Big East Preview

This weekend is Showdown Saturday with seven great games lined up for your viewing pleasure. The Big East holds one of those games on Saturday, but there are some key games to view this weekend that could help determine the landscape of the season for some BCS-bound schools. I expect some upsets this weekend, so take a look at this weekend's coming games and see for yourself.

WEST VIRGINIA vs. MARYLAND

This Thursday night showdown could be a good one. For one, most people didn't know that Steve Slaton was recruited by Maryland, but the Terps eventually pulled their offer and he moved on with the Mountaineers. This could be a huge game of payback for Slaton and Co. if the Maryland defense does not come to play. Both teams come in undefeated, having both dispatched of cupcakes in their first two weeks. For Maryland to win, they need to find a more varied offense. Terp QB Sam Hollenbach has only thrown for 292 yards and no touchdowns against William and Mary and Middle Tennessee State. Coach Friedgen does have to solid contributors in the backfield with RBs Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball. Maryland will have to become a throwing team because the West Virginia defense will load the box to stop the rushing attack and force the Terp offense to the air (sound like a familiar game plan?). But the Terp defense is also suspect, giving up 329 yards of offense to MTSU and 310 yards to William and Mary. To add insult to injury, this game is in Morgantown, and I expect the Mountaineers to roll.

My Prediction: WVU 42 – 10

CINCINNATI vs. OHIO STATE

Bad news for Irish fans is that these types of games will only keep Troy Smith ahead of Quinn for Heisman talk. The Bearcat defense was beaten up pretty bad last week against Pittsburgh and simply cannot contain any portion of the Buckeye offense. Ohio State's defense is playing well, especially behind James Laurinitis and should really have this game over by halftime. OSU dominates this one. My Prediction: OSU 56 – 6

MIAMI vs. LOUISVILLE

This is, undoubtedly, my game of the week in the Big East. Louisville's rushing trio put up some serious numbers last week against a weak Temple team. But this team will not have faced a defense with such speed as they will when Miami comes to town. Sergio Stripling and George Spencer should again be the focus of the running game, but will face off against a monstrous rush defense. The Hurricanes are ranked seventh in total defense, and I expect more of this type of production. Miami lost to a tough Florida State team in week one, but the offense got its chance to build some momentum against 1-AA Florida A&M last week. The fact that this will be the toughest defense Brohm will face all season will spell some trouble for him, especially with Michael Bush out. Kyle Wright and Miami have the advantage in that they have already faced off against a great defense and barely lost. Charlie Jones will power the Miami rushing attack, but the name to watch is Javarris James, who should get a share of the carries and will light up the Cardinal defense. The Hurricane defense will not allow Brohm to beat them, and Louisville will fall to 0-10 against the ‘Canes.

My Prediction: Miami 31-21

MICHIGAN STATE vs. PITTSBURGH

If there were a contender for game of the week this week, it would be this match-up. Tyler Palko and the Panthers welcome in Drew Stanton and the Spartans to Pittsburgh. A clash between to mobile quarterbacks that can throw and are generals of their teams will make this fun to watch. The Spartan defense will be the key to this game. First, the defense allowed 268 yards to Division I cellar dweller Idaho, and 265 yards to perennial creampuff Eastern Michigan. The Spartans also got bad news as neither starting RBs Javon Ringer nor Jehuu Caulcrick will play this Saturday. The Pitt Panthers have won two games against seemingly better opponents and should be able to stay with the Spartans offensively. Pitt WR Derek Kinder should find holes in the Spartan secondary, while Panther MLB H. B. Blades will be the defensive leader. Expect Pitt to drop five into coverage and rush at least one LB. Blades will be used as a spy on Stanton and I expect Michigan State to stumble here and limp home to await the Irish.

My Prediction: Pitt 38 – 28

SYRACUSE vs. ILLINOIS

The 2006 Toilet Bowl will be played September 16, 2006 in Champaign. Illinois is coming off of a 33-0 drubbing from Rutgers, while Syracuse lost a heartbreaker at home to Iowa in double overtime. Perry Patterson and the Orange will rebound against the Illini, making Coach Greg Robinson's job safe for about 48 hours. Syracuse will end its 11-game losing streak at the hands of Ron Zook and his very poor Illinois team. His team will have to rebound quickly as they open Big 10 play the next week. Expect this game to be as entertaining as watching two blind monkeys fight over a rubber banana.

My Prediction: Syracuse wins the Golden Toilet Lid 24 – 7

WAKE FOREST vs. UCONN

Neither team is coming off any impressive wins. UCONN dispatched Rhode Island in week one, and the Demon Deacons beat a weak Syracuse team in week one, only to escape by a blocked field goal against Duke in week two. Deacon RB Micah Andrews has slowed a little and will have to have a big game to win. The Huskies will be led by QB D.J. Hernandez, but it will be the rushing attack that wins this game. If Andrews has a big game, expect a close game and the Deacons to pull through. A big game by the Huskies will go a long way, as UCONN's Hernandez tries to convince his younger brother, Aaron Hernandez (ESPN Top Five TE and Top 150 player) to come to Storrs. I expect UCONN to come into this game confident and Wake Forest to be a little sheepish after the near loss last week.

My Prediction: UCONN 30 – 12

RUTGERS vs. OHIO

The Ray Rice and Brian Leonard era continues in Piscataway as the mighty Scarlet Knights welcome Frank Solich and his Bobcats. Mark it down, Rutgers will be 5-0 by the time Navy welcomes Coach Schiano's crew on October 14th. The mighty MAC Bobcats will not have an answer for SUNJ as they prepare for bowl contention. Both teams come in undefeated, but as mentioned in so many other cases, Rutgers has had the better challenges in the first two weeks and will handle this one as well.

My Prediction: Rutgers 31 – 13

SOUTH FLORIDA vs. UCF

The Bulls will venture into George O'Leary's world, padded résumé and all. On any other given week, I would probably take the Golden Knights of Central Florida in this match, but the play of USF QB Matt Grothe really has made me wonder. Bulls WR Taurus Johnson should have a big game against a defense that surrendered 433 yards passing to the Florida Gators. The key difference in this game will be the inability of O'Leary's crew to stop the offense of USF and the Bulls will pull away in the second half.

My Prediction: USF 41 – 24


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