Virginia still wears the crown as the nation's No. 1 college football team. Maryland, which aspires to a lofty goal of its own -- a bowl invitation -- continued along that path, but Howard likely saw its chance at the Division I-AA playoffs disappear with a second consecutive loss.

The Cavaliers fell behind Wake Forest, 14-9, but unlike previously top-ranked Miami, Notre Dame and Michigan, who suffered upset losses, Virginia rallied to beat the Demon Deacons, 49-14.

"All this media attention is new to us," Virginia Coach George Welsh said of the ground swell that accompanied the first No. 1 ranking in school history. "But you don't stop people all the time. You can't expect shutouts week after week. Those kids are human. We're not the San Francisco 49ers."

Averaging 48 points and 540 total yards entering the game, the Cavaliers (7-0, 4-0 in the ACC) appeared conservative, despite beginning three first-quarter drives after Wake Forest turnovers.

That changed late in the opening half, when quarterback Shawn Moore hit wide receiver Herman Moore with a 49-yard touchdown pass. Thirty seconds before halftime, Shawn Moore hit Terry Kirby for a 20-yard score, and soon the rout was on.

Virginia tight end Bruce McGonnigal, who suffered a concussion and kidney and spleen injuries in a fall Thursday night, remained in good condition yesterday at University of Virginia hospital but likely will miss the rest of the regular season.

Virginia team physician Frank McCue said McGonnigal could return in time to play in a bowl game. McGonnigal fell down a flight of stairs while looking for a lost dog. McCue said McGonnigal will remain hospitalized for at least two weeks to prevent a ruptured spleen.

McGonnigal is the second starter lost for the season. Two weeks ago offensive guard Chris Borsari broke a leg. Starting linebackers P.J. Killian (pinched neck nerve) and James Pearson (shoulder) did not travel to Wake Forest but are expected to play against undefeated and 11th-ranked Georgia Tech Nov. 3, a game that may be the toughest on Virginia's schedule.

When Maryland routed Wake Forest last week, the Terrapins began to renew the bowl talk that accompanied a 3-1 start. After Saturday's 23-20 triumph over Duke, even Terrapins Coach Joe Krivak came ever so close to declaring that the drive for postseason play was on.

"We're 5-3 and still in position," he said. "We have to go hard one more week {at North Carolina Saturday} before we get a week off. If we just keep winning everything should take care of itself."

Maryland and Duke were even in virtually every offensive category, but the Terrapins defense contained the big-play Duke offense, particularly in the final four minutes. That set up Dan DeArmas's game-winning, 20-yard field goal with 50 seconds left.

Freshman H-back Frank Wycheck caught five passes during the game, giving him the school's single-season record of 54 receptions, breaking Greg Hill's mark of 51 in 1984.

The news wasn't all good, however. Starting outside linebacker Greg Hines, tied for the team lead with four sacks, sprained his right knee in the first quarter and likely will miss two to three weeks. Also, reserve linebacker David Marrone sprained his right ankle and is questionable for Saturday's game.

More than two weeks ago, Howard had the longest winning streak (nine games) in Division I-AA and was looking forward to beating Division II Virginia State, then unveiling some new wrinkles for its Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference foes.

However, the Bison sleepwalked through a 19-14 loss to the Trojans and stumbled again Saturday in a 33-12 homecoming loss to North Carolina A&T. Although Howard (5-2, 2-1 in MEAC) outgained the Aggies, 354 to 215, the visitors made the big plays.

"Special teams seems to be our downfall," Bison quarterback Donald Carr said. "It is hurting us right now but we all have to regroup. We haven't played a complete game all season."