There are no hotel rooms available within 40 miles of Charlottesville. Cavalier preppies have loosened the top buttons on their oxford shirts. Excitement and anticipation have taken over the campus, all because today Virginia plays its Atlantic Coast Conference homecoming game with Wake Forest at 3:30 (WJLA-TV-7) in Scott Stadium.
Rarely is Virginia involved in such an important football game so late in the season. The winner will remain in the running for the ACC championship; the loser drops from contention. Virginia is 1-0-1 in the conference and Wake Forest is 2-1.
Navy is under less pressure in Annapolis this afternoon, because its homecoming game is against Division I-AA Princeton at 2 p.m. in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Howard, in another homecoming game, will play North Carolina A&T at 1 in RFK Stadium (WHMM-TV-32). Maryland, which leads the ACC at 2-0, has the day off.
Virginia opened the season with a 55-0 loss at home to Clemson. The Cavaliers have won four and tied one since, and could cause more excitement in Charlottesville by running their unbeaten streak to six games.
First, they have to stop Michael Ramseur (703 yards rushing) and Topper Clemons (499), who have run for nearly 200 yards a game. But Virginia's rushing defense, since the Clemson game, has lowered its opponents' average to 3.3 yards a carry.
All that could make Foy White, Wake Forest's quarterback, the key. He has thrown six touchdown passes and only two interceptions, and his play probably has put celebrated transfer Jamie Harris on the bench for the rest of the season.
Quarterback is where Virginia is having problems. Don Majkowski completed six of 20 passes last week in a 20-20 tie with Georgia Tech. But one of those completions was a 74-yard touchdown pass to John Ford, and perhaps Virginia -- the best in the ACC at producing big plays -- doesn't need consistency to win.
Navy barely beat Princeton last year, 37-29. And the Tigers' quarterback, Doug Butler, leads an offense producing 414 yards per game (10th-best in Division I-AA) this season..
"I get a little anxious in looking at Princeton. They came back on us last year and Doug is one of the best quarterbacks we'll face," Navy Coach Gary Tranquill said this week.
Howard is playing a team with perhaps more problems this year than the Bison. The Aggies' leading passer is Alvin Hooker, who has completed only 27 of 66 passes.