Florida A&M at Virginia Tech

Priority One: Tech Coach Frank Beamer would not address questions about backups gaining more playing time against the Rattlers (2-4), who lost to Temple by 31 points, to Illinois by 39 and to Nicholls State by 17. "Our first deal," he said, "is to win the football game."

Find End Zone: The Hokies have scored just three touchdowns on offense the last three games. Last week, they lost fumbles at the Wake Forest 18- and 1-yard lines. But seven players have caught touchdown passes this season. More minutes should go to backup quarterback Sean Glennon (Westfield), who has completed all four of his passes and thrown for two touchdowns, all against Western Michigan.

Snap Judgments: Center Will Montgomery's snaps in shotgun formation to quarterback Bryan Randall frequently have been too high, resulting in Randall briefly losing his concentration by having to divert his eyes from the defenses. Said Beamer, "We're not getting into the flow we'd like."

Kickoff Flight: Freshman Jared Develli (Park View) lately has not been routinely booming his kickoffs into the end zone. They have gotten to around the goal line, and on too low a trajectory to suit Beamer, who serves as the kicking coach and says: "It's just a fact that if the coverage team is at the 40 [when] the guy catches it at the goal line the best you can hope is [to tackle him] about the 25, 26, or 27. That's the best you can hope for."

Stats Line: Tech has won 18 straight nonconference home games. . . . Nine Tech players have at least one reception of at least 20 yards. . . . The Hokies have gained more yards passing than rushing, 1,074-984. The last time that happened for a full season was 1994. . . . The Rattlers have allowed an average of five yards per rush and an average of 229.2 rushing yards. . . . A&M's wide receivers are averaging 10.3 yards per catch, and Beamer said, "If you're not playing well, they can score in a hurry."

A Royal Pain: Eddie Royal (Westfield) will miss today's game because of an illness. David Clowney will start in Royal's place at flanker. Josh Hyman and Mike Imoh (Robinson) will return kicks. Richard Johnson will return punts.

-- Ken Denlinger

Howard vs. Morgan State

Hunting for Bear: Howard, which trails Bethune-Cookman by 11/2 games for first place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, needs to end a two-game losing streak to Morgan State to remain in the title hunt. The Bison led the Bears 12-3 in last year's game in Baltimore, but Morgan State scored 30 unanswered points in a 33-12 victory.

Pulling the Curtain on "The Big Show": Howard, ranked 19th in Division I-AA in pass-efficiency defense, will have its hands full with Morgan State quarterback Bradshaw "The Big Show" Littlejohn, who has already thrown for 1,327 yards and eight touchdowns, while running for 400 yards and 10 scores. He ranks seventh in Division I-AA in scoring (10 points per game) and 10th in total offense (287.8 yards per game). The Bears are averaging 412.3 yards and 34 points.

Hibernating Bears: Howard's offense, which has hit its stride in its past two games (running for 200 yards or more in easy victories over Savannah State and Charleston Southern), could have a big day against the Bears, who rank 115th out of 118 Division I-AA teams in scoring defense, allowing an average of 44 points. Morgan State ranks 103rd in run defense (220.8 yards per game), 101st in pass defense (240.2 yards per game) and 115th in total defense (461 yards per game). The Bears have allowed fewer than 35 points in only one game, their 28-26 upset last week of defending MEAC champ North Carolina A&T.

-- Mark Schlabach