As members of the college football media clear out their notebooks this week, the national spotlight should focus squarely on a pair of familiar targets -- Notre Dame's Tim Brown and Michigan State's Lorenzo White -- and a pair of unlikelies -- Howard and Bowie State.

Were the voting for the Heisman Trophy the culmination of a political campaign (as if it isn't already), the committee to elect Brown might be preparing to move in for the kill while the committee to elect White might be preparing to move out of the race.

Brown, a senior flanker, got the ninth-ranked Fighting Irish (2-0) off to a breathtaking start Saturday night by returning punts 71 and 66 yards for touchdowns in the first quarter of their 31-8 victory over White and the 17th-ranked Spartans in South Bend, Ind.

Brown had a school record 275 all-purpose yards: 150 on six punt returns, 57 on two kickoff returns, 72 on four pass receptions and minus-4 on one rushing attempt.

"If there was someone who played a better game than Tim Brown," said Michigan State Coach George Perles, "I'm glad we weren't on the same field with him."

White, a running back who has proven capable of almost single-handedly dominating games, was the dominated this time. He rushed for just 51 yards on 19 carries against a defense that recorded eight sacks, a safety and missed a shutout by six seconds. White's rushing total after two games is 161 yards on 41 carries.

With convincing victories over Michigan and Michigan State (1-1) to start the season, Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz, whose team started last season with losses to the Wolverines and the Spartans, already is being asked greatness questions.

"They're a great group of guys," Holtz said.

"We've played two football games and had some good things happen to us," he said. "The great teams are classified on Jan. 1, or usually on Jan. 2, when everybody votes."

The bad teams, however, are rarely classified on a particular date. After all, it takes time for a team to become certifiably horrible.

Bowie State had had that kind of time -- and then some. Going into their game Saturday against Cheyney State (2-1) at Cheyney, Pa., the Bulldogs were the much-chagrined owners of a 32-game losing streak, the nation's longest.

Today that distinction belongs to Columbia.

Showing a flair for the dramatic, the Bulldogs (1-2) defeated Cheyney, 16-12, on Tony Atwater's one-yard touchdown run with 20 seconds to play. (The Lions, meantime, were shellacked, 35-0, by Harvard.)

Howard (2-0, 1-0 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) also showed some flair Saturday night against Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach, Fla. But so did the Wildcats. The result was a 58-51 Howard victory in which the Bison set a school record for total offense with 740 yards, but allowed Bethune-Cookman (1-2, 1-1) to set an NCAA Division I-AA record for yards gained by a losing team with 678. (The teams combined to set the I-AA record for combined total offense, with 1,418 yards.)

"I'm a little tired, a little hoarse," said Howard Coach Willie Jeffries, who spent 25 minutes after the game chewing out his team for its defensive performance and its 17 penalties for 185 yards. "It was the darndest game I've been in in 27 years of coaching. I couldn't believe it, the way the teams were going up and down the field. When I woke this {Sunday} morning, I thought I had been dreaming, but it was true."

Maryland defensive coordinator Greg Williams didn't need to wait until yesterday morning to know that the Terrapins' 25-20 win over West Virginia was true. When J.B. Brown intercepted Mike Timko's desperation pass with 11 seconds left in the game, Williams bounded out of the press box (from where he calls plays). His fists were pumping and he was hooting and hollering.

His defense had allowed 242 yards rushing (168 by Anthony Brown), but only 42 yards passing and just six points, which was especially important given that West Virginia (1-2) got seven on the opening kickoff and seven more on a first-play interception return.

"We've gotten a little better every week," said Williams, whose unit might face North Carolina State (0-3, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) this week without starting nose guard Bob Arnold (strained knee ligaments). "Finally, the secondary didn't give up a bomb. The kids have been playing this defense for three games now. We put in some blitzes against the run, we created some long-yardage situations and we only gave up six points.

"We needed to get better on defense and we did. The kids I got back there {secondary} are young and it's hard. . . . Next year, we'll be a little deeper, but now we've got to sink or swim with them."

Navy Coach Elliot Uzelac is faced with a similar situation with his whole team. And right now the Midshipmen (0-2) are sinking. Against Lehigh (2-0), they piled up 277 yards rushing and 371 yards of total offense, but lost, 24-9.

The reasons? Nine fumbles, of which Navy lost two; one interception; two missed field goals; one botched field goal; five Lehigh runs of 11 yards or longer; four Lehigh passes of 16 yards or more.

"After looking at the films, I honestly feel that we played well at times," Uzelac said. "But at times, we just disintegrated."

Navy has lost nine straight games, tying for the second-longest losing streak in school history. (The longest is 13 games, in 1947 and '48.) They have lost their last four games to Division I-AA opponents and, this Saturday, against North Carolina, begin a stretch during which they will play six of seven games against I-A teams.

For Virginia (1-2, 0-1 ACC), life begins to get a little easier. After losses to Georgia and Maryland, the Cavaliers came back with a 14-13 "state championship" victory over Virginia Tech (0-2) in which they stopped a two-point conversion attempt with 1:24 to play. The Cavaliers host Duke (3-0, 0-0) this week and VMI next week.