Nearly everywhere the Maryland coaches look, they see matchups that favor sixth-ranked Miami. They see quarterback Bernie Kosar, who has become so good as a sophomore that he dares defenses to guess what he'll do next.

The Terrapins' coaches see Kosar throwing to Eddie Brown, who has 47 catches this season, and to Stanley Shakespeare, who has 37, and to tight end Willie Smith, who has 50.

They also see fullback Alonzo Highsmith, who has rushed for 100 yards or more five times this season.

By Saturday afternoon at 12:15, when Maryland plays defending national champion Miami in the Orange Bowl, the Maryland staff hopes to see a way to defend against it all.

Not many teams have figured that out over the past two years, and none has in the last five weeks.

The Terrapins (5-3) have won three straight games, and could stay in the race for a mid-level bowl bid with an upset here.

There are bigger prizes at stake for Miami. As Maryland Coach Bobby Ross observed earlier this week: "They still think they have a chance to win the national championship. They win this game Saturday and it's a New Year's Day bowl for them."

The Hurricanes, however, cannot afford to be too cocky. Although Ross was candid in saying, "One-on-one matchups worry me," Miami hasn't had a worry-free week.

The theory is that Miami can be beaten deep. Surprisingly, not too many people have tried. But Ross strongly indicated that Maryland will try throwing deep, and a whole lot more.

"We're gonna come out shooting," Ross said today before the Terrapins left College Park. "You can't line up and just run against Miami. We're not gonna go conservative. We're gonna shoot the works, get the whole offense into the game if we can."

Miami Coach Jimmy Johnson, whose team hasn't lost since a 38-3 defeat by Florida State Sept. 22, says Maryland's offense is the most diverse his team will have seen.

Johnson hinted at another defensive problem when he said, "We are not a big, strong football team. We've tried to rely on some quickness and some talent at the skilled positions."

When you talk about skilled position players at Miami, you begin with Kosar, the 6-foot-5 sophomore who embarrasses defenses by outsmarting them.

Kosar was asked earlier this week about Maryland's wide-tackle-six defense, which traditionally puts eight men on the line of scrimmage, leaving only three deep backs.

"It's like they're trying to invite you to throw the ball," Kosar said. "We'll see; it'll be interesting."

Greg Williams, Maryland's coach for the secondary, said Saturday's game will be the toughest assignment his defensive backs have had in his three years at Maryland with Ross.

"And the tough thing is," Williams said, "is that you can't do that much more in a week than you've been doing (as a coach) because that will lead to the players being confused. But you can't go out there doing exactly what he's been seeing on film all week long.

"The toughest thing about Kosar is his two wideouts. If they ran 4.9 (seconds in the 40-yard dash), there would be a lot of things he couldn't do that he's doing now. And if they had just one 4.5 guy, we'd make them wear the guy out. But with two, they balance you up. And they like to run at you for 20 yards. They make the defensive backs think they're running deep routes, then they cut across the middle. And he (Kosar) throws a 40-yard pass like most people throw a 12."

And, if Maryland goes to a three-man defensive front, Miami can counter with Highsmith, who has nearly 900 yards rushing this season. "They have it all," Williams said. "Good size, speed, and seniors."

Maryland would like to control the ball and keep Kosar off the field. And Johnson, in his first year at Miami, is aware of how potent Maryland's offense has become, particularly in the last few weeks with junior Stan Gelbaugh at quarterback.

"You don't rush him," Johnson said. "You can't get to him (Gelbaugh hasn't been sacked this season). And he's completing a high percentage of passes (60.5)."

Maryland has its own trio of receiving threats now, actually a quartet, with Azizuddin Abdur-Ra'oof, Eric Holder, Greg Hill and tight end Ferrell Edmunds holding onto the ball after early season drops.

Maryland's defense would be helped if sophomore linebacker Chuck Faucette can play with his sprained ankle. Ross said he would go right up to game time before deciding whether Faucette will start. It's likely he will play. Richie Petitbon, the 6-3, 235-pound son of the Redskins' defensive coach, should also see action.

Maryland might have reason to celebrate even if it loses here. If North Carolina State can upset Virginia Saturday in Charlottesville, the Terrapins will win the Atlantic Coast Conference title.

But the Cavaliers, who lead the ACC in scoring defense, have allowed only 13.7 points per game in their last seven contests. N.C. State has the league's worst defense against the run, giving up 249 yards per game.

Virginia should be able to take advantage of that, with Howard Petty, Barry Word and Steve Morse ranking among the 12 leading rushers in the ACC.

If the Cavaliers, who have an unbeaten streak of seven games, can win their third straight, Virginia will probably be assured of its first-ever bowl bid.

Navy, which will meet Syracuse at the Carrier Dome at 1:30 Saturday, will be facing a team that is ninth in the nation in total defense and second nationally against the pass. The Midshipmen will be playing without record-setting quarterback Bill Byrne, who has a fractured ankle.

Howard, which hasn't won at home since 1982, will play host to Maine, which has won four of its last five.

Nationally, the Pacific-10 championship and a berth in the Rose Bowl will probably be decided in Los Angeles when top-ranked and undefeated Washington visits Southern California.

The Southeastern Conference race will get some clarification in Jacksonville in a game between rivals Georgia and Florida.

The Sugar Bowl opponent could very well be the winner of the Florida State-South Carolina game in Columbia, S.C.