Big East Football Preview

High-profile inter-conference match-ups highlight week four of the Big East football schedule

LEAKY

After allowing just 15 sacks in 2009, Cincinnati has given up the same number in just three games this year. No other Big East team has given up more than five.


WIDE OPEN

Wide receivers in the league were very productive last week. Cincinnati's D.J. Woods had six receptions for a career-high 146 yards and two touchdowns against North Carolina State, while Louisville's Doug Beaumont had nine catches for 121 yards against Oregon State. Syracuse's Van Chew tallied seven catches for 113 yards against Maine, Pitt's Jonathan Baldwin had 100 yards on six catches, and West Virginia's Tavon Austin snared six passes for 106 yards and two scores. These are the only five 100+-yard receiving performances in the league so far this year.



CINCINNATI vs. Oklahoma
Sat 9/25
6:00 PM
ESPN2
Cincinnati and Oklahoma have met once prior to Saturday's game … The Sooners took a 52-26 win against Cincinnati Sept. 6, 2008, in Norman, Okla. … The Bearcats were within eight points of Oklahoma until late in the third quarter before the Sooners pulled away … Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford threw for 395 yards and five toucdowns and TE Jermaine Gresham had seven catches for 93 yards and two TDs … Mardy Gilyard had 365 all-purpose yards for Cincinnati, including a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Cincinnati fell to 1-2 with last Thursday's 30-19 loss at North Carolina State … The Bearcats, who had won their first 12 games of last season, find themselves in the unfamiliar position of having lost three of their last four … The game against the Wolfpack was Cincinnati's third in a 12-day span … Cincinnati opened the season with a 28-14 loss at Fresno State before scoring a 40-7 win at home against Indiana State … Head coach Butch Jones reported that RB Isaiah Pead is expected to return to the regular lineup against Oklahoma … Pead had been limited to spot duty with a knee injury … QB Zach Collaros is one of two Big East starting signal-callers who has not thrown an interception in 2010 (Connecticut's Zach Frazer is the other) … Collaros has completed 54 of 89 passes for 659 yards and six touchdowns … WR D.J. Woods, who has 17 receptions for 264 yards and three TDs, has been the primary target … Woods ranks third in the Big East in receiving yards (88.0 ypg), while WR Armon Binns has 16 catches for 209 yards and two TDs and is eighth in the Big East at 69.7 ypg … LB JK Schaffer leads the Big East with 32 tackles and 10.7 tackles per game … Cincinnati has allowed 15 sacks — the most of any team in the nation.

Oklahoma improved to 3-0 as the Sooners held off Air Force 27-24 Saturday … The Sooners began the season with wins against Utah State (31-24) and Florida State (47-17) … Oklahoma will make its first road trip of the season with the visit to Cincinnati … The Sooners were 1-3 in true road games and 2-5 away from Norman last season … QB Landry Jones, who stepped in last season after the season-ending injury to No. 1 overall draft pick Sam Bradford, has completed 73 of 118 passes for 851 yards and seven touchdowns with two interceptions … RB Demarco Murray has averaged 123 yards per game and has six rushing touchdowns … WR Ryan Broyles has 31 receptions for 382 yards and three TDs … DE Jeremy Beal has 2.5 sacks … Oklahoma has outscored its opponents by a combined 102-41 margin in the first three quarters, but has been outscored 24-3 in the fourth quarter


CONNECTICUT vs. Buffalo
Sat 9/25
12:00 PM
Big East Net
Saturday's game will be the 18th meeting between Connecticut and Buffalo since 1939 … The Huskies hold a 13-4 series lead … The last meeting was in the 2008-09 International Bowl, when Connecticut was a 38-20 winner … The Huskies trailed 20-10 in the second quarter, but scored 28 unanswered points to get the win … Connecticut RB Donald Brown capped his collegiate career by rushing for 261 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries and DE Dahna Deleston iced the win with a 100-yard interception return.

Connecticut faces its second straight opponent from the Mid-American Conference Saturday … The Huskies look to get back to the .500 mark after last Saturday's 30-16 loss at Temple … Connecticut opened with a loss at Michigan (30-10) and followed with a 62-3 win against Texas Southern … The Huskies are looking for their third straight home win … Connecticut has outscored its opponents in each of the first three quarters, but has been outscored 25-7 in the fourth quarter … RB Jordan Todman leads the Big East and is fourth nationally in rushing with an average of 149.3 yards per game … Todman has rushed for 448 yards and five touchdowns in three games … QB Zach Frazer has completed 40 of 77 passes for 459 yards and two touchdowns and is one of two Big East starters who has not thrown an interception in 2010 (Cincinnati's Zach Collaros being the other) … The Huskies have two of the top scorers in the Big East in Todman, who leads the league at 10.0 ppg, and K Dave Teggart, who is tied for second at 9.0 ppg … LB Lawrence Wilson has averaged 8.3 tackles per game to rank third in the Big East.

Buffalo enters Saturday's game at 1-2 following a 24-10 loss to Central Florida … Buffalo defeated Rhode Island 31-0 to open the season and fell 34-6 at Baylor in Week 2 … The trip to Connecticut is the first in a string of three straight road games for Buffalo …. The game against Central Florida was tied 10-10 in the fourth quarter before the Knights closed with two late touchdowns … Buffalo head coach Jeff Quinn was the offensive coordinator for two Big East championship teams at Cincinnati (2008, 2009) … The Bulls have averaged 358 yards of offense and allowed an average of 329.3 yards through three games … Buffalo has not scored a point in the fourth quarter this season … QB Jerry Davis has thrown for 655 yards and five touchdowns, but has four interceptions and has completed 48.2 percent of his attempts … RB Branden Oliver is the leading rusher at 48.0 yards per game … WR Marcus Rivers has 23 receptions for 310 yards and a touchdown … FS Davonte Shannon is a three-time All-MAC First Team pick who has a team-high 24 tackles.


LOUISVILLE Open Date
Next Game
Sat Oct. 2
at Ark. St.

PITTSBURGH vs. Miami FL
Thu 9/23
7:30 PM
ESPN
Thursday's game will be the 32nd meeting between Pittsburgh and Miami in a series that dates to 1950 … The Hurricanes hold a 21-9-1 series lead … The last meeting was in 2003, when Miami took a 28-14 win behind 131 rushing yards from RB Jarrett Payton … Pittsburgh is looking to snap a six-game series losing streak to Miami … Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt served as Miami's defensive coordinator from 1986-88 —and was head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2000-04 … Miami head coach Randy Shannon played for Wannstedt-led defenses both as an undergraduate at Miami and with the Dallas Cowboys and was a member of Wannstedt's coaching staff with the Dolphins.

Pittsburgh has not played since a 38-16 win against New Hampshire Sept. 11 … The Panthers opened with a 27-24 overtime loss at Utah … The game against Miami is the second in a three-game home stretch for the Panthers … RB Dion Lewis — the 2009 Big East Offensive Player of the Year — has been held to the two lowest single-game rushing totals of his career in 2010 (75 yards against Utah, 27 against New Hampshire) … Lewis has rushed for two touchdowns … RB Ray Graham had a breakout game against New Hampshire with 115 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries … QB Tino Sunseri has completed 40 of 62 passes for 459 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions … WR Jon Baldwin has 10 receptions for 171 yards and two TDs … Pittsburgh will be without DE Greg Romeus, the 2009 Big East Defensive Player of the Year, who is expected to miss at least most of the season following back surgery … LB Dan Mason has a team-high 13 tackles through two games … DT Chas Alecxih leads the Panthers with three sacks … CB Jarred Holley has two interceptions … The Panthers have forced four turnovers in two games … Pitt did not register a sack against Utah, but had six sacks against New Hampshire … Pittsburgh is 8-for-8 in red zone scoring opportunities.

Like Pittsburgh, Miami has been off since Sept. 11, when the Hurricanes dropped a 36-24 decision to No. 2 Ohio State … Miami opened with a 45-0 win against Florida A&M … The game at Pittsburgh is the second in a string of three straight road games for the Hurricanes, who head to Clemson Oct. 2 … The top player on offense is QB Jacory Harris, who has thrown for 442 yards and four touchdowns with four interceptions through two games …RB Damien Berry has rushed for 139 yarsd on 22 carries, while WR Leonard Hankerson has 13 receptions for 205 yards and two TDs … DL Oliver Vernon has a team-high 3.5 sacks, while LB Colin McCarthy has 16 tackles in two games … A former Miami player has scored at least one touchdown in every week of the NFL regular season since Week 15 of the 2002 season.


RUTGERS vs. North Carolina
Sat 9.25
3:30 PM
ESPNU
Rutgers holds a 3-1 lead in its series with North Carolina … The previous meetings were in 1894, 1919, 2006 and 2008 … Saturday's game is the third of a scheduled four-game series with the Tar Heels that will end when the Scarlet Knights head to Chapel Hill, N.C., next season … North Carolina was a 44-12 winner in Piscataway in 2008 behind a pair of touchdowns from WRs Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate … Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano was the defensive coordinator on North Carolina coach Butch Davis' staff at Miami (Fla.) in 1999 and 2000.

Rutgers is off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2007 after wins against Norfolk State (31-0) and Florida International (19-14) … A win against North Carolina would give Rutgers its fifth 3-0 start since 1980 … Since 2005, Rutgers has gone 8-2 after bye weeks with four consecutive wins after idle weeks … Rutgers ranks third nationally, and leads the Big East, in scoring defense (7.0 points allowed per game) … The Scarlet Knights finished the 2009 season ranked 16th nationally in scoring defense … Rutgers has held its first two opponents to 3-for-25 on third down (12 percent), good for third nationally … WR Mohamed Sanu has rushed for a touchdown, thrown a TD pass and has a touchdown catch … Sanu has seven catches for 90 yards to go with 63 rushing yards this year …QB Tom Savage has completed 17 of 34 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown with one interception … RB Joe Martinek is the leading rusher at 68.5 yards per game … LB Antonio Lowery and LB Steve Beauharnais have a team-high 15 tackles each … DT Alex Silvestro has four tackles for loss … SS Joe Lefeged has two blocked punts, two forced fumbles and an interception.

North Carolina is off to an 0-2 start after consecutive 30-24 losses to Louisiana State and Georgia Tech … The backstory to the Tar Heels' season has been an NCAA investigation that left 12 players sidelined against Georgia Tech last week … Thirteeen players, including seven defensive starters, missed the season-opener against LSU … Despite the absence of key players, North Carolina has had possession with a chance for the winning score in the final minutes of both games … Veteran QB T.J. Yates has completed 46 of 70 passes for 621 yards and four touchdowns without an interception … RB Johnny White has rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown in two games … LB Quan Sturdivant was an All-ACC First Team selection last yhear who leads the Tar Heels with 15 tackles in 2010 … North Carolina has registered just one sack … Head coach Butch Davis was the 2000 Big East Coach of the Year at Miami (Fla.) … Davis led the Hurricanes to Big East titles in 1996 (shared with Virginia Tech and Syracuse) and 2000.


SYRACUSE vs. Colgate
Sat 9/25
3:30 PM
ESPN3.com
Syracuse and Colgate have met 65 times and the Raiders hold a 31-29-5 series lead … The last meeting between the schools was in 1987, when the Orange were 52-6 winners … Syracuse is 3-0 all-time against Colgate in the Carrier Dome … Syracuse hasn't lost to Colgate since a 19-14 win at Archbold Stadium in 1950.

Syracuse stands at 2-1 for the first time since 2004 after the Orange scored a 38-14 win against Maine in their home opener … Syracuse is looking for its first 3-1 start since 1999 … The Orange were 29-3 winners at Akron to start the season and fell at Washington in Week 2 … Syracuse is the only team from an automatic-qualifying BCS conference that opened the season with consecutive road games … At a school with a long history of successful signal-callers, QB Ryan Nassib put his name in the Syracuse record book in just his third career start … Nassib threw for 260 yards and a school-record five touchdowns in the win against Maine … Nassib leads the BIG EAST with eight touchdown passes and has thrown for 691 yards in three games … RB Delone Carter has averaged 82.3 yards per game, good for fourth in the BIG EAST, and has one rushing touchdown … WR Van Chew is second in the Big East in receiving yards (91.7 ypg) … Chew has caught 16 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns … LB Derrell Smith has a team-high 28 tackles to go with three tackles for loss and two forced fumbles … DE Chandler Jones has a team-high two sacks … P Rob Long is an all-America candidate who has averaged 44.0 yards per punt.

Colgate has not played since a 45-15 loss at Furman Sept. 11 … The Raiders began the season with a 30-29 win against Monmouth … Colgate's last game against a Bowl Subdivision opponent was in 2003, when the Raiders defeated Buffalo 38-15 … Colgate head coach Dick Biddle has been named Patriot League Coach of the Year four times, has led the Raiders to six Patriot League titles and six NCAA Championship appearances including the 2003 FCS national title game … Colgate has been outscored in the fourth quarter by a 34-8 margin this season … The Raiders have averaged 226.5 rushing yards and 115.5 passing yards in 2010 … QB Greg Sullivan is a dual threat who has rushed for 131 yards and three touchdowns and has completed 17 of 28 passes for 231 yards and one TD with one interception … The leading rusher is RB Nate Eachus, who has gone for 279 yards and two touchdowns … WR Doug Rosnick has 10 receptions for 128 yards and a TD … LB Chris DiMassa has averaged 12.0 tackles threw two games … DE Lamont Sonds has three sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss … The game at Syracuse is part of a stretch in which the Raiders play four of five away from home … The lone home date in that span is next week's Patriot League opener against Georgetown.


USF vs. W. Ken.
Sat 9/25
7:00 PM
Big East Net
USF holds a 3-2 series lead against Western Kentucky … The teams met last season in Bowling Green, Ky., when the Bulls took a 35-13 win … USF RB Moise Plancher ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns and the Bulls amassed 461 yards of offense in last year's win.

USF has not played since Sept. 11, when the Bulls dropped a 38-14 decision at Florida … The Bulls opened with a 59-14 win against Stony Brook Sept. 4 … USF is 12-8 all-time following a regular-season bye week ….USF is paced on offense by QB B.J. Daniels, who leads the Bulls in rushing and passing … Daniels has rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries and has completed 20 of 42 passes for 348 yards and three touchdowns with four interceptions … RB Demetris Murray has been the first option at tailback … Murray has averaged 58.5 yards per game and has one touchdown … WR Evan Landi (six receptions, 143 yards) and WR Dontavia Bogan (four receptions, 98 yards, 1 TD) are the top two deep threats … Landi has averaged 23.8 yards per reception, while Bogan's mark of 24.5 yards per catch leads the Big East … The Bulls don't have a player with double-digit tackles on the season, but have 11 different players who have made at least five stops … Four different players have registered interceptions … The game against Western Kentucky is the first of three straight home games for USF.

Western Kentucky fell to 0-3 after Saturday's 38-21 loss to Indiana in Bowling Green, Ky. … The Hilltoppers have lost 23 straight games, which is the longest active streak among Bowl Subdivision teams … Western Kentucky's last win was a 50-9 decision against Murray State Sept. 20, 2008 … The game against USF will be Western Kentucky's fourth straight against an opponent from an automatic-qualifying BCS conference … The Hilltoppers opened with a 49-10 loss at Nebraska and fell 63-28 at Kentucky before last weekend's home opener … Western Kentucky has been outscored 52-7 in the second quarter … RB Bobby Rainey has been the top player through three games … Rainey has rushed for 444 yards and five touchdowns on 73 carries and has averaged 148.0 yards per game and 6.1 yards per carry … Rainey enters Saturday's game ranked fifth nationally in rushing … QB Western Kentucky was the first visiting team — at the collegiate or professional level — to win a game Raymond James Stadium when the Hilltoppers defeated USF 31-24 Oct. 17, 1998 … Prior to that date, USF was 2-0 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 2-0 in the stadium … Hilltopper head coach Willie Taggart was the quarterback for WKU in that game.


WEST VIRGINIA at LSU
Sat 9/25
9:00 PM
ESPN2
Saturday's game will be the first meeting between West Virginia and Louisiana State on the gridiron … West Virginia's last game against an opponent from the Southeastern Conference was last year's 41-30 loss at Auburn … LSU hasn't faced a Big East opponent since a 23-10 loss to Syracuse in the 1989 Hall of Fame Bowl.

West Virginia is 3-0 for the first time since 2007 after the Mountaineers took a 31-17 win against Maryland at Milan Puskar Stadium … West Virginia began the 2010 season with a 31-0 win against Coastal Carolina before rallying past Marshall 24-21 in overtime … West Virginia leads the Big East in passing offense (266.7 ypg), pass efficiency (149.8), punt return average (15.8 ypr) total defense (255.7 ypg), rushing defense (62.7 ypg) first downs (23.3 per game), third-down conversions (52.8 percent) and time of possession (34:18) … QB Geno Smith has completed 71 of 101 passes for 800 yards and seven touchdowns against just one interception … Smith leads the Big East in pass efficiency (157.7) and passing yards (266.7 ypg) … RB Noel Devine is second in the conference in rushing at 118.0 yards per game … Devine has rushed for at least 100 yards in all three games … WR Jock Sanders has 19 receptions for 214 yards and a touchdown … LB Anthony Leonard is fifth in the Big East in tackles (7.7 per game), while DE Bruce Irvin registered three sacks against Maryland and ranks third in the conference in that category.

Louisiana State opened the season with back-to-back wins away from home before scoring a 29-7 win against Mississippi State in Baton Rouge, La., last Saturday … LSU opened the 2010 season with a 30-24 win against North Carolina in Atlanta and followed with a 27-3 win at Vanderbilt … LSU's strength thus far has been its ability to both run the ball (203 rushing yards per game) and stop the run (80.3 rushing yards allowed) … RB Stevan Ridley has rushed for 318 yards and two touchdowns and is averaging 106 yards per game … QB Jordan Jefferson has thrown for 344 yards and two touchdowns and has proven to be a capable runner as well … WR Rueben Randle has 10 receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown … LB Kelvin Sheppard has a team-high 27 tackles … DT Drake Nevis leads the team with 3.5 sacks and five tackles for loss … CB Patrick Peterson and CB Morris Claiborne have two interceptions each … K Josh Jasper has made seven consecutive field goals, including five in the win against Mississippi State … LSU has won at least 11 games three times in Les Miles' first five seasons as head coach, including the 2007 season, when the Tigers won the BCS National Championship.


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