Howard University will try to break a two-game losing streak at Towson State tonight at 7, but concerns will be much deeper than just one game for the winless Tigers.

Talk is rampant around the suburban Baltimore campus that the 22-year-old football program will be eliminated following this season. The University Senate is reportedly considering several budget options concerning football and other sports, and some of the options do not include funding for football in 1991-92.

A source close to the athletic department said the school's Intercollegiate Athletic Committee is prepared to recommend that the program be suspended for next year and then reevaluated.

"It is as good as gone," the source said yesterday. "From what I understand, it sits decided."

Towson State faces a significant deficit in its athletic budget this season. Although the basketball team has done well on the court -- an NCAA tournament berth last season -- and at the gate, the football team's performance has hurt ticket sales recently. A crowd of about 3,000 is expected tonight at 5,000-seat Minnegan Stadium.

The Towson players reportedly are planning to gain attention to their hopes of salvaging the program with demonstrations tonight and at next week's homecoming game against New Haven (Conn.). There will be an open meeting Thursday at the school's student union in another attempt to establish support.

A successful Division III program until 1978 and afterward equally successful in Division II, the Tigers moved to Division I-AA in 1987. But since the departure of running back Dave Meggett to the New York Giants following the 1988 season, Towson State is 2-15, 0-7 this season.

Talk of eliminating football at Towson has increased. In the midst of preparing for Howard this week, football players solicited petitions in support for the program, hoping to sway a scheduled Nov. 5 meeting of the Senate.

Phil Albert, in his 19th year as Towson State's coach, points to several reasons for the team's recent problems. Six players had knee surgery this season.

"This season hasn't been any fun because of our record, but in the winter, we thought there was some possibility we could improve," he said. "We haven't done anything financially to upgrade the program like the move {to I-AA} required."

Howard's program seems headed in a much different direction, despite its second straight loss, 33-12, last week to North Carolina A&T. Major mistakes led to Howard's downfall, but they were sprinkled among surprisingly satisfying performances by the offense and defense.

The loss to A&T was less one-sided than the score indicated because Howard (5-2) allowed touchdowns off a fumble in the end zone and a blocked field-goal attempt, two A&T points on a return of a blocked conversion kick and an A&T touchdown two plays after an interception return to the Howard 1.

"It was the weirdest game I have ever seen," said Howard Coach Steve Wilson. "Offensively, we moved the ball -- we ended up with 350 yards in total offense. . . . Take out four plays and it is a different football game. The sad thing is you can't do that. We made some crucial mistakes and paid for every one of them."

The Bison defense allowed A&T only 215 yards, improving from No. 3 in Division I-AA to No. 1. Last year, Howard led I-AA in total defense. Howard's offense is averaging 24.4 points after producing 18.6 per game in last year's 8-3 season.

The numbers seem to indicate Howard's program is progressing in Wilson's second season. However, it is unlikely the Bison will earn an at-large bid to the I-AA playoffs, regardless of how they do in their final four games.

The Bison will make changes this week on kick protection. Wilson likely will use beefy members of his defensive line to help solidify the interior blocking.

Despite turnovers (3.4 per game), Wilson has seen enough improvement in the offense to remain committed to expanding it. The past few weeks, Howard has often used the shotgun and formations with four or five wide receivers.

One reason Wilson decided he could use the packages of receivers has been the emergence of redshirt sophomore George Humes.

A quarterback at Killian High School in Miami, he was recruited as a 6-foot-2, 187-pound wide receiver. But last season Wilson moved him back to quarterback, where he started four games.

"I was done with that by the end of last season," Humes said of the switch. "When Coach Wilson said that he was recruiting some quarterbacks, I was the happiest man on campus."

Humes began this season last on the depth chart at Howard's deepest single position. But he is now tied with running back Robert Taylor for the team lead with 16 receptions.

Humes learned a lesson last week when he got a hard elbow to the jaw on a 20-yard gain. "My jaw has been pretty sore," he said.