Fearless Forecast

Matei's Picks

SU has won the last four matchups at the Carrier Dome.

The Mountaineers are sky high after another drubbing of a Top 25 team.  The obvious question to ask is whether they will be as eager to play this game as they were in the Brawl.  After all, it's just Syracuse right?

This Syracuse team has a star of their own, a guy by the name of Walter Reyes.  Syracuse is 1 win away from Bowl eligibility and has quite a bit riding on this game as well.

Unfortunately for the Orange, they are running into the hottest team in the country this side of the University of Oklahoma.  WVU seems, to put it bluntly, unstoppable.  Quincy Wilson is just a mammoth and has yet to see a defense that can stop him.  Can the Orange be that defense?

No way! Go with those blazing eers!

#25 West Virginia 30 - Syracuse 20


No. 21 PITTSBURGH at TEMPLE 1:00 p.m.
Pittsburgh has a four-game win streak against the Owls.

The key for the Pittsburgh Panthers, as always, is to improve on their dismal run defense that has allowed a pair of Joneses and a guy by the name of Q. Wilson to run havoc in their secondary.  We know the Panthers bring little to the table in terms of their own rushing attack, but then again, with a world-class receiving core led by Larry "All-World" Fitzgerald, does it really matter?  This game is all about what Pitt does - they will score, but can Temple keep up? If Pitt shows up to play, it will be a cake-walk.  However, don't think you can give Temple a chance and still breeze, as the Va. Tech Hokies found out last week.  If Pitt thinks they can breeze through the Owls, they'll have their Big East title hopes dashed quickly.

Vegas opened by giving the Panthers 15.  I think Pitt is much better than that - they just haven't shown it yet.

#21 Pittsburgh 43 - Temple 20


Tech has an 8-2 lead in BIG EAST play.

Even by Va. Tech's standards last week versus Temple must have seemed like the worst of possible nightmares - we know they can't beat the good teams, but this seemed like the perfect opportunity for the Hokies to do what they typically do best - beat up on the little guys.

Boston College comes into the game with a hard-fought victory at Rutgers.  Their formula is simple: win and secure a Bowl spot. 

While we've seen the Jekyll and Hyde Hokies perform like world-beaters, we've also seen them tighten up at the slightest adverse situation.  The question then becomes which Hokie team shows up? If the Eagles can give Va. Tech the slightest battle, watch the Hokies fall apart, as per the usual.

Unfortunately for B.C. Va. Tech will pull away early.  Run defense? Tell that to Kevin "I'm going to win the Heisman" Jones.  What B.C. was able to do against Rutgers last week, they will not be able to do against the Hokies.

Boston College 14 - #12 Virginia Tech 36


RUTGERS at No. 13 MIAMI (ESPN Plus+) Noon
The Hurricanes have won all 10 series meetings.

So who starts at QB for Miami? If you're Rutgers, does it really matter? Well, yes - the 2 options for Miami are as different from one another as night and day.  Brock Berlin is your typical pro-style QB while Crudup will look to run with the ball whenever given the opportunity.  This presents a huge challenge for the Scarlet Knights defense.

Rutgers must not telegraph their offense like they did last week - I don't care what defense your opponent is playing; if the opposition is dictating your offense, then you're in trouble.  Rutgers, who will likely see themselves in another game with, at best, limited action from Justice Hairston, must prove they can move the ball against this vaunted Hurricane defense.  They must keep control of the ball, and they must give their defense a chance.  Do all those things right offensively, limit the Hurricanes' big plays on both offense and win the special teams match, and the Scarlet Knights will give themselves a chance to win this game.

But in all likelihood Miami's defense will show up.  As will their offense - whether its Crudup or Berlin, or some combination, they'll have enough big plays to win comfortably.

Rutgers 16 - #13 Miami 30

Matei matt1@cep.rutgers.edu



Mike's Picks


If you like the running game don't miss this contest matching up the two top tailbacks in the Big East.

Quincy Wilson and Walter Reyes.

You don't get any better than that.

West Virginia's Wilson is a power runner who will knock you over and knock you out. He is the 10th ranked rusher in the nation.

Syracuse's Reyes is a slasher with a good nose for the creases and the power to break tackles when he has to. He is the 12th ranked rusher in the nation.

Unfortunately neither of these teams can mount a passing game. Syracuse is ranked 104th in passing yards per game and the Mountaineers are just behind them at 105th.

Of the two teams however it is the Mountaineers who are clearly superior on defense. WVU is ranked 30th in the nation, giving up only 20.5 points per game. Their rushing defense (important in this game) is also exceptional. WVU only gives up 130 yards per game on the ground despite playing good rushing teams like Virginia Tech, Boston College, Wisconsin, Maryland.

The Syracuse run defense (45th in the nation) is respectable but not great.

Overall, WVU seems to have a clear defensive advanatage.

The oddsmakers have called this game West Virginia by 2.

Since Syracuse will have the home field advantage, that's close, but the actual score will be ...

West Virginia 28- Syracuse 21

No. 21 PITTSBURGH at TEMPLE 1:00 p.m.

It is an annual ritual.

 Walt Harris has officially blown his opportunity to get into a major bowl. Now his team will get in gear and sew up a minor bowl like it's nobody's business.

That's vintage Pittsburgh. It's like Old Faithful. You can set your watch by it.

The Owls, on the other hand, came within a hair's breadth last week of upsetting mighty Virginia Tech.

Can they resist the annual late season surge of "air Pittsburgh?"

Not a chance. As usual this is the time of year that the Panthers will be seeking redemption and Temple just doesn't have the horses to stop them.

The tandem of Rutherford to Fitzgerald will have a field day against the 105th ranked pass defense in the nation. And Temple can't counter. The Owls don't have the run game to take advantage of Pitt's weakness in defending on the ground; a weakness WVU exploited to the hilt.

No. Now that it is a meaningless game, the Panthers will come on like hell fire and Temple will be helpless to stop them.

The oddsmakers are calling this one Pittsburgh by 15.


Fifteen touchdowns maybe.

I call it ...

Pittsburgh 52 - Temple 15


I don't know where this line came from. Virginia Tech is proving to be a bit of a paper tiger. Boston College, on the other hand, has been at least competitive in all their games.

This game will be a lot closer than the oddsmakers are calling it. Both teams have solid running games. Neither is particularly good at the pass.

Of the two, however, Boston College has better pass/run balance while Tech has both the better running game and the better defense against the run.

The latter is important since BC likes to run the ball behind Derek Knight.

The odds mechanics are calling this game Virginia Tech by 14.5.

I don't think so.

Yes, Tech plays well at Blacksburg, but these aren't the Hurricanes we're talking about.

The Hokies will be excited but not that excited.

I suspect the score will end up ...

Virginia Tech 35 - Boston College 27

RUTGERS at No. 13 MIAMI (ESPN Plus+) Noon

Could Rutgers beat Miami?

Yes, they could.

The Hurricanes are lost as a team. They don't know who to play at their most crucial offensive position (quarterback). They don't have a marquee running back and they'll have no fan support (as usual) at the Orange Bowl. Add to the fact that they are bewildered by losing and have contempt for the Knights and you have all the makings of a team ripe to be upset.

On the other hand Rutgers will be up for the game. Who isn't against Miami and the Knights will be hungry for victory after two bitterly close losses.

Home field advantage? Forget it, it doesn't exist in Miami and besides half the Rutgers team comes from Florida anyway. They'll be more friends and family of Knight players in the stands than Miami partisans.

Yes. Rutgers could beat Miami.

Will they beat Miami?

I tend to doubt it. For all the weaknesses of the Hurricanes this year they still have a top 10 ranked defense and that defense plays especially well against the pass. A great game by Ryan Hart is a must for an upset to occur and it is not even clear that Hart can play. If he does he'll be hobbled and find himself facing one of the top secondaries in the nation.

That is not a pretty picture.

Could Rutgers move the ball on the ground?

Yes, they can. This is an uncharacteristically average Miami run defense and the people at the Orange bowl will be shocked as the Knights rack up yards on the ground against their beloved Hurricanes. But overall I don't think it will be enough.

Even in a bad year Miami is still very good. Their offense isn't spectacular but they are good enough to put points on the board. Their defense is very good and certainly good enough to keep points off the board.

But what about the Vegas line, which RU has abused much of this season?

The oddsmakers call this one Miami by 26.

Miami by 26!?!?

Mortgage your children and lay the money on Rutgers.

My own prediction is ...

Miami 21- Rutgers 17


Mike Fasano: MikeFasano@comcast.net

Mike and the Big Dog's LLC


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