Navy and Maryland, two of the nation's 15 unbeaten and untied major college football teams, will try to extend their streaks today in completely different types of football games.
Navy will face a certified challenge in its home opener at Annapolis: Duke off to its best start (3-1) since 1974. Tenth-ranked Maryland travels to Syracuse, where injuries and a 1-4 record have alleviated any challenge other than for the 5-0 Terps to resist a letdown.
In other games today involving area teams, Howard (1-3) visits Virginia State (2-4), Georgetown (3-0) goes to Gallandet (2-2) and Catholic (3-1) plays host to Duquesne (3-1).
Navy (ranked 19th by UPI, unranked by AP) has complied its best start since 1960 by winning its first four games all on the road. The Mids come home leading the nation in team defense and wondering exactly what to expect from themselves.
"Duke will be the best team we've faced this year," George Welsh paid. "They have a decent offense and a quarterback in Mike Dunn who can beat you.
"We're fortunate to be coming home with a 4-0 record. I thought our effort against Air Force last Saturday was our best from the overall viewpoint of offense and defense. But we still have not proved we're a real solid football team as yet."
Navy's schedule has been easy so far, but the Mids have won decisively each time, defeating Virginia (32-0), Connecticut (30-8), Boston College (19-8) and Air Force (37-8).Along the way, Navy has amassed 1,520 yards total offense while giving up 52.
Duke's optimism is tainted by humbling 52-0 loss to Michigan. Tailback Greg Rhett, the Atlantic Coast Conference's third-leading rusher with an average 102 yards a game, has an ankle injury. Although Duke expects him to play today, he may not start.
Maryland's game against Syracuse became less interesting when it was learned that Orangeman quarterback Bill Hurley will not dress. Highly regarded Hurley has been a one-man offense for the otherwise thin Syracuse team, but cracked ribs held him out of all but one game. In that game last week, Hurley piloted Syracuse to its only win, 31-15, over West Virginia.
Hurley bruised his tender ribs in that contest and cannot lift his arm. Sophomore Tim Wilson, who qurterbacked the 27-19 loss to North Carolina State and the 49-21 loss to Michigan State, will start today. He sat out the last two games.
Wilson has completed five of 13 passes for 122 yards, one interception and one touchdown. Syracuse has been outscored, 147-85.
Maryland continues to ride the running of Steve tkins, passing of Tim O'Hare and aggressiveness of its defense. Atkins in the nation's ninth leading rusher, averaging 135 yards a game, with 675 yards so far. He needs two touchdowns to tie the Maryland career mark of 27 set by Louis Carter.
O'Hare leads the ACC in completions per game with 9.4, in total completions with 47 and in yards passing with 651. He has been intercepted once in 82 attempts.
Maryland's defense leads the conference in rushing defense (giving up 125.6 yards a game) and is second total and pass defense.
Placekicker Ed Loncar, who has attempted 13 field goals and hit eight, leads the ACC in field goals per game with 1.6.
Howard faces a turnover-prone Virginia State team which has lost 24 of 39 funbles and been intercepted 13 times.
"We still have our work cut out for us," said Howard Coch Doug Porter. "We'll have to play heads up in our remaining contests this season, but barring serious injuries, I think we'll do fine."
Howard leads Division 1-schools in punt returns, returning five for 96 yards and one touchdown.
Atkins is sixth in the nation among all-purpose runners, averaging 167.6 yards per game . . . Navy placekicker Bob Tata is second in the country in field goals per game (225) and ninth in scoring (9.5 points a game). He's kicked nine field goals and 11 extra points and leads the nation in scoring by kicking . . . Maryland's game will be shown on delayed telecast at 11:30 p.m. (WJLA-TV-7) . . . Four of the nation's 15 unbeaten and untied teams finished under 500 last season: Navy, Utah State. Holy Cross and Wisconsin. Others unbeaten and untied, in addition to Maryland are Penn State (idle today). Ball State, Colorado, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, LSU-Michigan, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Southern California.