Stopping the running of tailback Joe Morris and the passing of quarterback Bill Hurley will be the keys for Navy today when the Mids try to break a two-game losing streak in Annapolis against Syracuse. (WJLA-TV-7, 12:50 p.m.)
Morris, 5-foot-7 and 177 pounds, already has rushed for 1,114 yards for the 5-4 Orangemen this season. Last year he rushed for 203 yards against Navy in Syracuse's 20-17 upset in the final game ever held in Syracuse's Archbold Stadium.
Balancing Morris is quarterback Hurley, who already holds 15 school records for total offense and who completed 20 of 31 passes for 283 yards two years ago when Syracuse dumped the Mids, 45-34, in Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.
Navy's defense played well last week in a 14-0 loss to Notre Dame and is only giving up 216 yards a game. By contrast, Syracuse is allowing 384 yards a game, the main reason their record is barely over .500 in spite of their offensive firepower.
Navy, with a 6-2 record, is still thinking about a Bowl bid. A win today would be a giant step in that direction, with only Georgia Tech and Army left to play.
Other local games today include St. Francis (Pa.) at 5-2 Catholic, where the Cardinals are coming off their big win over Georgetown last week; Georgetown, also 5-2, closes out its season at Washington and Lee; Bowie State, (3-6) also closes its season with a contest at Norfolk State; the Univesity of the District of Columbia, (6-2) has a 1:30 p.m. game at Dunbar against Virginia Commonwealth a club team; and James Madison, 2-7, hosts Morehead State in the Madison finale.
Nationally, there are a number of games crucial to the rankings and the bowl picture. Most notably, Michigan at Purdue, the winner staying alive along with 9-0 Ohio State in the RoseBowl picture; Southern California at Washington, with the Huskies trying to upset the fourth-ranked Trojans for a shot at hosting the Rose Bowl; Texas at Houston, the Cougars trying to rap up a Cotton Bowl spot; Alabama, trying to extend its winning streak to 18, at Louisiana State, and, believe it or not, Georgia, 4-4, but 4-0 in the Southeastern Conference, trying to take another step towards the Sugar Bowl by beating 0-6-1 Florida.
In the ACC, Clemson, (6-2) is at North Carolina (5-2-1) with bowl scouts watching both; North Carolina State (6-3) hosts Penn State, (5-3); and Wake Forest (7-2) is at home trying to cinch a bowl berth against hapless Duke.