People out on the Flats at Georgia Tech are harking back to the glory days of Robert Lee Dodd. Tech football, like they used to say about the South, is on the rise again.
That climb could be clarified today when the No. 15 Yellow Jackets, 4-0, play home against No. 14 Clemson, 5-1. If Georgia Tech passes that test, they can confirm their new standing Nov. 3 when the Yellow Jackets visit No. 3 Virginia.Georgia Tech and Virginia, 5-0, share the Atlantic Coast Conference lead at 2-0. With the Cavaliers favored by more than two touchdowns this week against North Carolina State, Clemson virtually would be eliminated by another loss.
"This is a big game for both of us," Georgia Tech Coach Bobby Ross said. "Clemson still has a very legitimate shot at the conference title, even though they lost at Virginia. You might survive one loss, but it would be difficult for anybody to win our conference with two losses."
The other game this week matching two Top 25 teams will be in Seattle, where No. 17 Oregon visits No. 13 Washington.
Elsewhere, Michigan State visits No. 1 Michigan, Missouri visits No. 2 Nebraska, Kansas visits No. 4 Miami, Florida visits No. 5 Tennessee, Vanderbilt visits No. 6 Auburn, Air Force visits No. 7 Notre Dame, Colorado State visits No. 9 Brigham Young and No. 10 Southern Cal plays at Stanford.
Also, Iowa visits No. 11 Colorado, Purdue visits No. 12 Illinois, No. 16 Texas A&M visits Houston, Ohio State visits No. 18 Indiana, New Mexico visits No. 19 Wyoming, co-No. 20. Arizona visits Oregon State, co-No. 20 Mississippi visits Georgia, No. 22 Texas plays Oklahoma at Dallas, Texas Tech visits No. 23 Arkansas, Wisconsin visits No. 24 Iowa, and Rice visits No. 25 Texas Christian.
No. 8 Florida State is off.
The Michigan Wolverines insist that concentrating on getting ready for one of their biggest rivals, Michigan State, leaves little time to celebrate their No. 1 ranking.
"It's going to help Michigan State prepare for us, but it isn't going to help us prepare for them," Wolverines fullback Jarrod Bunch said. "They know they'll have a chance to be back in the spotlight if they can knock us off. It's hard to keep winning when you're No. 1, because eventually you start believing it and don't work as hard. It can be both a blessing and a curse."
Miami is favored by five touchdowns while going after its 56th victory in its last 59 regular-season games. The once-beaten (at Brigham Young) Hurricanes have not lost more than one regular-season game the same year since 1984. They have won 34 consecutive home games in the Orange Bowl, dating back to Sept. 3, 1984.
Florida is unranked because of NCAA sanctions, but otherwise the unbeaten Gators would be right up there with Tennessee.
"We're encouraged that we're where we are at this point," says Steve Spurrier, who left Duke last winter to return to his alma mater as head coach. "But, hopefully, we can get even better so we can give Tennessee a good game."
Tennessee Coach Johnny Majors says a tie two weeks ago with Auburn left the Volunteers little room to maneuver in the Southeastern Conference race even though Florida is ineligible for the league title.
"We're in a situation where we can ill afford to stub our toe," he said. "We don't have any breathing room."
Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz says you can count the Irish out of the race for the national championship.
"I'm not concerned about a national championship," Holtz said after his team lost to Stanford and fell from No. 1. "As far as I'm concerned it's a dead issue. The only chance we had was to go 11-0 and play anybody else who went 11-0. We're not going to win it with a loss.
"You've got to be lucky to win a national championship. Here you've got to do it convincingly or you do not receive it here. They always over-evaluate Notre Dame in the preseason and at the end they always under-evaluate us."
Houston, 4-0, is another team which would be highly ranked if not on NCAA probation. The Cougars have one of the most explosive offenses in the country.
However, Houston has not beaten Texas A&M since 1984. In the past two seasons, the Aggies have countered Houston's run-and-shoot offense by blitzing as many as seven players to pressure the quarterback. They are also one of the few teams with defensive backs capable of playing man-to-man coverage on Houston's quick receivers.