Call them what you will -- dreamers comes to mind -- but the Maryland Terrapins have said this week they think they can win the last six games of their season and take the Atlantic Coast Conference title.

"Sure it's realistic," nose guard and captain Bob Arnold said. "If we cut out our mistakes and play to our potential, I have no doubt we can win our last six games."

But, with a few exceptions, the Terrapins have not played to their potential and they are 2-3 and 1-1 in the ACC heading into today's 1 p.m. game against Wake Forest at Groves Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The Demon Deacons, however, probably have played above their potential and are 5-0 and 2-0. Skeptics had questioned their weak schedule (Richmond, Appalachian State), but Wake Forest silenced many last week when it beat North Carolina, 22-14, in Chapel Hill.

"I told some people earlier," Maryland Coach Joe Krivak said, "when did you think you'd be at the University of Maryland and the next big game would be against Wake Forest?"

The Demon Deacons are not flashy, but they have won in the style of Coach Bill Dooley, who arrived after nine years at Virginia Tech and 11 at North Carolina. In beating the Tar Heels, Dooley defeated the man who replaced him, Dick Crum.

"They're 5-0 and Coach Dooley is doing a hell of a coaching job," Krivak said. "They're playing well and they're not turning the ball over. They're doing a lot of little things on offense that are not overly complicated but they present a problem. {Quarterback Mike} Elkins has three or four good running backs that keep you honest. Defensively, I don't think it's a super-talented group. When you look at their defense, they're hustling to the ball, running to the ball. They're not making mistakes and they're not giving up the big play."

Bowl scouts -- normally an unidentified spying object at Groves Stadium -- will be on hand to see if the Demon Deacons are for real.

"I'm somewhat surprised they are 5-0," Krivak said. "But I heard {fullback Chip} Rives on ESPN the other day and he said people are excited about Wake Forest, they know who they are on the campus, students are saying complimentary things about the football players. All of those things help to generate the confidence and enthusiasm that helps them play well. And when you win, it's easier to win the next time. By the same token, when you lose, it's easier to lose the next time."

Krivak knows that, having lost two in a row by lopsided margins. The Terrapins, coming off a 46-16 defeat in Miami, will need a much more potent rushing offense than the 85 yards they had aginst the Hurricanes. To that end, Krivak is starting Mike Anderson at tailback, although Bren Lowery is expected to see a lot of action, and Krivak might use both.

Left tackle John Sorna, bothered by a sore foot, probably won't start. Joe Giuliano worked in Sorna's spot this week and probably will start. Inside linebacker Richie Petitbon, who severely sprained his ankle in the Sept. 26 loss to North Carolina State, practiced this week, but probably will see limited action.

Howard tries to start another winning streak today against Virginia State after Towson State ended its 10-game winning streak last week. When the Bison (3-1) meet the Trojans (4-1-1) at 1 p.m. at Greene Stadium, they might be without quarterback Lee DeBose (pulled groin). That could put a crimp in an offense that leads Division I-AA in rushing with an average of 355 yards per game.

In 1986, Pennsylvania beat Navy in what was a large upset, given the Quakers are Division I-AA and the Midshipmen are Division I-A. But when the teams meet at 1 p.m. today at Franklin Field it will be difficult to say who should win. The Midshipmen are 0-5 and have lost 12 straight -- the second in the streak being the 30-26 loss to Penn in Annapolis. The losing streak is the longest active in Division I-A and a loss today would tie the longest losing streak in Navy history.

The Quakers, who have won or shared the Ivy League title the last five seasons, are 2-2. They were shaky in beating Columbia two weeks ago, but appeared a bit stronger in defeating Brown last week.

The Midshipmen played their best game of the season last week in a 23-13 loss to Air Force, but lost several key players to injuries. Fullback Chuck Smith, who is Navy's leading rusher with 72 carries for 364 yards, sprained his left knee and won't play this week.

Virginia (3-3) has beaten South Carolina four times in the last 21 years, but the most recent occasion was the 1986 season opener. The teams meet today at 1:30 p.m. at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.

The Gamecocks (3-2) use the run-and-shoot offense and the man who runs it quite effectively is sophomore quarterback Todd Ellis, who is third in the nation in total offense with an average of 286.2 yards per game. "It's a very efficient passing game, especially when you have a quarterback like Ellis and the receivers they have," Virginia Coach George Welsh said. "He's what you want in all quarterbacks. He can run some and he's a good passer because of his effective judgment."

The two highest-ranked teams in the country will get chances to beat conference teams this week. No. 1-ranked Oklahoma (5-0) goes to Manhattan, Kan., to face the Wildcats of Kansas State, and No. 2-ranked Nebraska visits No. 12 Oklahoma State.

Syracuse is 5-0 and ranked 13th, but the Orangemen's schedule has been light so far. That ends Saturday, when No. 10 Penn State visits.