Maryland would like to know if it's really as bad as it looked last week and Virginia would like to know if it's really as good as it looked. Some answers should be provided when the teams meet at noon today at Byrd Stadium.

Virginia was an overwhelming underdog in its season opener against Georgia, but played tough for three quarters before losing, 30-22. Maryland was expected to beat Syracuse. And now, because of the Terrapins' 25-11 loss, no one is thinking about the long-term at College Park.

"Right now," said Coach Joe Krivak, "we're just trying to win a football game."

Navy has a new coach, a new offense and several new players, all of whom will get their first test today when the Midshipmen play host to William and Mary at 2 p.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Howard, which closed 1986 with seven straight victories, opens the season at 1 p.m. against NAIA Newberry (S.C.) College at Greene Stadium.

In other area games, Hampton University will visit Bowie Stadium at 1:30 to take on Bowie State, which will try to end its 31-game losing streak. Catholic, which will have Fred O'Connor as the new coach and Maryland transfer Drew Komlo as the new quarterback, begins the season at 1:30 today against Washington and Jefferson at the CUA Field. The University of the District of Columbia, which is coming off a loss to Hampton, will visit West Virginia State for a 1:30 game at Lakin Field in Institute, W.Va. Montgomery-Rockville, ranked ninth in the preseason junior college poll, opens its season tonight at 7:30 against Potomac State at Stayman Field in Keyser, W.Va.

Maryland has won 15 straight over Virginia and 17 of the last 18 games. Virginia's last victory was in 1971, when the Cavaliers beat the Terrapins, 29-27, in Byrd Stadium.

"I know George {Welsh, the Virginia coach} is telling his kids that they have a chance to beat Maryland for the first time in a long time," Krivak said this week. Clemson is the only team that has a longer winning streak (26 games) against Virginia.

"I'm used to looking at Maryland where we've never stopped them," Welsh said. "We're not going to win if we can't stop them. We have to slow them down, bend but not break like we did against Georgia in the fourth quarter. We have to keep the ball and make some first downs."

The Terrapins defeated the Cavaliers, 42-10, last year in the season finale at Scott Stadium. In that game, Bren Lowery went 71 yards for a touchdown on Maryland's first play. Maryland also scored on its second possession and led, 21-3, at halftime. Lowery finished with 104 yards on 14 carries for his first 100-yard game.

The trouble for Maryland last week was that Lowery and his teammates did not have much room to run. The Terrapins gained 18 yards on 17 carries in the first half against Syracuse. The passing game also was ineffective. Dan Henning was sacked five times, he missed a few passes and his receivers dropped several.

"Henning is the classic dropback passer, even though he's not 6-2 or 6-3," Welsh said of the 6-0 1/2 Henning. "If they give him protection, he'll have a lot better day than he had against Syracuse."

The Cavaliers were leading Georgia, 14-10, at halftime, but faded. "Maybe Georgia cranked things up in the second half last week," Welsh said, "but we can't play second halves like the one we played last week and expect to win."

As he did in the opener, Welsh probably will use two quarterbacks. Senior Scott Secules is the expected starter, but redshirt freshman Shawn Moore probably will see action. Welsh said he hopes it will make it more difficult to prepare to defend against his team.

"We're not intentionally doing it that way," Welsh said, "but Shawn Moore is a real fine athlete and he deserves a chance to play. The only difference {in the offense} is that Moore has a tendency to run more, and scramble a little more and maybe we'll call the option a couple times more frequently when he's in the game."

Secules is more of a dropback passer, and the most potent receiver is John Ford, who caught two touchdown passes from Secules last week.

"Ford may be the best receiver in the conference," said Krivak, who has several good ones of his own. "If there is a guy who runs a better post pattern, I'd like to see him."

Krivak coached under Welsh when Welsh was at Navy, so they are familiar with each other's styles. Maryland running backs coach Tony Whittlesey also had worked on Welsh's Navy staff and was with him at Virginia for the past five years.

The Midshipmen will unveil the wishbone with quarterback John Nobers. A healthy Chuck Smith will be behind him at running back when they face Division I-AA William and Mary. Ironically, William and Mary Coach Jimmye Laycocke, whose team was 9-3 last year, was among the finalists last year for the Navy job that went to Elliot Uzelac.

The Indians are coming off a 49-25 loss to East Tennessee, but Uzelac is trying to convince his team not to put much stock in that result.

"We have very little experience on this team and I'm concerned about how they will react in a game," Uzelac said. "I believe they will react properly. But when you've got a team as young as ours -- even some of seniors didn't play last year -- you have to be concerned. If we come through there, then I think we should be able to play well.

"I would not say that William and Mary opened up with an easy team. I'd say they opened up with a team that in all honesty had better personnel than William and Mary did."

Navy has opened against William and Mary more often than any other team and have a 17-2-1 record.

"I'd like to have more time," Uzelac said, "but we need a game at this point to get better."