Maryland, which hasn't lost to Virginia in 10 years, will try to end its season on a positive note in an Atlantic Coast Conference game at 1:30 p.m. today at Byrd Stadium. Virginia, which has never beaten a Jerry Claiborne-coached Terrapin team, will be trying to salvage some pride.
Also at 1:30 today, the oldest rivalry in black college football resumes when Howard University visits Morgan State in Baltimore.
"Virginia's season has been a great deal like ours," Claiborne said. Both teams have experienced greatly disappointing seasons, in part because of early-season injuries to key personnel.
The Cavaliers (1-8, 0-5 in the ACC) have lost four games by three points or less and Maryland (3-6-1, 3-2) has lost four fourth-quarter leads.
Virginia's strategy will be to pass frequently; Maryland has allowed 275 yards per game. Mike Eck will start at quarterback for Virginia because of an injury to Gordie Whitehead. Whitehead led the Cavaliers to a 14-7 lead over 12th-ranked North Carolina last week before suffering a separated shoulder.
"That Gordie Whitehead moved the ball well against North Carolina," Claiborne said this week. "He hit his open receivers, mixed up his passes, did a fine job. I haven't seen such a passing performance since. . . Well, I take that back. I see one every week. Against us."
Howard trails Morgan in their series, 31-13-3. The series dates to Thanksgiving Day of 1899 when the Bison won, 71-0, at Howard Stadium. Howard's 51-6 victory over the Golden Bears last year hardly set well with Morgan State.
"You don't have to pump the kids up much for this game," Bison Coach Floyd Keith said yesterday. "They realize the importance of the rivalry to both schools and both football programs. It's always a big game and it's always exciting."
Keith was harshly criticized by the Bears last year for running up the score. Howard threw four passes that set up a late touchdown, which allowed Tracy Singleton to set the school record for pass receiving.
Morgan Coach Clarence Thomas, who had resigned before the game, said Howard lacked class and character, and predicted that, "Somewhere, there will be another time, another place and another (Morgan) team. And Howard will be on the short end."
The Bears' pass defense is allowing only 79 yards per game. Morgan's linebackers, John Day and Ernest Davis, lead the team with 92 tackles each. They are capable of covering quick running backs, and even wide receivers, if necessary.
But Howard's primary receiver is special. Singleton, the junior split end from McKinley Tech, needs only 18 yards to go over the 1,000 mark for the second straight season.
Morgan's biggest problem will be on offense, where quarterback Daryl Brown will start in place of injured Darrell Coulter, who holds all the school's passing records. Coulter sustained a knee injury before last week's game. Brown, who started last week, has completed only 11 of 44 passes.