The Naval Academy will try to pull off its second consecutive giant killing when the Midshipmen meet undefeated, third-ranked Notre Dame today at 1:30 p.m. before an expected 76,000 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
The Mids (5-2) are just coming back to earth after last week's upset of Pacific-10 favorite Washington in Seattle, but have not beaten the Irish since 1963. They lost, 14-0, last season, and Notre Dame this year is off to its best start since its 1973 championship season.
"To beat Notre Dame, we're going to have to play like we did against Washington last week," said Navy Coach George Welsh. "But I don't know if we're capable of playing like that two weeks in a row." The Mids may be able to keep up with the high-scoring Irish if quarterback Fred Reitzel, impressive last week against the Huskies, can turn in a similar performance in his home state.
Notre Dame is averaging 383 yards per game and ranks 12th nationally in rushing with 280 yards, but Navy's defense is sixth best in the country.
"Their offense linemen are so big they should be illegal," Welsh says. The Mids' offensive line, on the other hand, has been decimated by injuries the last three weeks, with six starters and substitutes sidelined.
If the University of Maryland is to stay in contention for a postseason bowl invitation this year, the Terrapins must win today's homecoming game with Atlantic Coast Conference opponent North Carolina State at 1:30 in Byrd Stadium.
The Terps (5-3) plan to start senior Mike Tice at quarterback. The 6-foot-5 senior has missed most of the last two weeks with a hip pointer, but has regained mobility this week in practice. If Tice is not healthy enough, Maryland Coach Jerry Clairborne will go to last week's hero, Brent Dewitz. Dewitz, a 6-foot junior, moved up to second string after leading last week's rally for a 17-14 victory at Duke after the Terps had trailed, 14-0.
Howard goes to Hampton, Va., to play nonconference rival Hampton Institute. The Bison haven't lost to the Pirates since 1968. Howard's passing attack -- mostly quarterback Ronald Wilson to receiver Tracy Singleton -- should be too much for the only average Pirate secondary.
Wilson is the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference leader in individual offense and ranks fourth in the 38-school Division 1-AA, having gained nearly 200 yards per game. Wilson, the senior from Anacostia High School, needs fewer than 200 yards to break the school's record (1,417) for yards passing in a season.
Sophomore split end Singleton, with only 40 yards more, will set a school receiving record. The Bison offense has been unstoppable the last three weeks, as the team's record has surged to 4-2-1.
Virginia and Tennessee, two 3-4 teams, will try to overcome quarterbacking problems and restore confidence to programs that began the season with legitimate hopes for bowl invitations.
Cavalier Coach Dick Bestwick says he has decided to stay with junior quarterback Todd Kirtley the rest of the season after alternating the Robinson High School graduate with backup Lindsay Delaney.
Locally, Georgetown will be at Catholic University for the game both schools consider their most important of the season. The Hoyas are 4-1, Catholic 3-2, with kickoff at 1:30. UDC (2-5) will be hard-pressed to win at Salisbury State (7-0-1) tonight and Bowie State (0-7-1) entertains Central State at 1:30.