It didn't take long for Miami to sell the 10,000 tickets it received for last week's game at Georgia Tech. It didn't take long for Miami to request more tickets and sell them with no trouble, which created a more amiable environment on the road.
This Saturday, Virginia Tech is expected to bring legions of fans to Groves Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., where the Hokies will face Wake Forest before a crowd that will have more of a maroon hue than usual.
Expect no such atmosphere in College Park, where Georgia Tech will face Maryland on Saturday at Byrd Stadium, which has become one of the more hostile venues in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The 23rd-ranked Terps (3-1) have won 13 consecutive games at Byrd Stadium, the sixth-longest streak in the country. Maryland's last home loss, the only one during Coach Ralph Friedgen's tenure at his alma mater, came Sept. 14, 2002, when then-No. 5 Florida State beat Maryland, 37-10.
"I definitely think it's a tougher place to play than when we were there at Georgia Tech," said Friedgen, who was an assistant at Georgia Tech from 1997 to 2000. "The place is packed."
The last time Friedgen traveled to Byrd Stadium while coaching at Georgia Tech, 24,701 fans showed for the Yellow Jackets' 35-22 victory on Nov. 18, 2000. Maryland has not had fewer than 50,000 fans attend a home game since 39,006 showed for the regular-season finale against Wake Forest in 2002.
This season, the Terps have sold out the first five home games and discussions are long underway about expanding stadium capacity to at least 60,000 in the coming years.
Maryland defensive end Shawne Merriman said the team definitely plays better because of the home atmosphere. Added Georgia Tech Coach Chan Gailey, "It's a tough place to play, but we have to get ready to play."
Rix Available for Seminoles
Florida State senior quarterback Chris Rix, who suffered a high ankle sprain against Clemson two weeks ago, will travel to Syracuse for Saturday's game. Seminoles Coach Bobby Bowden said if starter Wally Sexton is knocked out of the game, Rix would be available as an emergency backup.
Rix, the oft-criticized quarterback, would only be effective in handing off the ball. If Florida State needed mobility should Sexton get injured, Bowden said he likely would look to a walk-on rather than burn touted freshman Xavier Lee's redshirt status. "I still don't want to waste Xavier Lee if we can help it," Bowden said.
Bowden said he is not sure how Syracuse (3-2) got on the schedule, but attributes it to an adjustment made because of conference realignment. In any case, Bowden said he enjoys playing in the Carrier Dome because, "At least I know when I go up there it ain't going to rain on us. It ain't going to snow on us."
Deacons Learn Tough Lesson
Is there a bigger surprise this season in the ACC than Wake Forest? The Demon Deacons (3-2) have already beaten Boston College, which will join the conference next season, and lost two overtime games, one at North Carolina State last week and the other at Clemson to open the season.
"The toughest thing to do is be in overtime on the road," Wake Forest Coach Jim Grobe said.
Two things hurt Wake Forest against North Carolina State. First, the Demon Deacons surrendered 21 third-quarter points that gave the Wolfpack a 21-14 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Second, Grobe's team lost the overtime coin toss. Wake Forest was forced to go on offense first and eventually faced fourth and two from the 17. Gobe opted for the field goal, which was missed, setting up the Wolfpack's four-play, game-winning touchdown drive.
"The lesson is not how to play better in overtime," Grobe said, "but to have it not get to overtime."
Miami Coach Larry Coker declined to call Brock Berlin's career-high three-touchdown performance against Georgia Tech a turning point in the quarterback's growth. But Coker said he saw significant improvement. Hurricanes tackle Eric Winston will undergo season-ending knee surgery today. . . .
Duke Coach Ted Roof said the Blue Devils' open week has come at precisely the right time -- after Duke earned its first victory of the season, 28-10, against The Citadel. "It adds a little bounce in your step, a little more pep," Roof said, "which is always a good thing." . . .
Bowden said he supports abolishing the longtime practice of players staying in hotels the night before a home game because it "could save a lot of money." Bowden, however, won't be the first to do away with it because, he said, other teams who maintained the habit would gain a competitive advantage.