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TV games

The only matchup of ranked teams today takes place in Madison, Wis., where No. 4 Michigan battles No. 20 Wisconsin (3:30 p.m., Ch. 7).

Michigan's defense will try to slow Ron Dayne's pursuit of the NCAA career rushing record.

Dayne, who needs 1,193 yards in his final eight games to break Ricky Williams' mark of 6,279, says he is recovered from a sprained ankle that bothered him in last week's 17-12 loss to Cincinnati.

"It's feeling good. I'm able to run," Dayne said.

Dayne rushed for 231 yards on 28 carries last week to pass Archie Griffin and become the Big Ten's career rushing leader. But he knows Michigan's defense will provide a stiffer test.

"I'm looking at it as a big game for me and for the team," Dayne said. "After losing last week, we have something to make up for."

Meanwhile, West Virginia is about to find out what No. 4 Michigan already knows: Syracuse has a pretty fair defense. Actually, the Mountaineers seem to know that already.

"This is the best defense I've seen Syracuse have," said West Virginia coach Don Nehlen, who leads the struggling Mountaineers into the Carrier Dome today (3:30 p.m., Ch. 4). "How anybody can keep this team out of the Top 25 is a disaster. If Michigan is No. 4, these guys should be 4.1. This is an outstanding defensive football team, along with an offense that drives you crazy."

Uncharacteristically, West Virginia arrives with a losing record. It opened the season with a 30-23 loss to East Carolina, beat Miami of Ohio, then got drubbed 33-0 last week at Maryland.

Syracuse (2-1), though, always seems to bring out the best in the Mountaineers, so the game is a timely one for both teams as they look to rebound from losses.

Syracuse is coming off a disheartening 18-13 home loss to Michigan, much like the 34-33 loss to Tennessee to start the season last year. Although the Orangemen's gutty performance against the Wolverines moved them within one spot of making the Top 25, they feel they should have won the game. Dwelling on what might have been will be a battle they will have to overcome.

In other televised games today, Indiana is at No. 2 Penn State (noon, ESPN); Northwestern at No. 13 Purdue (noon, ESPN2); Cincinnati at No. 12 Ohio State (noon, Empire); Boston College at Rutgers (noon, Ch. 67); No. 9 Miami at East Carolina (6 p.m., ESPN2); UB at Ohio (7 p.m., Empire); No. 3 Florida at Kentucky (7:30 p.m., ESPN); and Virginia at No. 17 BYU (9 p.m., ESPN2).

Top 25

Three veteran quarterbacks couldn't beat No. 1 Florida State. The kid gets his shot today.

Seniors Tim Rattay of Louisiana Tech, Joe Hamilton of Georgia Tech and Jamie Barnette of North Carolina State fell short in attempts to upset the powerful Seminoles (3-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) this season.

Now, North Carolina sophomore Ronald Curry takes center stage for the Tar Heels (1-1, 0-1).

While Curry is still maturing as a QB, he's elusive in the pocket, which could create problems for Florida State's defense that loves to penetrate into the backfield and pile up sacks.

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, five wins shy of 300, calls Curry a special player. Bowden tried to land Curry two years ago when he was the nation's No. 1 prep prospect.

"I've never seen a high school quarterback as good as Curry," Bowden said. "Now, is he the best passer I've ever seen in high school? No. But best quarterback? Yes."

Curry showed the Seminoles what he could do in last year's 39-13 loss at Tallahassee, Fla. He was almost sacked on a fourth-down play, but escaped and threw a 7-yard TD pass that closed the gap to 23-13 with 11:02 left.

After a mediocre game to open this season in a 20-17 loss against Virginia, Curry had 241 yards passing and 45 yards rushing in a 42-30 win at Indiana.

In other games today involving teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, Southern Mississippi is at No. 5 Texas A&M; No. 6 Nebraska at Missouri; Memphis at No. 7 Tennessee; Central Florida at No. 11 Georgia; No. 14 Arkansas at Alabama; No. 15 Kansas State at Iowa State; No. 16 USC at Oregon; No. 18 UCLA at Stanford; No. 19 Michigan State at Illinois; Temple at No. 21 Marshall; No. 22 Texas at Baylor; South Carolina at No. 23 Mississippi State; Wyoming at No. 24 Air Force; and No. 25 North Carolina State at Wake Forest.

Throwing his weight around

LOS ANGELES -- Neo Aoga looks like a lineman, and that's exactly what his Azusa Pacific teammates thought he was.

Then they watched the 300-pound quarterback throw, and could hardly believe it.

"Everybody's mouths just dropped," Azusa Pacific star Jack Williams said.

Williams and Aoga are old friends. Williams ran into him by chance last spring and told him the Cougars needed an experienced quarterback. And the defending NAIA national champions found their man, a very big man.

"The first time I saw him, I said, 'Man, this guy's huge,' and he is," said Peter Shinnick, first-year coach of the school 25 miles east of Los Angeles. "But I watched him run around a little bit, saw he could move around a little bit, he could throw, everything's good."

The 6-foot-2 1/2 Aoga has completed 44 of 91 passes for 707 yards and three scores with four interceptions to help the Azusa Pacific get off to a 2-1 start.

Aoga, 26, signed with Utah out of high school in 1991, but never played for the Utes. He led national junior college power Long Beach City College to terrific seasons in 1994-95. As a 260-pounder, he passed for 1,632 yards for NCAA Division II Missouri Western State in 1996. Then he sat out the last two seasons and is now hoping for a "big" comeback.

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