Big East Football Preview

Three teams enjoy open dates on the first weekend of October in the Big East


USF's Big East leading 216 rushing yards per game is due partly to competition, and partly to play choice. The Bulls ran the ball 44 times agaisnt Western Kentucky while attmepting just seven passes.


Home field advantage has paid off for Big East teams, which are a combined 12-4 at home this season. Four of the five Big East teams in action this Saturday will play at home, with only Louisville taking to the road to face Arkansas State. The Cardinals, who have been one of college football's best home teams in the last decade, nearly snapped a nine-game road losing streak with a 35-28 setback at No. 25 Oregon State Sept. 18.


Louisville has yet to score a point in the first quarter this year.


The 2010 Big East Network Game of the Week schedule began last Saturday with Connecticut's 45-21 win against Buffalo. The Huskies look for back-to-back wins on the conference's nationally syndicated package when they face Vanderbilt Saturday at noon Eastern. It will be the first home game for Connecticut against an opponent from the Southeastern Conference. Connecticut's last game against an SEC opponent was at the end of the 2009 season, when the Huskies took a 20-7 win against South Carolina in the Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.


The injury bug has seemed to spread through some of the Big East's best running backs this season, with five of the eight schools' dealing with significant injuries at the tailback position. Connecticut's Jordan Todman, who ranks fifth in the nation in rushing, sat out last week's game against Buffalo with an arm injury, while Pittsburgh standout Ray Graham missed the Panthers' opener at Utah with a knee injury. Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead, Rutgers' Joe Martinek, and West Virginia's Noel Devine have played in every game for their respective teams, but all have missed significant snaps while dealing with nagging injuries.

Next Game
Sat Oct. 9
vs. Miami (Oh)

CONNECTICUT vs. Vanderbilt
Sat 10/2
12:00 PM
Big East
Saturday's game will be the second meeting between Connecticut and Vanderbilt … The only previous matchup was the Commodores' 28-24 win in Nashville Oct. 26, 2002 … That game was a battle between future NFL quarterbacks in Connecticut's Dan Orlovsky and Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler … Cutler scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:14 left in the fourth quarter to give Vanderbilt the win … Saturday's game will be Connecticut's first home game against an opponent from the SEC.

Connecticut got back to .500 with a 45-21 win against Buffalo last week … The Huskies, who won the last four games of the 2009 season, are looking for backto- back wins for the first time in 2010 … Connecticut is 2-0 at home and 0-2 on the road this season … Head coach Randy Edsall has announced QB Cody Endres as the starter behind center … Endres, who was suspended from the team for the first three games, came off the bench to throw for 139 yards and two touchdowns in the second half against Buffalo, breaking open a game that was tied at halftime … RB Jordan Todman is ranked fifth nationally in rushing (149.33 ypg) … Todman missed the game against Buffalo with an arm injury … RB Robbie Frey ran for 112 yards and a touchdown in the second half against Buffalo and has gone for 269 yards and three TDs this season … The leading receiver is WR Michael Smith, who has 16 catches for 310 yards and two touchdowns … Smith ranks fifth in the BIG EAST in receiving yards at 77.5 yards per game … LB Lawrence Wilson is averaging 9.8 tackles per game, good for second in the conference … DE Jesse Joseph has a team-high 2.5 sacks, while CB Jerome Junior has two interceptions.

Vanderbilt enjoyed a bye in Week 4 after the Commodores scored their first win of the season with a 28-14 decision at Mississippi Sept. 18 … Vanderbilt opened with a 23-21 loss to Northwestern and a 27-3 setback against LSU prior to the win against Ole Miss … The win against the Rebels was the first head coaching victory for Vanderbilt's Robbie Caldwell, who took over as the head man shortly before the start of the 2010 season … Caldwell became the first Commodore head coach to win his road debut since 1975 … The win also snapped a 10-game SEC losing streak … Vanderbilt has not scored in the first quarter this season … QB Larry Smith has completed 36 of 68 passes for 383 yards and a touchdown with one interception … RB Warren Norman is averaging 6.8 yards per carry and 75.0 yards per game … Norman has rushed for 225 yards and two TDs thus far … SS Sean Richardson has team highs in tackles (29) and tackles for loss (4.5) … CB Casey Hayward has two interceptions and four passes defended … The Commodores have won 14 consecutive games in which they have had a 100-yard rusher.

Sat 9/2
7:00 PM
Saturday's game is just the second meeting between Louisville and Arkansas State … Louisville was a 21-13 winner at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium Oct. 31, 2009, in the first meeting … The Cardinals were forced to start third-string QB Will Stein, who responded by throwing for 232 yards, while RB Darius Ashley added a pair of rushing touchdowns.

Louisville enjoyed a bye last week on the heels of a cross-country trip to play Oregon State Sept. 18 … The Cardinals are 1-2 after a 35-28 setback to the Beavers … Louisville opened with a 23-16 loss to Kentucky and followed with a 23-13 win against Eastern Kentucky … RB Bilal Powell is ranked second in the Big East and 18th nationally in rushing at 109.3 yards per game … Powell has rushed for 328 yards and four touchdowns on 52 carries … QB Adam Froman has completed 51 of 90 passes for 634 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions … Froman is fourth in the Big East in passing (211.3 ypg) and third in total offense (235.0 ypg) … RB Victor Anderson has 114 rushing yards this season, but ranks third in the Big East in all-purpose yards (133.3 ypg) … Anderson is the Big East leader in kickoff returns at 34.6 yards per return …The Cardinals will be without WR Doug Beaumont, who is sidelined with a knee injury …Beaumont ranks third in the Big East in receiving yards (81.3 ypg) … DT Rodney Gnat leads the Big East with 4.5 sacks … LB Shenard Holton has a team-high 20 tackles … K Chris Philpott has made all three of his field goal attempts … Louisville has not scored in the first quarter this season.

Arkansas State fell to 1-3 with a 35-28 loss to Troy last week … It was the third straight Sun Belt Conference game for the Red Wolves, who are 1-2 in league play … The lone opponent outside the Sun Belt thus far was Auburn, which was a 52-26 winner in the season-opener … Arkansas State has averaged 436.5 yards of offense and ranks ninth nationally in passing offense at 309.5 yards per game … QB Ryan Aplin ranks second in the Sun Belt in passing at 299.0 yards per game and leads the conference, and is fifth nationally, in total offense at 335.5 ypg … Aplin has completed 89 of 151 passes for 1,196 yards and six touchdowns against two interceptions … Aplin threw for 237 yards and ran for a team-high 89 last week against Troy … WR Allen Muse has 16 receptions for 332 yards and a touchdown to rank third in the Sun Belt in receiving … LB Javon McKinnon is ninth in the Sun Belt in tackles (7.5 per game) … DT Bryan Hall (2.5) and DT Amos Draper (2.0) rank third and fourth in the conference in sacks … Draper has a team-high 5.5 tackles for loss … FS M.D. Jennings has a team-high two interceptions.

PITTSBURGH vs. Fla. Intl.
Sat 10/2
3:30 PM
Saturday's game will be the first meeting between Pittsburgh and Florida International … It will be Pittsburgh's first game against an opponent from the Sun Belt Conference since 1997, when the Panthers were 45-13 winners against Southwest Louisiana … Florida International coach Mario Cristobal was a freshman on the 1988 Miami (Fla.) team that had Pittsburgh's Dave Wannstedt as defensive coordinator.

Pittsburgh is looking to avoid its first 1-3 start since 2006 … The Panthers come in on the heels of a 31-3 loss to Miami (Fla.) … The 28-point margin of defeat was Pittsburgh's largest in four seasons … The Panthers opened the 2010 season with a 27-24 loss in overtime at Utah and followed with a 38-16 win against New Hampshire … RB Ray Graham ranks third in the Big East in rushing at 107.5 yards per game … RB Dion Lewis — the 2009 Big East Offensive Player of the Year — has been limited to just 47.7 yards per game this season … QB Tino Sunseri has completed 48 of 77 passes for 520 yards and three touchdowns against two interceptions … WR Jon Baldwin has 13 receptions for 197 yards and two touchdowns … The Panther defense has been hit hard by injuries with DE Greg Romeus — the 2009 Big East Defensive Player of the Year — out indefinitely with a back injury and starting LB Dan Mason out for the year with a leg injury … DE Jabaal Sheard has team highs of three sacks and five tackles for loss … CB Jarred Holley has one interception in each of the first three games and is the Big East leader with three picks.

Florida International is looking for its first win of 2010 after the Golden Panthers dropped a 42-28 decision at Maryland last week … The game against Pittsburgh is the fourth in a stretch of games against opponents from automatic-qualifying BCS conferences and the third of those games to be played on the road … Florida International has already faced Texas A&M, Rutgers and Maryland … The school began playing football in 2002, joined the Bowl Subdivision in 2004 and became a member of the Sun Belt Conference in 2005 … Head coach Mario Cristobal inherited a team that went 0-12 in 2006 and has won nine games in the past three years, including a 5-7 season in 2008 … The Golden Panthers have outscored their opponents by a 17-3 margin in the first quarter and by a 28-7 margin in the third quarter, but have been outscored 41-7 in the fourth quarter … The leading rusher is RB Jeremiah Harden, a transfer from Syracuse who has rushed for 191 yards and a touchdown on 54 carries … QB Wesley Carroll has completed 61 of 113 passes for 638 yards and four touchdowns with five interceptions … WR T.Y. Hilton is an explosive player who is averaging 149.7 all-purpose yards per game … FS Jonathan Cyprien has a tem-high 26 tackles.

RUTGERS vs. Tulane
Sat 10/2
2:00 PM
Rutgers and Tulane have met four times prior to Saturday's game … The Scarlet Knights hold a 3-1 series lead … The schools haven't met since Oct. 24, 1998, when the Green Wave took a 52-24 win at Rutgers Stadium on its way to a 12-0 season … That game saw Tulane QB Shaun King throw six touchdown passes — including four in the second quarter — on his way to a 320-yard day.

Rutgers suffered its first loss of the season after North Carolina rallied for a 17-13, come-from-behind win at Rutgers Stadium … Rutgers began the season with a 31-0 win against Norfolk State and a 19-14 win at Florida International … The Scarlet Knights are ranked second nationally in scoring defense (10.3 points per game) … Rutgers has held its opponent to fewer than 20 points 10 times in the past two seasons, including in all three games this year … Rutgers has allowed just four touchdowns through three games … The defense is paced by LB Antonio Lowery, LB Steve Beauharnais and SS Joe Lefeged … Lowery has a team-high 23 tackles with two fumble recoveries … Beauharnais has 21 stops with a sack and two fumble recoveries … Lefeged has 20 tackles with two forced fumbles and an interception to go with two blocked punts … DE Alex Silvestro has a team-high four tackles for loss … WR Mohamed Sanu is the catalyst on offense … Sanu has 16 catches for 164 yards and a touchdown, but also has two rushing touchdowns and a TD pass from the wildcat formation … QB Tom Savage has completed 33 of 63 passes for 370 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions … Rutgers' specal teams units have blocked four kicks this season.

Tulane fell to 1-2 with a 42-23 loss at Houston Saturday … The Green Wave opened the 2010 season with a 27-21 win against Southeastern Louisiana and a 27-13 loss to Mississippi … The game against Rutgers is the second in a stretch in which Tulane plays four of five on the road … Tulane is 1-12 on the road in the past three seasons … Two quarterbacks have played in all three games, with QB Ryan Griffin making three starts … Griffin suffered a separated shoulder against Houston, leaving QB Kevin Moore to finish the game …Moore has completed 12 of 26 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns … RB Orleans Darkwa has a team-high four rushing touchdowns and has averaged 46.3 yards per game … WR Casey Robottom and WR D.J. Banks get most of the receptions … LB Trent Mackey is ranked third nationally in tackles (12.7 per game) … DT Justin Adams has three sacks and six tackles for loss and is ranked ninth nationally with 2.0 tackles for loss per game … CB Phillip Davis has a team-high two interceptions.

Next Game
Sat Oct 9
at USF

USF vs. Fla. Atl.
Sat 10/2
7:00 PM
USF and Florida Atlantic have met twice previously … The Bulls are 2-0 all-time against the Owls, with the last meeting in 2007 … The Bulls were 35-23 winners that year as USF RB Benjamin Williams ran for 186 yards and four touchdowns, while Florida Atlantic QB Rusty Smith threw for 259 yards and three TDs.

USF returned from a bye week and improved to 2-1 with a 24-12 win against Western Kentucky … The Bulls are looking for their first back-to-back wins of the season … The lone loss was a 38-14 setback at No. 8 Florida … USF leads the Big East in rushing offense (216.7 yards per game) and is second in soring offense (32.3 ppg) and total offense (392.0 ypg) … The Bulls kept the ball on the ground for 44 of their 55 offensive plays against Western Kentucky … QB B.J. Daniels has completed 27 of 53 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns with five interceptions … Daniels also is averaging 55.3 rushing yards and has scored two TDs on the ground … RB Demetris Murray is averaging 77.3 yards per game and 6.6 yards per carry … WR Dontavia Bogan missed the game against Western Kentucky with an ankle injury, but head coach Skip Holtz suggested that Bogan could return to the field Saturday … Bogan has averaged 24.5 yards per reception through his first two games … P Justin Brockhuas-Kahn is the Big East leader in punting with an average of 48.1 yards per punt.

Florida Atlantic enters Saturday's game at 1-2 following a 21-17 loss to North Texas last week … The Owls edged Alabama-Birmingham 32-31 to open the season before falling 30-17 at Michigan State … The school started varsity football in 2001 and played as a Championship Subdivision independent until 2003 … The Owls has played in back-to-back bowl games in 2007 and 2008 before falling to 5-7 last season … Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger has had previous head coaching stops at Miami (Fla.), Louisville and Oklahoma and led Miami to the 1983 national championship … Schnellenberger also helped Alabama to three national titles (1961, 1964, 1965) as offensive coordinator under Bear Bryant … Schnellenberger began the year ranked 10th among active Bowl Subdivision coaches in career wins (153) … The Owls play only four home games this season … RB Alfred Morris gets most of the work on the ground with 53 carries for 211 yards and three touchdowns this season … QB Jeff Van Camp has thrown five touchdown passes against two interceptions and has completed 63.7 percent of his attempts (58 of 91) … WR Lester Jean has averaged 105.7 receiving yards per game, good for ninth nationally.

Next Game
Sat 10/9
vs. UNLV

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