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Michael Vick stood on the sideline two years ago at Boston College, getting soaked by rain and watching Virginia Tech win 17-0 with a third-string quarterback.

Vick and the fourth-ranked Hokies return today (3:30, Ch. 4) under much different circumstances. He'll take center stage, hoping to build his Heisman Trophy credentials and his team's chances for Big East and national championships.

"I've never played there before but I look forward to it," Vick said.

Why shouldn't he?

He's rested after Virginia Tech (3-0) was idle last weekend. Boston College (2-1) is hurting on a defense that was young to begin with.

Starting linebackers Ryan Burch and Scott Bradley and defensive tackle Antonio Garaydef will miss the game with injuries.

The multitalented Vick has rushed for more than 100 yards in two of three games this season. And he's completed 26 of 44 passes for 412 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

Meanwhile, the season isn't exactly shaping up the way the Syracuse Orangemen had hoped. "I thought we'd be 3-0," said head coach Paul Pasqualoni, whose team is riding a two-game losing streak.

Considering the competition -- Buffalo, Cincinnati and East Carolina -- that certainly was not wishful thinking. However, Syracuse has managed to beat only Buffalo.

"With two losses early, the national title and things of that nature are very much out the door," said tailback Dee Brown, who is averaging 97 yards rushing per game to lead the Orangemen. "But we have the Big East Conference that we have to win, that we want to win. That's sort of motivation."

Tonight (8, ESPN2), the Orangemen face what could be a make-or-break game against Brigham Young (2-3), a team that has been struggling, too. Win, and the season takes a turn for the better. Lose, and the aftermath could get very ugly with the likes of Virginia Tech and Miami still on the schedule.

In other televised games today, No. 17 Wisconsin is at No. 9 Michigan (noon, Ch. 7); Northwestern at No. 18 Michigan State (noon, Empire); No. 24 Illinois at Minnesota (noon, ESPN); No. 16 TCU at Navy (noon, MSG); No. 22 Purdue at Penn State (3:30 p.m., Ch. 7); UB at Marshall (7 p.m., Empire); and No. 11 Tennessee at LSU (7:30 p.m., ESPN).

Top 25

Tommy Bowden's offensive philosophy at No. 7 Clemson is quite simple, though it makes things complicated for opposing defenses.

"We try to get the best athlete the ball a whole bunch," Bowden said as his Tigers (4-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) prepared to play winless Duke today.

"Our best athlete is our quarterback, so we try to get him throwing and running opportunities."

Through four games, quarterback Woodrow Dantzler has run the nation's top-ranked offense to perfection, accounting for 1,186 of Clemson's 2,043 yards. He's averaging 123 yards rushing per game.

The Tigers have scored 25 touchdowns heading into this weekend's game with the Blue Devils, who have managed just two TDs in an 0-4 start.

Duke's defense is allowing 448 yards a game -- eighth in the nine-team ACC. That unit will have its hands full trying to slow down one of the nation's hottest players in Dantzler, who leads the ACC in rushing and passing efficiency.

Bowden has reminded his team that Clemson is 3-3 in its last six games at Wallace Wade Stadium and 11-11 there overall.

Clemson, with its highest ranking since October 1991, has a chance to win five games in September for the first time in its 105 years of football.

In other games today involving teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, Missouri is at No. 1 Nebraska; No. 3 Florida at Mississippi State; No. 5 Kansas State at Colorado; No. 6 Washington at No. 20 Oregon; No. 8 USC at Oregon State; No. 10 Miami at Rutgers; Oklahoma State at No. 13 Texas; Kansas at No. 14 Oklahoma; Arizona State at No. 15 UCLA; Vanderbilt at No. 19 Auburn; Memphis at No. 21 Southern Miss.; No. 23 South Carolina at Alabama; and No. 25 Georgia at Arkansas.

Showdown for Pac-10 supremacy

The University of Oregon is looking to beat another undefeated sixth-ranked team this week.

The 3-1 20th-ranked Ducks rolled to a 29-10 upset of UCLA last week at home, and are hoping for a repeat performance this week against the University of Washington, the team that supplanted UCLA as No. 6.

It's a game that's more than an interstate rivalry -- the winner will have an early lead in the Rose Bowl race atop the Pac-10 Conference standings.

Visiting teams haven't had recent success at Autzen Stadium, where the Ducks haven't lost since 1997, a 17-game streak that's currently the fifth-longest active in Division I-A.

No breaks for Weinke

Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke is expected to play Oct. 7 against Miami after tests showed he did not break any bones in his left foot during Thursday night's victory at Maryland.

"Chris has a midfoot sprain," Dr. Tom Haney said Friday. "He will be protected during practice, but we do expect him to be able to practice Monday. How much he can actually do at practice we don't know yet."

Weinke threw three touchdown passes before leaving early in the third quarter of the No. 2 Seminoles' 59-7 victory over Maryland. His third TD pass gave him 58 for his career, breaking Danny Kanell's school record.

"I'm just relieved that there is nothing that says I'm definitely out," Weinke said. "Obviously, I've got a lot of confidence in our medical staff and I trust what they tell me. I'm a lot sorer today that I was last night, but I've got a few days to rest before we get going."

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