Syracuse at Virginia Tech

Time, TV/Radio: 6 p.m., ESPN, WMJS-FM-97.3

No. 16 Syracuse (5-1, 2-0)

After losing QB Donovan McNabb to the NFL, most observers expected a down year for the Orangemen but that hasn't been the case, thanks to a better-than-average defense. The linebackers and defensive backs are that unit's strength, and both positions will be helped by the return of LB Vernon Banks and CB David Byrd from injuries. LBs Morlon Greenwood and Keith Bullock lead the team with 66 and 61 tackles, respectively, and will be the key to stopping Virginia Tech QB Michael Vick and RB Shyrone Stith. The offense, while sluggish at times, has done enough to keep the Orangemen ahead, but it hasn't faced a defense like Virginia Tech's. Plus, the Orangemen haven't had much success scoring in their past three games at Lane Stadium, averaging about 11 points. Watch for Syracuse to pull out a trick play early to try to silence the raucous Virginia Tech crowd.

Key Stat: The Orangemen lead the Big East Conference with nine interceptions.

Fast Fact: PK Nate Trout has at least one point in the 43 games in which he has played.

No. 4 Virginia Tech (5-0, 1-0)

Respect and revenge are on the Hokies' minds. They believe they belong among the nation's elite, and a win tonight on national television would help prove that. Virginia Tech also has strong memories of last season's game, which the Orangemen won on the final play. But the Hokies had only 152 yards in that game. Don't expect that to happen tonight. Vick exploded against Rutgers last week, accouting for five touchdowns in the first half. Since the Orangemen are so good at defending the pass, look for Vick and Stith to keep the ball on the ground. Virginia Tech's vaunted defense slipped a bit against Rutgers last week, allowing two long drives for touchdowns in the first quarter and giving up a season-high 327 yards. A better performance will be needed against the Orangemen's complex option offense.

Key Stat: DE Corey Moore has a sack in seven straight games.

Fast Fact: The Hokies rank first in

the Big East in 13 statistical

categories.

Game

of the Week

AREA

OTHER AREA GAMES

Clemson at Maryland

Time: 1 p.m.

Radio: WTEM-980, WBAL-1090, WFMD-930.

Records: Tigers 2-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference; Terrapins 4-1, 1-1.

Data: Maryland's next three games, all at home, will be crucial to its bowl hopes. The Terrapins have lost six straight to Clemson, but the Tigers haven't won a road game since the 1997 season. Special teams, apart from the punting game, and defense have been the Terrapins' strong points. Maryland leads the nation in kickoff returns, averaging 41.1 yards. Junior CB Lewis Sanders has an interception in every game this season, and the team has a plus-8 turnover margin. Clemson Coach Tommy Bowden's pass-oriented offense has had some success, with WRs Rod Gardner, Brian Wofford and Mal Lawyer each among the top 10 in the ACC in receptions per game.

Virginia at North Carolina State

Time, TV: 3:30 p.m., WJLA-7, WMAR-2.

Radio: WPLC-FM-94.3.

Records: Cavaliers 3-3, 2-2 ACC; Wolfpack 4-2, 1-2.

Data: The Cavaliers are reeling after two straight losses. RB Thomas Jones is fourth in the nation in rushing at 148 yards per game, but the offense is relying too much on him. QB Dan Ellis's longest pass last week in a loss to Duke was 13 yards. WR Kevin Coffey started the season with a 101-yard receiving performance against North Carolina, but has just eight catches in the past four games. North Carolina State's offense, expected to be strong this season, finally got on track last week in a win over Clemson. QB Jamie Barnette threw four touchdown passes and the offense gained 350 yards, 130 above its average. RB Rahshon Spikes helped open Clemson's defense with 104 yards rushing. However, the Wolfpack remains last in the ACC in offense at 243.7 yards per game.

Towson at Howard

Time: 1 p.m.

Records: Tigers 4-2; Bison 2-3.

Data: After giving up 280 yards passing in a loss to Florida A&M last week, the Bison face another pass-oriented offense. Towson QB Joe Lee (Warren County) leads Division I-AA in passing yards and completions, and WR Jamal White leads Division I-AA with 758 receiving yards and is 10th in the nation with 6.8 receptions per game. But the Tigers are committing three turnovers per game. Howard QBs Roy Anderson and Donald Clark probably will share playing time, replacing the injured Bobby Townsend (sprained foot). FS Ricky Crestwell (Potomac, Md., High) leads Division I-AA with five interceptions and has returned two for touchdowns.

Davidson at Georgetown, noon

Methodist at Catholic, 1

Bowie State at Elizabeth City State, 1:30

NATIONAL GAMES

No. 18 Ohio State at No. 2 Penn State

Time, TV: Noon, WJLA-7, WMAR-2.

Records: Buckeyes 4-2, 1-1 Big Ten; Nittany Lions 6-0, 2-0.

Data: Both coaches have used some odd motivational tools while preparing for this game. Ohio State Coach John Cooper said that if both teams play equally well, the Buckeyes have no chance of winning, adding that it would take a "fanatical effort" for Ohio State to win. Penn State Coach Joe Paterno, who can tie Amos Alonzo Stagg for third place all-time at 314 career victories, barred nearly all of his players from talking to the media. Cooper must be worried about a defense that is allowing almost 400 yards a game despite the presence of LB Na'il Diggs (53 tackles). Penn State likes to put games away early; the Nittany Lions have outscored opponents 59-3 in the first quarter.

No. 5 Michigan State at No. 20 Purdue

Time, TV: 3:30, pay-per-view.

Records: Spartans 6-0, 3-0 Big Ten; Boilermakers 4-2, 1-2.

Data: Purdue QB Drew Brees received all the attention early in the season, but has only one touchdown pass in the Boilermakers' last two games, losses to Michigan and Ohio State. The spotlight has shifted to Michigan State, the nation's most surprising team. QB Bill Burke and 6-foot-6 WR Plaxico Burress might be the nation's top passing combination. Burke had 400 yards passing last week, with 255 going to Burress in a huge win over Michigan. The defense, which allows just 36.7 yards rushing per game, is led by LB Julian Peterson (Crossland), who has seven sacks and 17 tackles for losses.

No. 11 Alabama at No. 22 Mississippi

Time, TV: 3:30, WUSA-9, WJZ-13.

Records: Crimson Tide 4-1, 3-0 Southeastern Conference; Rebels 5-1, 2-1.

Data: Both teams have their eyes on the SEC West Division title. Alabama RB Shaun Alexander is improving his case for the Heisman Trophy. He has 14 touchdowns and is averaging 203 total yards per game. Alexander's pass-catching skills often are overlooked, but he has 208 yards receiving this year. Mississippi RB Joe Gunn also likes to catch the ball, averaging 24 yards per reception. The Rebels are allowing just 45 rushing yards per game (second in the nation), but they haven't faced a running back like Alexander yet. Mississippi DT Kendrick Clancy leads the team with six sacks.

on tv

Noon: Georgia Tech at Duke (WUSA-9, WUTB-24).

Noon: Hampton at Norfolk State (HTS).

Noon: Indiana at Wisconsin (ESPN).

Noon: Minnesota at Illinois (ESPN2).

Noon: Iowa at Northwestern (pay-per-view).

12:30 p.m.: LSU at Kentucky (pay-per-view).

2:30 p.m.: Southern Cal at Notre Dame (WRC-4, WBAL-11).

3 p.m.: San Diego State at Colorado State (pay-per-view).

3:30 p.m.: UAB at Cincinnati (HTS).

3:30 p.m.: Colorado at Texas Tech (pay-per-view).

3:30 p.m.: California at UCLA (pay-per-view).

5 p.m.: Pittsburgh at Boston College (ESPN2).

7 p.m.: Arizona State at Washington (pay-per-view).

7 p.m.: Tulsa at TCU (pay-per-view).

8 p.m.: Utah at Air Force (ESPN2).

8 p.m.: BYU at New Mexico (pay-per-view).

on RADIO

1 p.m.: James Madison at William & Mary (WDCT-1310, WABS-780).

1 p.m.: Methodist at Catholic (WCUA-FM-97.5).

2:30 p.m.: Southern Cal at Notre Dame (WGAY-1260).

EAST

Cornell at Colgate, noon

Richmond at Hofstra, noon

Fairfield at Holy Cross, noon

Duquesne at Bucknell, 12:30

New Hampshire

at Northeastern, 12:30

Rhode Island at Brown, 1

Lehigh at Delaware, 1

Harvard at Fordham, 1

Massachusetts at Maine, 1

LaSalle at Marist, 1

Albany, N.Y., at Mass.-Lowell, 1

Lafayette at Princeton, 1

Iona at Siena, 1

Monmouth, N.J., at St. Francis, Pa., 1

St. Peter's at St. John's, N.Y., 1

Cent. Connecticut St. at Wagner, 1

Rutgers at West Virginia, 1

Dartmouth at Yale, 1

Canisius at Alfred, 1:30

Penn at Columbia, 1:30

Villanova at Connecticut, 1:30

Sacred Heart at Robert Morris, 1:30

SOUTH

Georgia Southern

at Appalachian St., 12:30

Greensboro at Jacksonville, 1

Chattanooga at VMI, 1

Austin Peay

at Charleston Southern, 1:30

Valparaiso at Morehead St., 1:30

Houston at North Carolina, 1:30

Liberty at East Tennessee St., 2

Elon at Samford, 2

W. Kentucky at Tennessee Tech, 2

Furman at The Citadel, 2

Tuskegee at Alabama A&M, 2:30

Miss. Valley State at Albany St., 2:30

McNeese St. at Jacksonville St., 3

Tennessee State at Tenn.-Martin, 3

Louisiana-Lafayette at Tulane, 3:30

Middle Tennessee at Louisiana Tech, 4

E. Illinois at Murray St., 4

Nicholls St. at Cent. Florida, 6

Wofford at W. Carolina, 6

North Carolina A&T at Morgan State, 7

Illinois St. at South Florida, 7

Southern U. at Jackson St., 7:30

Wyoming at Louisiana-Monroe, 8

Louisville at Memphis, 8

MIDWEST

Bowling Green at Akron, noon

Minnesota at Illinois, noon

N. Illinois at Cent. Michigan, 1

Dayton at Drake, 1

Miami, Ohio, at Kent, 2

S. Illinois at W. Illinois, 2

SE Missouri at Indiana St., 2:30

Northern Iowa

at SW Missouri St., 2:30

Cal Poly-SLO at Youngstown St., 4

Ohio at E. Michigan, 6

Buffalo at W. Michigan, 6

Iowa St. at Missouri, 7

SOUTHWEST

Alabama State at Ark.-Pine Bluff, 3

San Jose St. at Rice, 3

Stephen F. Austin

at Sam Houston St., 3

Boise St. at North Texas, 3:30

Troy St. at SW Texas, 4

Idaho at Arkansas St., 5

South Carolina at Arkansas, 7

Fresno St. at SMU, 7

Alcorn St. at Texas Southern, 8

FAR WEST

UC Davis at St. Mary's, Calif., 4

Oregon St. at Stanford, 5

Sacramento St. at CS Northridge, 6

Idaho St. at E. Washington, 6

Montana at N. Arizona, 6

S. Utah at Weber St., 8

UTEP at Arizona, 9:15

Butler at San Diego, 10

Montana St. at Portland St., 10:15

Where the Top 25 Play

TeamRecordOpponentTimeComment 1 Florida State6-0vs. Wake Forest7Last loss to Demon Deacons was in 1973. 2 Penn State6-0vs. Ohio StatenoonFirst of four games against ranked teams in next six weeks. 3 Nebraska6-0idle -- Visits No. 19 Texas next week. 4 Virginia Tech5-0vs. Syracuse6Has not opened season with six straight wins since 1967. 5 Michigan State6-0at Purdue3:30Leads nation in rushing defense at 36.7 yards per game. 6 Tennessee4-1idle -- Visits No. 11 Alabama next week. 7 Florida5-1at Auburn9Maligned defense allowed 165 yards last week at LSU. 8 Georgia Tech4-1at DukenoonHas won 17 of past 21 games; leads nation in total offense. 9 Kansas State5-0vs. Utah State2WR Quincy Morgan had five catches for 192 yards last week.10 Michigan5-1idle -- Hosts Illinois next week.11 Alabama4-1at Mississippi3:30Has scored on 19 of 21 drives inside opponents' 20.12 Mississippi St.6-0idle -- Hosts Louisiana State next week.13 Texas A&M4-1vs. Kansas12:30Needed late TD to defeat Jayhawks, 24-21, last season.14 Georgia4-1at Vanderbilt2QB Quincy Carter has no INTs in 163 attempts this year.15 Marshall6-0idle -- Defeated Toledo, 38-13, Thursday; plays Buffalo next week.16 Syracuse5-1at Virginia Tech6DE Duke Pettijohn had four sacks last week vs. Pittsburgh.17 Wisconsin4-2vs. IndiananoonSenior K Vitaly Pisetsky has made nine consecutive FGs.18 Ohio State4-2at Penn Statenoon4-2 vs. Nittany Lions since they joined the Big Ten.19 Texas5-2idle -- Hosts No. 3 Nebraska next week.20 Purdue4-2vs. Michigan State3:30RB Montrell Lowe had 153 yards rushing last week.21 BYU4-1at New Mexico8First game out of the state of Utah this season.22 Mississippi5-1vs. Alabama3:30Looking for first four-game win streak since 1992.23 East Carolina5-1idle -- Hosts Tulane next week.24 Miami2-3idle -- Game with Temple postponed because of hurricane.25 So. Mississippi3-2vs. Army3RB Derrick Nix had 171 yards rushing last week.