at Virginia, Nov. 6

Several games on this year's schedule could prove to be season-defining contests. But only one, regardless of the outcome, promises to be talked about well into the offseason. Sure, the home date against Florida State is momentous, but the Terps still can secure a reputable bowl game if they lose. How about the road game in Blacksburg, Va., on a Thursday night? Yes, it's huge, but Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer is good buddies with Maryland's Ralph Friedgen.

The Nov. 6 meeting with Virginia in Charlottesville will be a rare contest in which fans' animosity could be rivaled by that of the coaches and players. Remember last season, when Maryland receivers coach James Franklin and Virginia Coach Al Groh appeared to exchange words near midfield during warmups?

This is Virginia's year, or so many of the preseason publications say, although it must replace quarterback Matt Schaub. The Cavaliers return 17 starters, including arguably the nation's best tight end in Heath Miller, and are predicted to finish third by the conference's media. This is a so-called rebuilding year for Maryland, a young team that faces four substantial road tests. If the Terps win, they will begin to eye such bowl games as the Peach or Gator -- or better? Lose, and Maryland might have to settle for a less prestigious bowl, and Virginia will have recruiting bragging rights for a year.

Terrapins' Josh Allen will look to run away with a victory over the Cavaliers, which should be a tense contest.