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Top 25

Georgia Tech will try to take a giant step back toward the top 10 today when it travels to third-ranked Florida State -- a school that's been there for quite a while.

The No. 21 Yellow Jackets (4-1) have been through some rocky times since 1990, when they went 11-0-1 and finished second in the Associated Press poll. The Seminoles (5-0) have been consistent, finishing with double-digit wins the past 10 seasons.

Both teams are 3-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, tied with North Carolina.

Florida State hasn't beaten a team with a winning record yet this season. Its opponents are 12-18 overall. Coach Bobby Bowden is worried about the youthfulness of his team coming into this game.

"The things that has saved us, our seniors . . . most of 'em are fifth-year seniors," Bowden said. "They just won't let those other guys lose, but yet it'll happen to us if we don't get better every week."

Bowden is concerned about stopping Tech's option offense and its playmaker quarterback Joe Hamilton and his favorite target Harvey Middleton, Tech's all-time top receiver with 136 catches and 1,873 yards.

Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary is comfortable with his Hamilton, who is producing about 230 yards offense a game.

"I think he's starting to get to that next stage as a quarterback mentally," O'Leary said. "He has a great grasp right now on our offense."

The Seminoles have won five straight games in this series since joining the ACC in 1992 and are still unbeaten at home in 31 straight games dating to a 1991 loss to Miami.

In other Top 25 games today, it will be Minnesota at No. 1 Penn State, Texas Tech at No. 2 Nebraska, No. 4 North Carolina at North Carolina State, No. 15 Iowa at No. 5 Michigan, Mississippi at No. 8 LSU, No. 9 Tennessee vs. Alabama, No. 10 Washington at Arizona, Indiana at No. 11 Ohio State, No. 12 Michigan State at Northwestern, California at No. 13 Washington State, No. 14 Texas A&M at No. 20 Kansas State, Oregon State at No. 17 UCLA, Fresno State at No. 18 Air Force, No. 19 Georgia at Vanderbilt, No. 24 Wisconsin at Purdue, and Arizona State at No. 25 Stanford.

Irish hope to stay in high gear

Week after week, Notre Dame tailback Autry Denson took the ball and was slammed into the ground by a wall of defensive linemen.

He'd gain a couple of yards, but nothing like those long runs last year that wore down the other team's defense. The Irish running game, the backbone of their offense, was stuck in neutral.

"It's very frustrating," Denson said. "I feel like I should be the spark, that I should always get my team going and I just don't feel I've been able to."

Until last week. He ripped off a 50-yard scoring run seven minutes into the game at Pittsburgh to put the Irish running game back in gear. Notre Dame finished with a season-high 317 yards.

Now the Irish (2-4) will try and keep it going today against Southern California (2-3).

Southern Cal isn't the same team that won the Rose Bowl two years ago. It isn't even the same team that beat the Irish in overtime last year and finished 6-6. But Notre Dame coach Bob Davie and his players believe the Trojans are better than their record.

"It's two wounded teams playing for a lot of pride," Davie said.

Cannibal Conference

Every time a Pac-10 team played a national title contender this fall, the result was the same.

Washington lost to Nebraska. Stanford lost to North Carolina. Arizona lost to Ohio State. After UCLA lost to Tennessee, Southern California lost to Florida State a few miles away.

So why is everybody on the West Coast raving about the league this year?

Because the Pac-10 features the hottest trends in college football in the 1990s -- parity and offense.

Only upstart Washington State survived September unbeaten, and there isn't a team in the bunch as awful as Illinois, Indiana or many Big East entries. Longtime doormat Oregon State, which has finished last six times in the 1990s, is 3-2 -- and its losses were to Stanford and Arizona State by a field goal apiece.

"We call ourselves the 'Cannibal Conference' because it seems like we tend to beat up on each other," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti says.

Huskies moving toward Division I-A

The University of Connecticut board of trustees voted Friday to upgrade the football program to Division I-A and build a campus stadium that could seat 35,000 spectators.

The legislature now must approve the plan to move from Division I-AA and build on a 100-acre site on the north side of the campus before the university can accept an invitation to the Big East conference.

The transition to Division I-A will take place over several years. The school is expected to play its first full-conference schedule in 2004.

The Huskies -- coached by Lou Holtz's son, Skip -- looked ready enough for Division I-A football when they were blistering the University at Buffalo, 55-0, two weeks ago. UB moves to I-A in football in 1999.

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