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COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT

TV games

Many of the nation's elite teams figure to have laughers on today's heavy schedule. Then there's the matchup between Michigan and Notre Dame.

The two longtime powers will meet in the always heated atmosphere of Michigan Stadium when No. 16 Notre Dame visits No. 7 Michigan (3:30 p.m., Ch. 7).

"We've got to score points early," Notre Dame quarterback Jarious Jackson said. "On a team like that, you have to go in and score points early to keep the crowd out of it, to keep them from having the 12th man."

It will be the 29th meeting between the Fighting Irish and Wolverines. The Wolverines hold a 16-11-1 edge in the series, but the teams are tied at 3-3 during the 1990s.

Meanwhile, many of the other ranked teams should have no problems with their opponents. Among them, No. 2 Penn State is favored by 45 points over Akron (noon, Empire) and No. 3 Tennessee is a 24-point favorite over Wyoming (7 p.m., ESPN2).

Penn State, for one, will try to avoid a letdown against Akron, which plays UB next Saturday.

"He's going to make sure we're humble," Lions fullback Aaron Harris said, referring to coach Joe Paterno.

Michigan won the first eight games over Notre Dame, starting with an 8-0 victory at South Bend in 1887. But the Irish are 5-4 in games played at Michigan Stadium.

"If we let them get any points -- it could be three points -- the crowd is going to go crazy," Jackson said. "We already know that. We're preparing for that. We've just got to play our own game and not worry about that."

This will be the opener for the Wolverines. Notre Dame has played once, a 48-13 victory last week over Kansas.

Tennessee opens defense of its national championship against a Wyoming team coming off a respectable 8-3 season. Leading the Volunteers will be quarterback Tee Martin and running back Jamal Lewis, who had a big freshman season in 1997, but missed most of 1998 with a knee injury.

In other televised games today, No. 5 Nebraska is at Iowa (noon, Ch. 7); Baylor at Boston College (noon, ESPN); West Virginia vs. East Carolina at Charlotte (3 p.m., ESPN2); Alabama-Birmingham at Missouri (3:30 p.m., MSG); Virginia State at Norfolk State (6:30 p.m., Ch. 58); No. 14 Colorado vs. Colorado State at Denver (7 p.m., Empire); and South Carolina at No. 24 North Carolina State (7:30 p.m., ESPN).

Top 25

It's not a good time for No. 6 Texas A&M to be without linebacker Dat Nguyen.

Nguyen, the Lombardi Award winner and departed leader of the Wrecking Crew defense, now plays for the Dallas Cowboys. The Aggies will have to find a defense for Louisiana Tech quarterback Tim Rattay when the teams meet tonight.

Rattay led the nation last season with 4,943 passing yards and 46 touchdown passes, and the Aggies are gearing up all the defensive backs they can muster for their season opener.

The Aggies lost linebackers Nguyen and Warrick Holdman and safety Rich Coady from last year's defense that didn't allow a touchdown pass from Rattay in a 28-7 victory. The Aggies are the only team to deny Rattay a touchdown pass in 24 starts at Louisiana Tech.

In other games today involving teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, Western Michigan is at No. 4 Florida; Florida A&M at No. 8 Miami; Murray State at No. 9 Wisconsin; No. 10 Georgia Tech at Navy; James Madison at No. 11 Virginia Tech; Utah State at No. 12 Georgia; Boise State at No. 17 UCLA; No. 18 Arkansas at SMU; No. 20 Alabama at Vanderbilt; No. 21 USC at Hawaii; No. 22 Purdue at Central Florida; and No. 23 Virginia at North Carolina.

On Sunday, No. 15 Arizona visits TCU and on Monday, No. 25 Arizona State plays Texas Tech.

Heisman hype alert

Now that no less of an authority than ESPN's Chris Fowler anointed Wisconsin's Ron Dayne as the proverbial front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, here are six guys who have the best shot at joining him for the coronation in New York.

* Drew Brees, junior quarterback, Purdue: Threw for nearly 4,000 yards and 39 touchdowns for a 9-4 team a year ago. The last QB to win this thing for a team that lost more than twice (during the regular season) was Jim Plunkett, almost three decades ago.

* Peter Warrick, senior wide receiver, Florida State: Being the gamebreaker on a high-profile team ensures mucho exposure. He'll supply the highlights. Lone problem is sharing the spotlight with junior QB Chris Weinke.

* Jamal Lewis, junior running back, Tennessee: Provided he's not overshadowed by senior QB Tee Martin.

* LaVar Arrington, junior linebacker, Penn State: A defensive player can't win. But if the Lions keep winning, he'll be a factor. Coming soon, into an opposing backfield near you.

* Chris Redman, senior quarterback, Louisville: Should put up some serious numbers, for a unit that led the nation by averaging 559 yards a game. Needs to engineer a few serious wins. Just ask Tim Couch.

* Georgia Tech senior QB Joe Hamilton leads the bells-and-whistles race. A CD and mouse-pad have been sent out to voters, extolling his virtues. Chad Pennington, Marshall's senior QB, has a Web site (herdqb.com). Can an infomercial be far behind?

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