It's not exactly like the brothers from Gettysburg, Pa., who fought against each other in the Civil War, but the boundaries become blurred any time the University of Maryland and Penn State play each other.

Maryland would find it difficult to field a team without players from Pennsylvania. Penn State wouldn't have a starting backfield without players from Maryland and Virginia.

In all, 26 players on the original Maryland roster are from Pennsylvania, and nine of Penn State's players are from Maryland or Virginia.

In fact, Penn State's cocaptain, senior linebacker Rogers Alexander, grew up so close to the University of Maryland, in Riverdale, he could walk from home to Byrd Stadium in five minutes.

And Maryland's cocaptains, linebacker Scott Schankweiler and offensive lineman Len Lynch, are Pennsylvanians.

By the time Maryland and Penn State take the field in jammed Byrd Stadium on Saturday afternoon, most of Alexander's 70 or so backers will be in their seats, as will the more than 100 people driving from Pennsyvania to see Schankweiler.

"It's really ironic that both teams have such strong roots in the others' state," Maryland receiver Sean Sullivan, from Media, Pa., said yesterday. "It makes the game even more interesting."

He wasn't really recruited by Penn State, other than receiving the obligatory early-season letters and a phone call or two from an assistant coach.

That's the way it was for most Maryland players from Pennsylvania. "Most of us here didn't get recruited by Penn State," Sullivan said. "But I don't really think about it any more.

"I literally grew up with Penn State football. I'm a fan of Penn State, really. I still am, except when we're playing them. I have a lot of real close friends there. I even make a few trips up there every year."

It bothers Lynch a bit more. One of the reasons he wants so badly to win on Saturday -- besides the fact that Penn State has beaten Maryland 20 straight and 27 out of 28 -- "is that when I was being recruited, Penn State said I wasn't good enough to play for them."

Alexander, who has continued Penn State's tradition of having superb linebackers, was judged to be good enough to play almost anywhere.

Maryland recruited him heavily. In fact, Coach Bobby Ross said recently that there are about 27 players on the Penn State roster that he and his staff recruited seriously.

"I grew up with Maryland football," Alexander said recently. "I'm more than just familiar with it. I remember the games with Randy White, Steve Atkins and those guys.

"A whole lot of my friends go there. I mean a lot of them. But I just wanted to be in a different environment for college. I know so many people at Maryland, it's just great to play at home."

Alexander isn't the only Nittany Lion happy to be returning home or close to home.

Duffy Cobbs, a defensive back, is from Alexandria and Groveton High School; Troy Cromwell, a wide receiver, is from Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro; Dwayne Downing, another cornerback, is from Chesapeake, Va.; D.J. Dozier, Penn State's top running back, is from Virginia Beach and runs behind his former high school teammate, guard Merlin Swartzentruber.

Steve Smith, the fullback who teams with Dozier in the backfield, went to DeMatha and grew up in Clinton. "I wanted him to come here really bad," Maryland punter Darryl Wright, also from DeMatha, said. "But it's a really good program and I could understand why he went."

Sullivan recalled a Penn State-Maryland game in 1982, when every one ofMaryland's starting offensive linemen were from Pennsylvania: Dave Pacella, Vince Tommasetti, Shawn Benson, Harry Venezia and Ron Solt.

Sullivan also recalled that Russell Davis, also from Pennsylvania, caught touchdown passes of 50 and 60 yards as Maryland nearly surprised the Lions in Bobby Ross' first game as Terrapins coach.

Even this year, Maryland's quarterback, Stan Gelbaugh (Carlisle), right guard Jeff Holinka (Pottstown), left guard Lynch (Levittown), linebacker Schankweiler (Camp Hill) and Sullivan are from across the border.

Gib Romaine, Maryland's defensive coordinator, has recruited in Pennsylvania for more than a decade. He said it's difficult to tell what influences a youngster; whether a victory over Penn State this year would stop the flow of youngsters to University Park, Pa., or enable Maryland to get a few top-notch Pennsyvanians away from Penn State.

Sullivan thought about all the words that are thrown about when the two teams play each other, but the words usually don't come from the players, he said.

"There's not a lot of mudslinging," he said. "You're talking about a lot of players who have grown up liking and even following the other program. Nobody talks about it much, but I think there's a lot of mutual respect."