yard, game-winning field goal.

Tranquill couldn't check the clock on film, but said he was sure the 25-second clock ran out before the kick. "The film doesn't reveal the clock, but I know what I saw," he said. "Their holder even said he knew it."

Now, Tranquill said, he just wants his players to forget about the game and think about Syracuse. "And that's often hard to do," he said.