Howard University's "Blue Magic" offense will be hard pressed to continue its undefeated season today in Orangeburg, S.C., against South Carolina State University, also undefeated in three games. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game begins at 7:30 p.m.
The Bulldogs, tied for third in this week's Sheridan poll, beat the Bison, 55-17, in Orangeburg last year. But, Howard tied black college power Bethune-Cookman, 13-13, last week and is a vastly improved squad in Coach Floyd Keith's second year.
"We rank Howard real high now," said Bulldog Coach Bill Davis yesterday. "We've got a hell of a fight on our hands. This is a new team from last year and a conference win would make us 3-0 in the MEAC."
Davis' Bulldogs throw only when necessary and will probably run tailback Chris Ragland (1,301 yards gained last year) 25 to 30 times.
The Bison "Blue Demon" defense will have to contend with the option style offense the Bulldogs used to roll up nearly 3,000 yards rushing last season.
S.C. State also has two outstanding receivers in Charlie and Marion Brown, and it will undoubtedly spend much of the night trying to burn the young Bison secondary. A win by the underdog Bison would be cause for a major celebration.
There will be no major celebration in Charlottesville tonight, even if Virginia handles Duke in an Atlantic Coast Conference game in Durham. That fact is testimony to how much times have changed for the Cavaliers and for Duke.
The Blue Devils (0-2) have replaced Virginia (1-1) as the ACC doormat. They were winless in conference play a year ago and Virginia Coach Dick Bestwick's main worry is that his team might take Duke too lightly. Virginia dropped its ACC opener to North Carolina State last week and has not yet found its passing attack, with its receiving corps depleted by graduation and Greg Taylor, moved from running back to wide receiver, still out with a hamstring injury.
Navy, after a 6-3 opening loss to Virginia, came up with an offense in its 31-3 rout of Kent State a week ago. The Mids, with Fred Reitzel feeling more comfortable at quarterback each week, should pick up where they left off today against William and Mary at 2 p.m., in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
The Navy defense has not given up a touchdown this season and that mark has a good chance to stay intact against first-year Coach Jimmye Laycock's Indians, who are still struggling.
In other local games, Georgetown opens its season by hosting St. Francis, Pa. (0-3), at 1:30; the University of District of Columbia (0-2) is at Livingstone (0-2) at 1:30; Bowie State (0-3) is at Fayetteville (N.C.) State (2-1), 7:30, and Montgomery-Rockville (2-0), the 12th-ranked junior college in the country, plays at Harford Community College at 1:30. Hartford's only loss in its last 31 games was to Montgomery-Rockville last season.
Nationally, No. 3 Nebraska, leading the nation in total offense with more than 600 yards per game, travels to State College, Pa., for a 1:30 nationally televised game (WJLA-TV-7) against No. 11 Penn State in the feature attraction.
Top-ranked Alabama hosts Vanderbilt while No. 2 Ohio State is favored by 19 points over Arizona State in an intersectional game at Columbus.