Game of the Week
Virginia at North Carolina
TV/Radio: Noon, WJLA-7, WMAR-2, WPLC-FM-94.3
No. 23 Virginia (0-0)
Coach George Welsh begins a quest for his 13th straight season with at least seven victories with a challenging opener. RB Thomas Jones, the Atlantic Coast Conference's top rusher a year ago with 1,303 yards, will carry the offense until new QB Dan Ellis settles in. Ellis completed just six passes last year as a backup to Aaron Brooks. Jones will be running behind an offensive line that is among the best in the conference. T Noel Lamontagne and TE Casey Crawford were named to the all-ACC first team and T Josh Lawson was a freshman all-American last season and C John St. Clair was a preaseason all-ACC this season. The defense, especially the secondary, could be a concern because of injuries. Antwan Harris, Tim Spruill and Dwayne Stukes all have experience, but Stukes was injured for most of last season and also got hurt in spring practice and Harris has never played in more than nine games in a season.
Key Stat: Last season, the Cavaliers were 15th in the nation in rushing, averaging 213.1 yards per game.
Fast Fact: Virginia is 5-13-2 in openers on the road.
North Carolina (0-0)
It would have been tough for QB Ronald Curry to meet the expectations that were piled on his shoulders as a freshman last season, but after a slow start he played well, setting school freshman records for completions, passing yards and touchdown passes. He'll need to have a big game, since the Tar Heels will be playing a lot of inexperienced players. RB Daniel Davis, a freshman and the 1998 Virginia player of the year, will see some action. The cornerback position, which was stung by the early departure of Dre Bly to the NFL, is also filled with freshmen Kevin Knight, Dexter Reed and Derrick Johnson. All in all, North Carolina could have eight true freshmen take the field today, the most since 1989 when the Tar Heels were 1-10. In all just four starters return from last year's defense, which was one of the best in school history.
Key Stat: The Tar Heels have averaged 32.3 points per game vs. Virginia at home since 1992.
Fast Fact: Last season, Coach Carl Torbush was the first in school history to lead a team to a bowl game after starting season 0-3.
OTHER AREA GAMES
No. 10 Georgia Tech (0-0) at Navy (0-0)
Time, TV, Radio: Noon, HTS, WMAL-630, WNAV-1430, WJFK-1300.
1998 Records: Yellow Jackets 10-2; Midshipmen 3-8.
Sidelights: QB Joe Hamilton has raised expectations at Georgia Tech, which has its highest preseason ranking since 1991. Hamilton had 2,166 yards passing and 298 yards rushing last season and has a speedy target in WR Dez White. But Georgia Tech's rush defense gave up 167 yards per game last season and might find Navy's wishbone attack a bit tricky. The Midshipmen were fourth in the nation on the ground last season but won't surprise anyone on offense. The pass defense will be Navy's downfall, unless Coach Charlie Weatherbie's new 3-4 scheme helps keep receivers from getting behind the secondary, which happened a lot last season.
James Madison (0-0) at No. 11 Virginia Tech (0-0)
Time, Radio: 1, WMJS-FM-92.7, WAGE-1200, WDCT-1310.
1998 Records: Dukes 3-8; Hokies 9-3.
Sidelights: With possibly the best defensive lines in the country and an exciting young quarterback, the Hokies are primed to have one of their best seasons. The Dukes shouldn't provide much competition. QB Karl Vick finally gets his chance to play after sitting on the sideline as a redshirt. Vick can scramble, and the Hokies will rely on him and RB Shyrone Stith (1,173 yards last season) to control the ball. The defense, led by DEs Corey Moore and John Engelberger, was seventh in the nation in total defense last season. Moore had a Big East-high 13 sacks last season and Engelberger posted seven. James Madison had its worst season since 1983 last year, but 16 starters return for new coach Mickey Matthews.
Howard (0-0) at Jackson State (0-0)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
1998 records: Bison 7-4; Tigers 7-4.
Sidelights: The Bison begin the post-Ted White era seeking to develop a strong running attack so that new QB Bobby Townsend doesn't have to carry the team. RBs David Johnson (467 yards, five TDs last season) and Jermaine Hutchison (361 yards, four TDs) are the featured backs. The offensive line, with G Mpumi Masimini and T Levar Young, is strong. Jackson State is an offensive power and one of the favorites to win the SWAC. QB Mark Washington set a school record with 26 touchdown passes last season. WR Sylvester Morris caught 62 passes for 1,258 yards, a school record. RB Destry Wright had 1,528 yards rushing, also a school record.
John Carroll at Catholic, 1
Cheyney at Bowie State, 1
Walter Reed Army at Mont.-Rockville, 1:30
OTHER NATIONAL GAMES
No. 16 Notre Dame at No. 7 Michigan
Time, TV: 3:30, WJLA-7, WMAR-2.
1998 Records: Fighting Irish 9-2; Wolverines 10-3.
Sidelights: There's been a lot of huffing and puffing about this game for awhile, most of it coming from the Michigan side. Coach Lloyd Carr was not happy that the Irish scheduled a game (last week's win over Kansas) before coming to the Big House. Plus, the Wolverines are looking for revenge after last year's Notre Dame romp. QBs Tom Brady and Drew Henson will play for the Wolverines, with Brady starting and Henson playing the second quarter. Notre Dame looked sloppy against Kansas but still won, 48-13. QB Jarious Jackson had three interceptions, but the defense looked strong, holding the Jayhawks to just 271 yards. RB Tony Fisher had 111 yards and two touchdowns in his first-ever start last week.
No. 5 Nebraska at Iowa
Time, TV: Noon, pay-per-view.
1998 Records: Cornhuskers 9-4; Hawkeyes 3-8.
Sidelights: Iowa's new coach Kirk Ferentz gets a big challenge in his first game as Hayden Fry's replacement. QB Bobby Newcombe and RB DeAngelo Evans both missed significant time last season because of injuries but are now healthy, which should give a boost to an offense that didn't average 300 yards rushing a game for just the third time in 22 years. Coach Frank Solich's decision to start Newcombe over Eric Crouch apparently didn't sit well with Crouch, who reportedly left the team but came back shortly thereafter. Iowa QB Randy Reiners is suspended for this game for an alcohol violation and WR Kahlil Hill is suspended for the whole season, so Iowa's offense will have some trouble moving the ball against Nebraska's tough defense.
No. 14 Colorado at Colorado State
Time, TV: 7, HTS.
1998 Records: Buffaloes 8-4; Rams 8-4.
Sidelights: Gary Barnett makes his coaching debut at Colorado with a game that is always heated, even though the Buffaloes have won the past eight meetings. Colorado's defense ranked 13th in the nation last season but gets a new 3-4 formation. The Rams return RB Kevin McDougal from a 1998 season when he was slowed by hamstring and shoulder injuries. He'll be running behind an offensive line that returns just two starters. Clark Haggins will be on Colorado QB Mike Moschetti often. Haggins needs four sacks to break the school's all-time record.
South Carolina at No. 24 North Carolina State
Time: 7:30, ESPN.
1998 Records: Wolfpack 7-5; Gamecocks 1-10.
Sidelights: Lou Holtz gets his first real look at his team against North Carolina State, which blocked three punts in last week's upset of Texas. The Gamecocks have a new defense, employing lots of zone and safety blitzes, which basically will dare N.C. State QB Jamie Barnette to throw. The offense has been hit hard by injuries, especially on the line. The Wolfpack's three blocked punts accounted for 16 points against Texas, which was big since N.C. State's offense was surprisingly stagnant.
Noon: Akron at Penn State (pay-per-view)
Noon: Baylor at Boston College (ESPN)
Noon: Murray State at Wisconsin (pay-per-view)
Noon: Nebraska at Iowa (pay-per-view)
Noon: Ohio at Minnesota (pay-per-view)
Noon: Stanford at Texas (pay-per-view)
12:30 p.m.: Alabama at Vanderbilt (pay-per-view)
3 p.m.: East Carolina vs. West Virginia in Charlotte (ESPN2)
6 p.m.: Purdue at Central Florida (pay-per-view)
7 p.m.: Colorado vs. Colorado State (HTS)
7 p.m.: Florida A&M at Miami (Fla.) (pay-per-view)
7 p.m.: Purdue at Central Florida (pay-per-view)
7 p.m.: Wyoming at Tennessee (ESPN2)
9 p.m.: South Florida at San Diego State (pay-per-view)
1 p.m.: John Carroll at Catholic (WCUA-FM-97.5)
Baylor at Boston College, noon
Georgia Tech at Navy, noon
Akron at Penn St., noon
New Hampshire at Rhode Island, noon
Morgan St. at Bucknell, 12:30
American International at Northeastern, 12:30
Sacred Heart at Assumption, 1
Robert Morris at Buffalo St., 1
Albany, N.Y. at Cent. Connecticut St., 1
Maine at Colgate, 1
St. Francis, Pa. at La Salle, 1
Monmouth, N.J. at Towson, 1
Bowling Green at Pittsburgh, 3:30
Connecticut at Hofstra, 6:30
Alabama at Vanderbilt, 12:30
James Madison at Virginia Tech, 1
Delaware St. at Hampton, 1:30
Louisville at Kentucky, 1:30
Jacksonville at Lenoir-Rhyne, 2
West Virginia vs. East Carolina at Charlotte, 3
Purdue at Cent. Florida, 6
Marshall at Clemson, 6
W. Michigan at Florida, 6
Utah St. at Georgia, 6
Virginia St. at Norfolk St., 6:30
Appalachian St. at Auburn, 7
Savannah St. vs. Bethune-Cookman at Jacksonville, Fla., 7
Elon at Furman, 7
Fayetteville St. at Georgia Southern, 7
Alabama A&M at Jacksonville St., 7
Florida A&M at Miami, 7
Middle Tennessee at Mississippi St., 7
VMI at Richmond, 7
Charleston Southern at S. Carolina St., 7
Wyoming at Tennessee, 7
Howard at Jackson St., 7:30
Virginia Union at Liberty, 7:30
South Carolina at N.C. State, 7:30
Northwestern St. at Southern U., 7:30
San Jose St. at LSU, 8
Texas A&M vs. Louisiana Tech at Shreveport, La., 8
N. Iowa at McNeese St., 8
Mississippi at Memphis, 8
Nicholls St. at NE Louisiana, 8
Nebraska at Iowa, noon
Ohio at Minnesota, noon
Murray St. at Wisconsin, noon
Miami, Ohio at Northwestern, 12:30
Butler at Albion, 1
St. Francis, Ind. at Valparaiso, 1
Arkansas St. at Illinois, 3:30
Notre Dame at Michigan, 3:30
UAB at Missouri, 3:30
Alcorn St. vs. Grambling St. at Chicago, 7
Kent at Cincinnati, 7
McKendree at Dayton, 7
Ball St. at Indiana, 7
Drake at Morningside, 7
Stanford at Texas, noon
SW Missouri St. at Tulsa, 7
MVSU at Ark.-Pine Bluff, 8
Rice at Houston, 8
SW Louisiana at Oklahoma St., 8
Arkansas at SMU, 8
Abilene Christian at Stephen F. Austin, 8
Prairie View at Texas Southern, 8
New Mexico at UTEP, 9
Villanova at Air Force, 2
Chadron St. at Montana St., 2:30
South Dakota at Montana, 3
Oregon St. at Nevada, 4
Utah at Washington St., 4
Rutgers at California, 5:30
W. Oregon at CS Northridge, 6
Colorado St. at Colorado, 7
E. Oregon at Idaho St., 8:30
San Diego at Azusa Pacific, 9
Fort Lewis at S. Utah, 9
St. Mary's, Cal. at Sacramento St., 9
South Florida at San Diego St., 9
Boise St. at UCLA, 9
Portland St. at Fresno St., 10
Southern Cal at Hawaii, Mid