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No school has dominated Florida State in recent years the way North Carolina State has during the last 78 minutes of football the teams played.

"They've just whipped us the last six quarters," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said.

In that span, the Wolfpack have outscored Bowden's Seminoles 45-14, including 21 of the final 28 points in a 48-35 loss in 1997 and then last year's 24-7 upset victory in Raleigh, N.C.

The 20th-ranked Wolfpack (3-0) visit No. 1 Florida State today (3:30 p.m., Ch. 4) looking to become the first Atlantic Coast Conference team to win a league game in Tallahassee and only the second team to win at Florida State in this decade.

Although its defense has been spotty so far this season, Florida State's offense has been balanced.

The Seminoles (2-0, 1-0 ACC) have averaged 156.5 yards on the ground and 276 yards passing.

Although it's had great success against Florida State the past two seasons, North Carolina State is having a tough time getting its offense moving.

Quarterback Jamie Barnette has completed 52.7 percent of his passes, but for only 320 yards and one touchdown in victories over William and Mary, South Carolina and Texas.

Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame are in a state of disarray.

They've lost their last two games when last-minute drives came up short. Their offense has been inconsistent. Players and coaches are still trying to get over their 1-2 start.

But Michigan State coach Nick Saban keeps reminding his players of one thing about their game at No. 24 Notre Dame today (2:30 p.m., Ch. 2): It's still Notre Dame.

"Notre Dame has a special tradition, so that makes it a special place to go, and every player knows that," he said. "Notre Dame is a place that has as much national prestige as any school in the county, probably more. It's not an easy place to play."

But the Irish haven't exactly been living up to that reputation lately.

Notre Dame failed to score from inside the 1 on two straight plays in the final seconds against Purdue last week. The week before, a last-minute drive ended at the Michigan 10 when the Irish failed to get a first down to stop the clock and take one last shot at the end zone.

"The only thing that is going to make us feel better is to win. Only way to win is to eliminate mistakes and go play a complete football game," coach Bob Davie said.

In other televised games today, Boston College is at Navy (noon, Empire); Kentucky at Indiana (noon, ESPN); West Virginia at Maryland (noon, ESPN2); Kent at Pittsburgh (noon, Ch. 67); No. 9 Wisconsin at Cincinnati (3:15 p.m., MSG); No. 3 Penn State at No. 8 Miami (3:30 p.m., Ch. 4); Auburn at LSU (5 p.m., ESPN); Air Force at Washington (6:30 p.m., Empire); Wake Forest at Virginia (7 p.m., ESPN2) and No. 6 Michigan at Syracuse (8 p.m., Ch. 4).

Top 25

Southern California fans who liked the Trojans' high-scoring victory in their season opener should stay tuned.

USC routed Hawaii, 62-7, two weeks ago and, after a bye, is heavily favored again today against San Diego State at the Coliseum.

"Hopefully we can do the same thing we did to Hawaii," tailback Chad Morton said. "Hopefully we can score a lot of points, too, maybe even more."

The 17th-ranked Trojans are favored by 23 points over San Diego State (1-1), a 38-10 loser to Illinois last weekend.

Morton carried 19 times for 95 yards and one touchdown in the Trojans' 529-yard day against Hawaii.

In other games today involving teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, No. 2 Tennessee is at Co.-No. 4 Florida; Southern Mississippi at Co.-No. 4 Nebraska; Tulsa at No. 7 Texas A&M; Central Florida at No. 12 Georgia Tech; Ohio at No. 13 Ohio State; Central Michigan at No. 14 Purdue; La.-Monroe at No. 15 Arkansas; UTEP at No. 16 Kansas State; San Diego State at No. 17 USC; Louisiana Tech at No. 18 Alabama; Stanford at No. 19 Arizona; Fresno State at No. 21 UCLA; and New Mexico State at No. 22 Arizona State.

Holtz has problems

After only two weeks, South Carolina coach Lou Holtz sees the same problems as last year's team, which went 1-10 under former coach Brad Scott and set a school record for losses.

Now the 0-2 Gamecocks have 12 straight defeats -- second in college football behind Holtz's alma mater, Kent, with 15 in a row. And things could get worse in Holtz's first home game today. East Carolina (2-0) is playing its best ball in a decade.

"This week's going to be critical," Holtz said. "I really expected us to play better in all facets."

Holtz sold his message of hope to South Carolina players and fans tired of recent failure.

But in week three, there are only questions: Where's the better play? The improved competitiveness? The wins?

Holtz said those are great questions. "We've got to become competitive now," he said.

There were promising moments in road losses to North Carolina State and Georgia, but not enough.

Quarterback Phil Petty has completed about a third of his passes with three interceptions and one touchdown.

"We need a win this week, no matter who our opponent is," Petty said.

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