Azizuddin Abdur-Ra'oof has been in college football for five years. More importantly, he's a smart guy. So he knows what happens when you drop passes that would likely be touchdowns and your backup makes the plays.

"It's one of those things," he said leaving the locker room on his way to a class. "If you produce, you play. If you don't, you get demoted."

He's started all eight games this season, after missing the last seven games of last year with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Saturday's game against Penn State in Baltimore will begin with junior Vernon Joines in Abdur-Ra'oof's place.

"It doesn't matter," Abdur-Ra'oof said with an unconvincing shrug. "I'm going to play anyway, so it doesn't matter."

Because the Terrapins rotate four, and sometimes five, receivers, there probably won't be much change in playing time for either player. In this case, starting is mostly ceremonial.

Joines, who went to Southwestern High School in Baltimore, made his first collegiate catch two years ago at Memorial Stadium. He's had 35 since then including four last Saturday. Two of them went for the Terrapins' two touchdowns, which is why he will start. Abdur-Ra'oof had two catches, but a first-quarter drop of a seemingly sure touchdown stuck in people's minds.

"Vernon had a pretty good second half," receivers coach Dick Portee said. "It's really nothing other than performance. He did a nice job and blocked well, too. He does well and gets a start in Baltimore."

Saturday's 27-14 loss to North Carolina was the last game of the year at Byrd Stadium, as the Terrapins will play on the road at Clemson and then Vanderbilt. Coach Joe Krivak stopped practice midway and moved his team to Byrd, which is just across a parking lot from the practice facility.

"It gets dark, and with no more home games, there's no use saving the field and the lights are so much better {than on the practice field}," Krivak said. "It was a little livelier today and we had a little more zip."

The trouble for Maryland has been that the zip is missing on Saturday.

With their loss to the Tar Heels, the Terrapins are 4-4 overall and 3-2 with little hope of winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title. John F. Kennedy was president and none of the Terrapins players was born the only time Maryland beat Penn State, which was by 21-17 in 1961 at Byrd.

"I look at it much like I look at slavery and some of the other injustices that there have been in this country," Krivak said of Maryland's 22 consecutive losses to Penn State. "I can't be held accountable for what happened 90 or 100 years ago. Most of these kids weren't even born in 1961 {actually none were}. I've been playing Penn State since I was in college {at Syracuse}, and I certainly have respect for them. One thing I've learned is that Penn State very seldom beats itself. If you win, you win because you beat them."

Krivak was asked about a comment by Penn State Coach Joe Paterno that Maryland and Miami -- which the Nittany Lions beat to win last year's national championship -- had similar passing attacks.

"Coach Paterno can sometimes be a little flowery in his descriptions," Krivak said with a smile. "I think the only similarity is that we both have 11 guys on the field. If you look at Miami, we're a ways from being at that level. Before Saturday's out, Joe will have us being one of the best teams that they'll play this fall."