Navy at Duke
Long Time Coming: The Midshipmen have not played since a loss to Stanford on Sept. 10. Navy had an open date on Sept. 17, and its game at Rice -- originally scheduled for Sept. 24 -- was postponed to Oct. 22 because of the impending threat of Hurricane Rita. The three-week layoff is tied for the longest in program history, and it's imperative the Midshipmen defeat the Blue Devils if they are to earn the six victories required to be eligible for a bowl game. Meantime, Duke has played a game in each of the past four weeks, its last a 38-7 loss at Virginia.
Quarterbacking Quandary: Navy Coach Paul Johnson said he likely will use a two-quarterback system against Duke. Junior backup Brian Hampton is expected to play early to keep senior starter Lamar Owens fresh after he was sidelined by cramps during the second half in each of Navy's first two games. Owens has been effective when healthy, completing 17 of 29 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 130 yards on 29 carries. Hampton completed 3 of 10 passes for 55 yards, but did lead his team on a touchdown-scoring drive, when he entered in the fourth quarter against Stanford. Duke junior quarterback Mike Schneider was pulled midway through the first quarter against Virginia after fumbling and throwing an interception. But freshman Zack Asack wasn't much better, completing 7 of 13 passes for 87 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown.
Getting Defensive: The biggest reason why Navy suffered three-point losses to Maryland and Stanford was because its defense allowed 40 points combined in the second half. But Duke isn't as talented offensively as Navy's first two opponents. Duke averages 17 points and 225.5 yards of total offense per game. The Midshipmen's option offense, which averages 228 yards rushing and 400.5 yards of total offense per game, should be able to move the ball against Duke, which has allowed an average of 30.2 points and 300.8 yards per game.
-- Jon Gallo
Howard at Charleston Southern
Dedicated to the One They Love: Eddie Gadson had six catches for 51 yards for Charleston Southern in a 24-6 loss to Howard last year. He led the Big South with 69 catches for 792 yards and nine touchdowns. The Buccaneers, however, have dedicated the season to Gadson, 20, after he was killed in a car accident June 17; the team is wearing "EG21" stickers on their helmets.
Here They Come: The Buccaneers have allowed 732 yards rushing. That's good news for Howard's running back tandem of junior Antoine Rutherford (280 yards, three touchdowns) and senior Keon Coleman (127 yards, two touchdowns).
General Mills: Charleston Southern Coach Jay Mills, 43, is in his third season. He previously was the offensive coordinator at Harvard. The Buccaneers were 5-5 last year after going 1-11 in his first year. Junior quarterback Collin Drafts is the school's all-time leader in completions, passing yards, passing touchdowns, attempts and total offense.
Lafayette at Georgetown
Grading the 'D': Lafayette senior linebacker Maurice Bennett (44 tackles) is on the watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the top defensive player in Division I-AA. He leads a unit that is seventh in I-AA in scoring defense (13.5 points).
Half Measures: Lafayette has held opponents to 17 points in the second half. That's bad news for the slow-starting Hoyas -- they have been outscored 51-3 in the first half.
Great Pair of Legs: Georgetown junior Nick Cangelosi leads the team in rushing (246 yards) and passing (38 for 72, 506 yards). He would be the first player since the school began keeping records in 1970 to lead the Hoyas in both categories. His achievements running the ball are impressive given that he was a drop-back passer in high school -- he threw 56 touchdown passes at Camden (N.J.) Catholic -- and that senior running backs John Sims and Marcus Slayton (118 yards this year) led the team in rushing in 2002 and 2003, respectively.
-- Christian Swezey