It will be the most challenging game to date for both nationally ranked and unbeaten teams when Maryland hosts Kentucky at Byrd Stadium this afternoon at 1:30.

Navy also risks a perfect record (2-0 and unscored upon), traveling to Boston College for its first tough assignment of the season.

In other games involving area teams, winless Howard plays at Floride A&M at 7:30, Virginia hosts Virginia Military and Virginia Tech is at home against William and Mary.

The 3-0 Terrapins have been installed a one-to three-point favorite over the 1-0-1 Wildcats, who have changed from a running to a passing team under new quarterback Mike Deaton.

In Kentucky's 14-14 tie with South Carolina and 25-21, come-from-behind win over Baylor, the 18th-ranked Wildcats amassed at total of 362 yards in the air and 302 on the ground.

With last year's quarterback, Derrik Ramsey, off to the Oakland Raiders, Deaton - who has quit the team twice over the matter of playing time - is the most significant new part in the machine that rolled to a 10-1 1977 record but stopped short of a bowl because of NCAA prabation.

Sixteen starters returned to the Wildcats, but Deaton gives the offense a new look. Deaton is ranked 18th in the country in passing, completing 28 of 48 for 362 yards, but he has been intercepted five times. The Wildcats were intercepted only seven times all last season.

His main target is wide receiver Felix Wilson, the country's seventh-leading receiver with 12 catches for 164 yards.He caught 14 passes last year.

The Wildcat defense is strong, but offensively they have been causing themselves problems. They had to overcome three interceptions, two lost fumbles and back-to-back major penalties in the win over Baylor.

"If we go out there and make a lot of turnovers like we did against Baylor, the score could easily be a 30-point difference," said Kentucky Coach Fran Curci. "They (the Terrapins) have great patience. They'll wait for you to make that mistake.

"They defense is basically an eightman front and no one uses that any more, but (Coach Jerry) Claiborne knows everything about it. They just line up and dare you to throw, and you can't run against it. They control the line of scrimmage."

Claiborne's biggest worries should be Kentucky's kicking game and a letdown after last week's 21-20 win over defending Atlantic Coast Conference champion North Carolina.

Kentucky leads the country in kickoff returns, returning five for 177 yards - a 35.2 yard average. Henry Parks, Randy Brooks and Robert Hawkins are all averaging more than 25 yards a return.

"They beat Baylor because of their kicking game," said Claiborne, whose Terps are ranked 13th and 15th in the polls.

Curi points out, however, that "the most impressive thing about our players is their staying power. They have chances to fold, but they hang in there. We are in need of a lot of improvement, but the effort is there. We think we can clean up our mistakes."

Claiborne, who played and coached at Kentucky and is a member of the UK Hall of Fame, says that nose guard Richard Jaffe "is by far the best nose guard we have played against." Jaffe is only fifth in tackles, however, behind linebacker Lester Boyd (15 solos, 10 assists), defense back Venus Meau (13 and four), linebacker Jim Kovach (12 and 15) and defensive back Larry Carter (10 and seven).

Boston College's biggest problem so far in its 0-2 season has been fumbles: 17 of them for 12 losses.

"Right now, I feel it is extremely important for us to play a good football game and get our confidence back," said new BC Coach Ed Chlebek. BC suffered a 37-2 defeat at the hands of Texas A&M last week. "In spite of the Texas A&M score, I feel that our team improved in virtually every area, especially our kicking game," Chlebek said.

"Navy has the best defense in years. Bob Leszczynski is an excellent quarterback and Phil McConkey (11th in the nation among all-purpose runners) is an outstanding receiver. They can really go after you with their passing game."

Boston College has given up only 97 yards passing in two games, but has allowed a whopping 537 on the grounds, so the Mids may go more to a running attack.

NOTES: Approximately 3,000 seats will be available at the gate for Maryland's game will be televised on a delayed basis at 11:30 p.m. (WJLA-TV-7) . . . Tailback Steve Atkin, on a 130-yard-per-game rushing tear, did not play against Kentucky the last time the two teams met in 1976 when Maryland won at College Park, 24-14 . . . Maryland has won seven straight, dating back to last year's loss to North Carolina . . . Navy will be playing without starting tight end Carl Hendershot, who was suspended from the team for one week for minor violations of team training rules . . . Kenny Lewis of Virginia Tech is second in the nation in scoring with 42 points on seven touchdowns . . . Steve Callahan of Navy and Randy Brooks of Kentucky are tied for fifth with 24 points on four TDs . . . Ted Brown of North Carolina State is the nation's fifth leading rusher, with 480 yards in three games. Greg Rhett of Duke is ninth (277 yards in two games) and Atkins is 13th (390 yards in three games).