If the Virginia Cavaliers -- the No. 1-ranked Virginia Cavaliers -- have any thoughts that might lead to overconfidence in today's Atlantic Coast Conference game at Wake Forest, Coach George Welsh can point out that the nation's top-ranked team has been upset in each of the last two weeks.

Maryland does not have that problem heading into its ACC game at Duke. The Terrapins (4-3, 2-2 ACC) still are seeking respect in the league and are looking to go two games over the .500 mark for the first time in two years -- and to avenge last year's 46-25 loss to the Blue Devils.

Another local team that should not have to deal with overconfidence is Howard, which will try to bounce back from last week's upset loss to Division II Virginia State in its homecoming game against North Carolina A&T today at Greene Stadium.

After losses by Notre Dame and Michigan the last two weeks, the Cavaliers (6-0, 3-0) moved into the top spot for the first time in school history. But Welsh said he is not concerned with rankings, at least not at this point of the season.

"They don't mean much right now; I don't know if it makes you a bigger target for your opposition or not," he said of his team's status. "I still feel the best way to do it is to concentrate on your opponent and have respect for them and make sure you have good preparation during the week, and that will carry over into Saturday."

Wake Forest (2-4, 0-3) certainly respects Virginia, and Coach Bill Dooley must hope the rest of that formula applies to the Demon Deacons. If so, he said, perhaps the string of No. 1 upsets will continue.

"We've got to feel like we've got a chance of winning it and I think we have," Dooley said. "But being realistic, we've got to play error-free football. We can't make a mistake."

Wake Forest has lost seven fumbles and thrown six interceptions. The Virginia defense has nine interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries and ranks fifth in scoring defense, allowing 11 points per game. Conversely, the Demon Deacons have to contend with an attack that has averaged 48 points and 540 yards -- best in the country.

Maryland had its biggest point total in two years in last week's 41-13 rout of Wake Forest and rushed for 280 yards -- its biggest ground production in six years. That type of effort has been promised all season by the Terrapins and a repeat would serve them well against Duke (3-3, 0-2), which has yielded an average of 249 yards rushing this season.

"Running like that only takes pressure off me and the offensive line -- they don't have to just fall back and pass-block every play," said quarterback Scott Zolak, who completed 14 of 18 passes against Wake Forest. "It gives the defense something else to look at; they can't just pin their ears back and just blitz me and play man-to-man in the secondary. Now we'll see more zone defenses and we should get more time to throw."

Freshman H-back Frank Wycheck is sixth in the nation in receptions with 49 and is three catches away from setting a school record for receptions in a season. Senior wide receiver Barry Johnson (23 catches, 19.1-yard average) needs 14 receptions to become Maryland's all-time leading receiver.

With Duke apparently not as strong as the 1989 team that shared the ACC championship and with a game against so-so North Carolina coming up next week, whispers have once again started around campus about a postseason bid for the Terrapins.

"I'm not thinking about that yet -- maybe after these next two games," Zolak said. "We have to win those next two games, then take our week off and get ready for those last two {at Penn State and Virginia}. I think we could go; we should be 5-2 now. . . . But if we lose these next two games I know we're not going anywhere."

After having a nine-game winning streak snapped in the loss to Virginia State, Howard Coach Steve Wilson admitted that "it's a peculiar feeling coming off a loss."

With Howard's hopes for a postseason berth riding on winning its last five games, Wilson has decided to concentrate on one week at a time.

"For whatever the reason, we didn't go down to Virginia State with that killer instinct but we got a wake-up call," he said. "Now we don't have to worry about rankings or winning streaks -- we just have to get a win against A&T."