Fearless Forecasts

Matei's Picks


SU has won the last three meetings and holds an 11-1 advantage in BIG EAST play.

A monumental game for Syracuse (5-5, 2-4 BIG EAST) which still maintains bowl eligibility hopes, however slim the chances. With 5 other Big East teams already with 7 or more wins, the Orange need to win their last 2 contests to attain realistic bowl hopes. Rutgers (4-7, 1-5 BIG EAST) comes into this match still yearning for that first signature program win.  The Scarlet Knights have looked very good at times, and very bad at times, as one would expect of a team still learning how to win.  However, the endgame opportunities have been there for Rutgers and  this game looks to be no different.
There are several keys that will determine the outcome of this contest.  First  and foremost is turnovers.  The team to keep control of the ball will give itself a chance to win.  Special teams: if Rutgers is to pull off the upset, it needs to win this battle. Each team's rushing attack will be used as a primary ofensive weapon.  Walter Reyes brings in a 5.2ypc average  (including 1118 total  yards) and will present a huge challenge for a Rutgers defense that has been inconsistent (at best) against the run.  Against Miami, Rutgers fared well as they dared BB to throw against them - against Syracuse, the combination of R.J. Anderson to Morant will put the RU secondary in a formidable position. 

This is of course, senior day.  And several of them, led by Raheem Orr, and Nate  Jones, would like nothing more than to go out on top, indeed sending a message to their younger compatriots that times have changed.   Rutgers will  feature their typical run-oriented style attack.  Ofcourse, it all starts with the offensive line and whether they can dictate play.  Whether  Brian Leonard and Justice Hairston can play in the same backfield again will be important - though #23 has been nothing short of superb this year one can make the other that much better (scary thought for the future).
RU will have to play 60 minutes of very good ball in all facets.  The secondary  will be tested; the defensive front four will have their hands full.  The  offense will be challenged if put to the test of going score for score with the Orange.  And the special teams need to perform.

This is Senior Day.  And this is a different Rutgers.

Rutgers 27 - Syracuse 23

TEMPLE at No. 24 WEST VIRGINIA 1:00 p.m.

The Mountaineers have won 11 of the past 12 between the teams.

Scary game for West Virginia (7-4, 5-1 BIG EAST) against a Temple (1-10, 0-6  BIG  EAST) squad that has looked downright good in their previous 2 contests.  

West Virginia is due for a letdown after superb performances virtually every contest since the Miami game.  I mean, this is Temple, every team's cure for previously disappointing performances.

As we have found out the last 2 weeks, Temple, despite their record, is no pushover.  They took Va. Tech to OT and they battled valiantly against a solid Pitt team.  However, Temple also boasts the worst run defense in the league - a  tough statistic when going up against the #14 run offense in the country.   Quincy Wilson leads a vaunted Mountaineer running attack that will be ready to   go for as the EEers celebrate their own Senior Day.

Vegas says WVU by 21.

I say, Quincy Wilson runs for more than 200 yards, and Temple is put out of its misery early.

Temple 14 - No. 24 West Virginia 40

No. 10 MIAMI at No. 20 PITTSBURGH (ABC) 8:00 p.m. 

Winner earns at least a share of the BIG EAST title.

The premier Big East match of the day.

Well, let's see.  Miami (9-2, 5-1 BIG EAST) doesn't have a quarterback.  Their offensive attack isn't even a ghost of their former selves.  Do the Hurricanes have a chance?

Well, yes - that defense they boast will be one of the toughest Pitt (8-3, 5-1 BIG EAST) has seen all year.  Larry "All World" Fitzgerald will be bottled up by one of the premiere secondaries in the country.  However, as has happened so often this year, the opposing defense will focus solely on stopping "ALL World"
Kris Wilson and Princell Brockenbrough, both with more than 500 yards receiving this year, will look to punish the opposing D.  Add to that a re-born rushing attack due to the re-emergence of Brandon Miree and you have an offense that will outperform the Miami D.
The torch will be passed, as we crown a new Big East king.

No. 10 MIAMI 17 - No. 20 PITTSBURGH 27


No. 21 Virginia Tech at Virginia (ABC) 1:00 p.m.

Tech has won four straight against the Cavaliers.

Virginia Tech (8-3, 4-3 BIG EAST) must be the most disappointing team in the Big East this year.  With national title aspirations they played like world-beaters  early on.  But, much like last year, they have completed a 360 degree turn, and gone from premiere to average.  Despite this the Hokies still have 8 wins,  though all 3 of their losses have come in conference play.

Virginia (6-5, 4-4 ACC) is a middle of the road ACC team, the exact type that the Hokies should have no problems with...right? Wrong!! Matt Schaub, the reigning ACC Player of the Year, is playing in his last game as a Cavalier. The Hokies defense, not nearly as dominating as they once were will have a difficult time stopping Schaub, who has thrown for over 2300 yards this year.

Virginia Tech is simply not the same team they were back in early September.    They still boast Heisman hopeful Kevin Jones, but have little to offer besides that.  Jones will have yet another big game, and he will keep the Hokies in this contest, but yet again, in a losing effort.

No. 21 Virginia Tech 26 - Virginia 28






Mike's Picks


This is a game not unlike the Rutgers game against Boston College - a game Rutgers could have and should have won. The Scarlet will face a Syracuse  team with a solid run game and little else, the Orange are a team that passes only as an afterthought. In fact, Syracuse has even less run / pass balance than Boston College

When Syracuse is on offense they focus on their talented tailback, Walter Reyes. That's good, but opponents have figured out that the Orange cannot move the ball through the air. The Orange passing game is one of the worst in the nation.

The goal here for Rutgers is obvious. Shut down Reyes when the Orange have the ball and dare Syracuse to win with the pass.

When Rutgers is on offense the key will be the pass game. Syracuse defends the run well, but not the pass. They are ranked 82nd in the nation in pass efficiency defense.

On offense the Knights should use the pass to set up the run and take advantage of the Orange's questionable secondary. The Knights have an array of wide outs, tight ends and running backs to slip the ball to and they have clearly shown the ability to mount a diversified attack through the air.

If Rutgers does that, they will win this game handily. If, on the other hand, Schiano pulls a "Boston College" and tries to "establish the run" all day against a solid Syracuse run defense, the Knights will lose.

Vegas is banking on Schiano to blow the call. They have the Orangemen favored by 5.5.

I am betting that Schiano gets this one right.

Rutgers 35 - Syracuse 24

TEMPLE at No. 24 WEST VIRGINIA 1:00 p.m.

West Virginia is hot. The Mountaineers have won six straight including wins over Boston College (away), Syracuse (away), Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh.

Temple at home will be a snap.

However, Vegas has called this one WVU by 21.

Will the Mounties cover?

Probably. The only thing that the Owls have going for them is a decent passing game. WVU has a good pass defense, a good run defense and a great running game. Add to that the fact that this game is in Morgantown and Rich Rodriguez finishes the season with a bang.

West Virginia 42 - Temple 20

No. 10 MIAMI at No. 20 PITTSBURGH (ABC) 8:00 p.m.

This is the second huge game in Pittsburgh this season. In the first contest the Panthers upset the Virginia Tech Hokies 31-28.

A win means a major bowl bid, a share of the Big East Championship and a boot in the butt to departing Miami.

Can the Panthers do it?


It is true that the Miami passing attack has been anemic this year but the Hurricanes just need a decent passing attack to win this game. That's because the Pittsburgh run defense is ranked 87th in the nation and Miami has discovered its running back of the future in Tyrone Moss. Moss and Jarret Payton will not only establish the run against the Panthers, they'll take the crowd out of the game each time they rip a major gain on the ground.

Yes, Pitt has Larry Fitzgerald and even the talented Miami secondary will have fits trying to stop him. But Pitt has no running attack at all to give them balance. A team as one-dimensional as Pittsburgh simply isn't going to beat the Hurricanes ... home field advantage or not ... Larry Fitzgerald or not. Add to that the fact that Miami is one of the best sack teams in the league and that Pitt is one of the worst defending against the sack and you can figure that the "Rutherford - Fitzgerald" cartel will have a tough time carrying the day.

Vegas calls this game Miami by 3

I call it...

Miami 27 - Pittsburgh 21

No. 21 Virginia Tech at Virginia (ABC) 1:00 p.m.

This is a huge game for these intra state rivals which is even bigger than usual this year. The two teams are not just fighting for home state bragging rights but now for leverage in the recruiting wars of the ACC.

Virginia Tech started out this year as a ball of fire and slumped into mediocrity as the season wore on.

Virginia has been much more consistent. They have been mediocre from day one.

This game is going to be televised on ABC. Who knows why, perhaps they'll bill it as the "Mediocre Bowl".

Tech has a running game but no passing game.

Virginia has a passing game but no running game.

Tech has an overall better defense but the Cavaliers have the home field advantage.

Who's going to win this big ACC matchup?

Who cares.

Vegas calls it Virginia by 1.5

Yawn. I think Tech pulls it out

Virginia Tech 27- Virginia 24


Mike Fasano: MikeFasano@comcast.net

Mike and the Big Dog's LLC

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