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Drew Brees knows if the Purdue Boilermakers beat Notre Dame, they'll do it with his arm.

He still hasn't forgotten how they lost with it.

"There were some mistakes in that game that I made that cost us the game toward the end," Brees said, referring to the two fourth-quarter interceptions he threw to hand Notre Dame a 31-30 win last year.

He gets his shot to make up for those two interceptions when No. 20 Purdue plays host to 16th-ranked Notre Dame today (3:30 p.m., Ch. 7).

Brees said his offseason focus has been to cut down on bad throws, and he passed for 273 yards against Central Florida last week, completing 26 of 43 for four touchdowns.

That's a bad sign for the Notre Dame secondary, which has been shaky at times and prone to give up the big play.

"I don't think they try to disguise anything," Brees said. "If they're going to blitz, they show you they're going to blitz."

While it's no secret Brees will be gunning at the Irish, what Notre Dame quarterback Jarious Jackson has in store for Purdue is still a mystery -- and not just because he's a threat to run, pass and improvise.

Playing behind an inexperienced offensive line and with young tailbacks behind him, Jackson carries the brunt of the Irish offense.

But Jackson has been erratic this season. Against Michigan, he threw for a career-best 302 yards, but also had five errant option pitches, fumbled as he was sacked near the Wolverines' goal line and was sacked four times. He's also thrown four interceptions already.

Notre Dame's offense has stumbled right along with him, committing seven turnovers after having 13 in all of 1997 and 18 last year. To make matters worse, Jackson missed several practices this week with a toe injury, but that isn't expected to keep him out of today's game.

In other televised games today, Pittsburgh is at No. 2 Penn State (noon, ESPN); Rice at No. 6 Michigan (noon, ESPN2); Miami (Ohio) at West Virginia (noon, Ch. 67); Wake Forest at Army (noon, Empire); Morgan State at Bethune-Cookman (noon, Ch. 58); Duke at East Carolina (3:30 p.m., MSG); South Carolina at No. 12 Georgia (5 p.m., ESPN2); Iowa at Iowa State (7 p.m., MSG); Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Southern (7:30 p.m., Ch. 58); No. 14 UCLA at No. 13 Ohio State (8 p.m., Ch. 7); Central Michigan at Syracuse (8 p.m., Empire); Texas at Rutgers (8 p.m., ESPN2).

Top 25

Florida State doesn't lose many games at home. It's a good sign as the top-ranked Seminoles, 51-1-1 at home this decade, open their Atlantic Coast Conference season with a game at Tallahassee, Fla., against No. 10 Georgia Tech.

"We have a task at hand," concedes Yellow Jackets coach George O'Leary, who hopes his club is ready to handle Florida State's 81,000 tomahawk-chopping, war-chanting fans. "It's a very difficult place to play."

Florida State's only home-field defeat this decade was the famous 17-16 "wide right" game won by Miami in 1991 when the two Florida powers met in mid-November with unbeaten records.

The Seminoles have gone 41 straight games at home without a loss and have won seven straight against Georgia Tech. Since Florida State's 29-24 victory in Atlanta in 1992, the Seminoles have outscored their ACC rival by a combined 255-30 margin.

Both teams are 1-0 heading into the conference opener. Georgia Tech routed Navy, 49-14, last Saturday while Florida State has had an extra week off following a 41-7 victory Aug. 28 over Louisiana Tech.

In other games today involving teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, Central Florida is at No. 4 Florida; California at No. 5 Nebraska; Ball State at No. 9 Wisconsin; Alabama-Birmingham at No. 11 Virginia Tech; Temple at No. 17 Kansas State; Middle Tennessee at No. 19 Arizona; Houston at No. 21 Alabama; No. 22 Virginia at Clemson; William & Mary at No. 23 North Carolina State; and Nevada at No. 24 Colorado State.

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