This could be a heady week for the Atlantic Coast Conference, with Clemson maintaining its spot in the top 25, No. 23 Georgia Tech possibly breaking into the nation's elite and -- in the biggest move of all -- Virginia jumping into the top three.

However, the good feelings didn't reach College Park, as Maryland, which was hoping to place its own stamp of greatness among its peers, was instead stomped by the Yellow Jackets, 31-3, at Byrd Stadium last Saturday.

"Maybe we have to reevaluate our goals; we can still have a winning season, that should be the main goal of our football team," said linebacker Scott Whittier.

Howard is well on its way to achieving a winning season, and then some. The Bison's 23-7 victory over Bethune-Cookman improved their record to 5-0. Now winners of nine straight games over the last two seasons -- the longest streak in Division I-AA -- Howard may even gain some notice in the national polls.

Navy, which is just trying to gain a little respect, stumbled against Air Force, turning the ball over six times en route to a 24-7 loss.

Virginia was idle, but still stands to benefit from an afternoon on which No. 1 Notre Dame was upset by Stanford and No. 2 Florida State fell to Miami. The Cavaliers, ranked fourth entering the weekend, figure to at least move into the top three, perhaps as high as second behind Michigan.

Despite a brutal schedule that includes seven games against teams that played in bowls last season (including Michigan, Clemson and Virginia), Coach Joe Krivak was quietly hopeful that the Terrapins would be able to keep pace.

Those hopes remained after three wins in four games, with the lone defeat a one-point decision to Clemson. But Maryland (3-3, 1-2) looked like anything but a contender against Georgia Tech, its offense giving up 11 sacks and unable to dent a defense that's yet to give up a touchdown this season.

At the same time, the Terrapins' usually stalwart defense could not cope with Yellow Jackets quarterback Shawn Jones, who threw for a career-high 271 yards and directed the visitors to 473 yards total offense -- a season-high yield for Maryland.

"I've thought about that -- were we tired, were we flat," said Krivak. "Did we put too much importance on it? I don't know. I can't put my finger on it, but we're certainly capable of playing better than we did. There's no excuse for what happened, but we have to put it behind us and keep moving forward."

Before Saturday's game against Wake Forest, Whittier said he hopes the Terrapins will have forgotten about bowl games and national rankings.

"This year, the public didn't expect us to do very much so even being 3-3, we're probably ahead of their expectations," he said. "But right now we're not doing what we thought we could."

Howard has been a surprise since an 8-3 season last year under first-year coach Steve Wilson. Last year the Bison ranked first in Division I-AA total defense.

This season, the Bison are not much worse, ranking seventh nationally before Saturday's victory over Bethune-Cookman, which entered the game with the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference's top passing attack. Howard held Bethune to 92 yards total offense (including minus-one net rushing).

"I don't think anyone in the MEAC can run on us," said Howard defensive end Ransom Miller. "And we put good pressure on their quarterback {Jermaine Hall}. Every time he dropped back, somebody was on him."

Now Howard, which could only muster enough votes to finish 29th in last week's Division I-AA poll, hopes it will move up the ladder.

Navy was also discouraged after its ninth straight loss to the Falcons. The Midshipmen came out on the short end despite the fact that Air Force completed just one pass and committed 10 penalties.

Navy senior quarterback Gary McIntosh, starting for injured Alton Grizzard, completed 15 of 32 passes for 210 yards, but was intercepted three times and lost a fumble. Overall, Navy suffered six turnovers.

"Our execution needs so much improvement," said Navy Coach George Chaump. "I feel terrible. We just didn't play well."