The rush-hour traffic near the top of the Atlantic Coast Conference standings will be unclogged by this evening. Four teams with one conference loss apiece play each other today.
Maryland, one of those teams in second placeat 2-1 (North Carolina State and Clemson are the other two), hosts 1-1 Duke at 1.30 in a homecoming game. North Carolina leads the league with a 2-0 mark.
Navy tunes up for next week's trip to Notre Dame with a 2 p.m. contest with William and Mary at Annapolis. Howard will switch to quarterback Brian Thomas in an effort to reach the .500 mark as the Bison travel to North Carolina A&T.
Maryland and Duke have identical overall records (3-3) and probably the ACC's best quarterbacks in Larry Dick, the Terps' 60 per cent passer, and Mike Dunn, the Blue Devils Mr. Do-It-All.
Dick, who took over when Mark Manges broke his hand Oct. 8, ended the Terps' three-game losing streakmwith two straight victories, but credit an assist to running back Steve Atkins.
It is no coincidence that the last time Maryland lost, Atkins did nothing but return kickoffs. In the last two victories, over Syracuse and Wake Forest, Atkins has resurrected his no fear form and carried the ball 52 times, gaining 234 yards and scoring three touchdowns.
When both Atkins and Dick are clicking, the Terps' offense seems to respond with an effort difficult to stop. Maryland is favoed by 10.
Dunn also gets help from his team's leading rusher, who happens to be Dunn.
"Mike Dunn is posibly the best all-around quarterback we've played against," said Maryland coach Jerry Claiborne, whose team has proven vulnerable to capable signal-callers: West Virginia's Dan Kendra, Penn State's Chuck Fusina and N.C. State's Johnny Evans.
Dunn has to play better than he did last year against the Terps, who have won the last three meetings, including a 30-3 verdict in 1976.
Dunn completed only nine of 22 passes with three interceptions that day, and rushed for only 18 yards on 12 carries. It was his worst game of the year.
"We look forward to this game," said Duke coach Mike McGee, because we had a very disappointing game in Durham last year."
Dunn is averaging 100 yars passing and 53 yars rushing a game.Tail-back Mike Barney and fullback Ned Gonet have rushed for a combined 88 yards a contest; they will both play with injuries, and substitutes Stanley Broadie and Mike Addesa will relieve them.
Duke's defense is dotted with injuries ries. The Devil's best defensive player, linebacker Carl McGee, is out with a shoulder injury, and defensive back George Gawdum will not play.
Maryland's defense, which had its best game last week, has all starters healthy except halfback Doug Harbert, who has been out since sept. 24 with a broken collarbone.
North Carolina will remain atop the standings at least until next week's
The Navy-William and Mary game offers each of another pair of 33 squads a chance to become a winning football team.
Navy coach George Welsh is concerned about his defense after last week's 34-17 loss at Pittsburgh.
"Looking at William and Mary, I see another good offensive team with a good option game," said Welsh. "We have to stop them offensively, which is going to be tough because they have excellent runners in (tailback) Jim Kruis and (fullback) Keith Fimian and a fine quarterback in Tom Rozanta.
"I also think we've staeted off too cautiously in most games, os I am still looking for a better start."
Howard is looking for a better quarterback and will start sophomore Thomas in place of freshman Ronald Wilson. Wilson was shaken up last week's game and Thomas came on to complete seven of 14 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown, leading the Bison to a 33-0 victory over Virginia State in their best offensive effort of the year.
Howard is virtually out of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference race with a 1-2 mark, but North Carolina A&T is still alive at 1-1. Howard is 2-3 overall A&T 3-3.
A&T has no trouble deciding on a quaterback. Elsworth Turner is hoping to repeat the kind of effort that rallied his team from a 21-0 halftime deficit to tie Howard last season.
Game at Maryland as the Tar Heels play a nonconference contest today with South Carolina, North Carolina State, 3-1 in the ACC, plays at favored 2-1 Clemson.