The local college football scene takes on an Old West flavor today as Virginia tries to remain the area's top gun while two other teams -- Maryland and Navy -- attempt to make names for themselves.

The Cavaliers, who vaulted into national prominence with a 20-7 victory over Clemson last week, will try to avoid a letdown at home against Navy, which defeated Richmond by 28-17 in the debut of Coach George Chaump. Maryland, coming off a pair of exciting, last-minute victories, might also get top-20 consideration with a victory over the 16th-ranked Tigers in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.

Virginia (2-0, 1-0 ACC) moved up to No. 11 in the Associated Press poll and is a solid favorite against the Midshipmen, as well as its eight other opponents. Last season the Cavaliers were 8-0 against the teams now left on their schedule.

That has already triggered talk in Charlottesville of a possible national championship, an idea that is no longer so outlandish, particularly after the dismantling of perennial power Clemson. It was Virginia's first triumph in the 35-year, 30-game series between the schools.

"This is the first time we've had a win like this," said George Welsh, who coached Navy for nine years before leaving for Virginia in 1982. "The game had such a long buildup; the team responded pretty well."

So did the Cavaliers' fans, who tore down the goal posts at Scott Stadium. One of the standards was placed next to a statue of school founder Thomas Jefferson, other remnants have turned up as centerpieces in fraternity houses and freshman dormitories.

It cost the athletic department $8,000 to replace the goal posts -- perhaps a small price to pay in the face of future revenue. The Cavaliers set an attendance record of 46,800 against Clemson, and yesterday afternoon only 1,500 seats remained for today's game. The Nov. 3 home game against Georgia Tech already is sold out.

"If there's a lot of enthusiasm and we're selling the stadium out all the time, that's all good," Welsh said. "But if {the players} start counting victories or thinking 'Oh wow, we could be undefeated,' . . . then it's detrimental."

Navy is on an upbeat note after rolling up 451 yards against the Spiders. Quarterback Alton Grizzard completed 17 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns -- the most completions and yardage for the Midshipmen in 36 games.

"He proved himself more and more in this game," Chaump said. "He has that one great quality all good quarterbacks need -- a fierce competitiveness with an intense desire to do his best and win."

Maryland Coach Joe Krivak wasn't thinking of being undefeated at the start of the season. Looking at the early portion of his schedule that includes five consecutive bowl teams, Krivak saw only a chance for the Terrapins to make a name for themselves.

That process began in earnest last Saturday with a 14-10 upset in Morgantown over West Virginia, at the time ranked No. 25. Now comes Clemson, still a formidable opponent despite its loss last week.

"They're the team you have to beat," said assistant coach Tony Whittlesey. "Duke beat them last year and they shared the conference championship, and Virginia beat them last week and now they're favored to win it this year. When Maryland beat them, {the Terrapins} won the crown too."

The Terrapins haven't gone 3-0 since 1986. They have an impressive offense (376 yards per game) and a defense that has yielded 23 total points and held its foes 82 percent of the time on third down. Nevertheless, Krivak has been surprisingly subdued this week.

"Football coaches are a miserable lot, we ignore our successes," said Whittlesey. "Every time something good happens, we raise our standards; when it's bad we dwell on it. It's a 'next week' profession, so you never get a chance to enjoy things."

Part of Krivak's concern today is that Maryland is facing its most talented opponent of the year while having to deal with injury for the first time. Safety Ron Reagan will miss the game with a sprained right ankle; perhaps an even bigger problem is the loss of guard Ron Staffileno with a subluxation of the right shoulder.

"I think we'll have to play very, very well, not have any turnovers, eliminate some of the other mistakes we've made and get a solid kicking game," Krivak said. "But I still believe that we can win this game, no doubt about it."