Banners waved in Charlottesville Saturday, encouraging officials from the Peach Bowl to take a good look at Virginia, a football team off to its best start in 33 years. With four games remaining, however, the Cavaliers, 5-1-1, may be looking a little higher.
Coach George Welsh and his team don't play this weekend, so they have a few days to savor Saturday's 28-9 victory over Wake Forest. They can be especially happy with rushing for 355 yards and having two backs -- Barry Word and Howard Petty -- go more than 100 yards.
Virginia also kept pace with Maryland, idle Saturday. The Terrapins, defending Atlantic Coast Conference champions, are 2-0 in league play and should win their third this week against Duke.
Virginia (5-1-1 overall, 2-0-1 in the ACC) has a nonconference game with West Virginia in two weeks, then finishes with North Carolina State at home, North Carolina on the road, and back at home against Maryland. No wonder Welsh says any bowl talk is premature. The Cavaliers, it seems, need at least two victories in the next three games for a serious look.
North Carolina, 1-1 in league play, seems to be the only other team with a chance of winning the ACC title.
The Terrapins (3-3 overall) may still be the favorite to win the conference. But Maryland has all five of its remaining games away from Byrd Stadium: at Duke, at North Carolina, at Miami, Clemson (in Baltimore) and at Virginia. Coach Bobby Ross said he does not regret having moved the Clemson game to Memorial Stadium, which will be sold out for the Nov. 17 contest.
Navy may be a lot stronger than Division I-AA Princeton, but the Midshipmen had at least two casualties from Saturday's 41-3 victory. Tight end Mark Stevens suffered a sprained knee on his fourth and final reception, which put him over 1,000 yards receiving in his career. The injury is not considered to be serious and he may be able to play Saturday at Pitt. Flanker Ken Heine suffered a fractured arm and will be operated on this morning. He will miss at least two games, a Navy spokesman said.
Navy also received good news yesterday when junior defensive back Tommy Metzger was named ECAC defensive player of the week for making 11 tackles, one interception and a pass deflection in only his second start.
Quarterback Bill Byrne, who completed 13 of 17 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a touchdown, was named ECAC rookie of the week. Byrne has thrown nine touchdown passes with only four interceptions, and has had 74 straight passes without an interception.