No. 25 Virginia at Syracuse
Getting Defensive: New Syracuse coach Greg Robinson, a longtime NFL defensive coordinator and most recently at the University of Texas, has already put his stamp on the Orange. Syracuse ranks ninth nationally in total defense (231 yards per game), seventh in pass defense (120 yards), ninth in scoring defense and sixth in pass efficiency defense (74.32). The Orange shut out Buffalo, 31-0, last week and held West Virginia without an offensive touchdown in a 15-7 loss on Sept. 4.
Small-Town Kid Comes Up Big: Virginia freshman Cedric Peerman is from the small town of Gladys in southwest Virginia, the same remote area that produced former Cavaliers all-American Thomas Jones and Notre Dame star Julius Jones. Peerman was a star runner at William Campbell High, but wasn't highly recruited because of his small size. But when Cavs tailback Wali Lundy sprained a foot during the first quarter of their 31-19 win over Western Michigan on Sept. 3, and backups Michael Johnson and Jason Snelling fumbled twice each, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Peerman was thrust into the game. The son of a tobacco farmer, Peerman ran 16 times for 69 yards and one touchdown.
Tough Road: The Cavaliers haven't fared well in their road openers, losing three of four under Coach Al Groh. The lone victory was last year's 44-14 win at Temple. The Cavaliers haven't won two road openers in a row since they won three straight from 1998 to 2000.
-- Mark Schlabach