Virginia Tech at Wake Forest
No Letup: In the past seasons, Virginia Tech has followed significant victories -- over No. 14 LSU, No. 16 Marshall and No. 19 Texas A&M in 2002, and over No. 2 Miami last year -- with late-season slumps. Wake Forest's two losses have been on the road in overtime, 37-30 to Clemson in the season opener and 27-21 to North Carolina State last week.
Pop a Long One: Quarterback Bryan Randall has missed on several deep passes the past two weeks, including an overthrow of a very open David Clowney last week inside the West Virginia 10-yard line. Earlier in that game, Randall threw from the Tech 13-yard line toward Clowney, who had broken free by a step down the middle; the ball, however, was underthrown and intercepted near midfield.
No Picks: Randall has thrown five touchdown passes this season, but also six interceptions. Wake Forest has eight interceptions for the season, which ranks 12th nationally. Two of the interceptions, against North Carolina A&T and N.C. State, were returned for touchdowns. Both were by senior cornerback Marcus McGruder.
Premier Punters: Even though he has one dreadful effort in each of his past two games, Tech's Vinnie Burns has excelled in distance and accuracy for four years. Wake Forest junior Ryan Plackmeier is the active career leader among NCAA punters with a 45-yard average.
Stat-O-Matic: The Hokies have won each of their most recent five trips to Wake Forest, the last in 1984. . . . Safety Vincent Fuller has intercepted a pass in each of his past three games. . . . Freshman Eddie Royal (Westfield) leads the Hokies in receptions (12) and all-purpose yards (457). . . . Twenty-one of Wake's 41 games under Coach Jim Grobe have been decided by a touchdown or less. . . . In five games, Wake has had three players rush for at least 100 yards and three players catch passes for at least 100 yards.
-- Ken Denlinger
Charleston Southern at Howard
Colbert Coming Back: Senior tailback Jay Colbert (Gaithersburg), who missed all of last season after breaking his wrist during the preseason, is returning to form after struggling early. In the Bison's 53-7 win over Savannah State two weeks ago, Colbert ran for 118 yards and one touchdown and returned a punt 72 yards for a score. Sophomore Antoine Rutherford ran for 135 yards in that game, and he and Colbert became the first Howard players to run for 100 yards each in the same game since Lee DeBose and Harvey Reed in 1987.
Buc-ing Their Past: Before Coach Jay Mills quit as Harvard's offensive coordinator two years ago to take over the Charleston Southern program, the Buccaneers were one of the worst programs in Division I-AA. The Bucs finished 1-11 last season and they've won only four games in their previous four seasons combined. But the Bucs are 3-1 after scoring 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter of a 25-24 win over Virginia Military Institute last week. Mills, a former assistant at Notre Dame and Boise State, has installed a high-powered passing game; Collin Drafts has thrown for 898 yards and seven touchdowns in four games.
Welcome Addition: Howard's passing game has improved since junior college transfer Thyron Lewis joined the team. Lewis, from Los Angeles Harbor Community College, didn't play in the Bison's first two games while his transfer documents were being approved. But against Savannah State, Lewis caught touchdown passes of 50 and 33 yards. "What he brings more than anything else is experience," Howard Coach Ray Petty said.
Virginia Military Institute at Georgetown
Opportunistic Defense: While Georgetown's offense has played woefully, the team's defense has played surprisingly well. In last week's 35-19 loss to Bucknell, the Hoyas (1-4, 0-3 Patriot League) forced eight fumbles, recovered six and scored 12 points on two interception returns for touchdowns. Georgetown's defense has forced 15 turnovers, with cornerback Mikey Blainefield and safety Maurice Banks intercepting two passes each, and linebacker Christopher Paulus recovering three fumbles.
Containing Mizzer: The Hoyas will have to slow down Keydets tailback Sean Mizzer (Calvert High), who ran for 127 yards in last week's 25-24 loss to Charleston Southern. The performance put Mizzer over 2,000 career yards at VMI. He's averaging 64 yards in five games this season. It also was the 11th 100-yard game of his career.
Back to Crawford: Trying to end a four-game losing streak, Georgetown Coach Bob Benson is changing quarterbacks again. Senior Andrew Crawford will start against winless VMI, replacing sophomore Keith Allan, who started the previous four games. Allan completed only 34.7 percent of his passes for 147 yards and threw six interceptions in four games.
-- Mark Schlabach