Big East Roundup

Saturday provided some key upsets and pushed the Irish back into top 10 and a more optimistic view for a BCS bid. ND even stands on the possibility of a National Championship game if some cards fall right. The Big East has two teams currently ahead of the Irish. Here is how they, and the rest of the conference, fared:

WEST VIRGINIA vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE

Yet another hapless victim falls to what is becoming the Culinary School of West Virginia…"where you too can major in cupcakes". Stat Padding U. whipped Mississippi State 42-14 this weekend. Steve Slaton adds to his ridiculous, yet inflated, stats by rushing for 185 yards and a score. His backfield teammate, Pat White, contributed 96 yards passing to go along with 76 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Punt returner Vaughn Rivers even got in on the action, returning a late fourth quarter punt for six. But my hopes for a West Virginia upset weren't without some optimism. The Mountaineers gave up 250 passing yards to Mississippi State. That bodes well as both pass happy Louisville and Pittsburgh still remain on the schedule. For now, the Mountaineers will look to continue their streak over mediocrity as they welcome the Syracuse Orange this weekend.

My Prediction: WVU 34 – 7 My Record (24-4)

LOUISVILLE vs. MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE

While Brian Brohm and Michael Bush sat sideline, the Cardinals continued to pace themselves toward a Big East title with a 44-17 domination of Middle Tennessee State. The score is a little misleading in regards to the Blue Raiders offense, as seven of their points came on a Damon Nickson 88 yard kickoff return for a touchdown early in the first quarter. The Raiders jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the first quarter, but allowed Louisville to tie it just before the second quarter. Hunter Cantwell continued to please his mentor, throwing three touchdowns via 340 passing yards and only one pick. The Cardinals had six different players run for positive yardage, gaining 186 yards collectively led by Marco Urrutia's dominating performance. The hero WR had four receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns. The Cardinals' defense was up to the task in stopping the Raiders' offense, allowing only 250 total yards. Louisville could welcome back Brian Brohm next week as he recovers from injury, but they won't be pressed for his services as Cincinnati comes to town.

My Prediction: Louisville 42-0 My Record (25-4)

PITTSBURGH vs. SYRACUSE

Syracuse looked to keep their winning streak alive and simply could not keep pace with Pitt, falling 21-11. Tyler Palko threw for a pedestrian 174 yards and had two scores (one passing and one rushing), although he was very efficient with an 83 percent completion rate. I would've expected a much bigger game from Palko, but I couldn't foresee the performance by RB LaRod Stephens-Howling. The sophomore tailback punished the Orange for 222 yards and a touchdown of his own. The Orange could have kept pace with Pitt had they not lost three fumbles on drives that were gaining momentum. Combine the buttery fingers with the inability to maintain a consistent run game and this could've been a much closer game. Perry Patterson threw for 223 yards and a touchdown, but the rushing game simply could not gain any momentum. The final touchdown came too little too late and the Orange fall to 3-3 while Pitt continues to push for a top 25 slot at 5-1. The Panthers will look to break in the rankings with a laughable date against Central Florida. Syracuse can look to rebound from this defeat by hopefully pulling off a major upset when the travel to Morgantown to take on No. 4 West Virginia.

My Prediction: Pitt 31 – 28 My Record (26-4)

UCONN – SOUTH FLORIDA

This was just another in what has become many of the Matt Grothe Show. The Bulls send UConn back north with a 38-16 loss in hand, thanks in large part to their star quarterback. Grothe threw for 147 and rushed for 80 yards, but managed to throw for one touchdown and rush for three more. There is no doubt who will win this team's MVP award. The Bulls found a sustained running game with Benjamin Williams rushing for 108 yards and a trip to the end zone. Huskies QB Matt Bonislawski managed to throw for 201 yards and a score, but also had an interception. UConn RB Terry Caulley's only consistency has been his inconsistency in providing a spark in the backfield, rushing for only 24 yards. The Bulls held the Huskies to only 60 rushing yards and really had this game in control from the first series. South Florida will look to continue its push for bowl eligibility as they prepare to take on North Carolina, who should be wounded from an announcement by Greg Little and his intent to play at Notre Dame (just my opinion)! UConn will have to find an answer soon as their bowl hopes are fading fast and a much improved Army team calls.

My Prediction: USF 37 – 13 My Record (27-4)

CINCINNATI vs. AKRON

Coach Dantonio and his team are finding wins in that ever elusive chase for bowl eligibility. The road is still long for the Bearcats, but they did prevail 20-14 over Akron to improve to 3-3 on the season. Dustin Grutza led Cincy with 230 passing yards and a score with one interception. The Bearcats also rushed for a combined 198 yards and a score, with Grutza providing 70 of those yards on his own. The Cincinnati defense played well too, allowing 36 rushing yards and only 219 total yards. The Bearcats will have to work on maintaining ball control, however, as they gave up three turnovers while forcing none. Cincinnati will have to show dramatic improvement to get six wins and might be able to do so, but the road won't be easy as they travel to Louisville this weekend.

My Prediction: Cincy 28 – 24 My Record (28-4)

RUTGERS - BYE


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