Big East Football Preview

It will take more than this Saturday's slate of games to separate the logjam in the race for the Big East title, but the four league contests will at least begin the process.

STILL OPEN

The Big East remains the only Bowl Subdivision conference in which every member is still mathematically alive for a share of the championship, setting the stage for a wild three weeks to close the regular season. Pittsburgh is 3-1 in Big East play, with a one-game lead in the loss column against four teams with two losses, and is the only team that would clinch the conference's Bowl Championship Series bid simply by winning its remaining games.


LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Syracuse, which is 5-1 in road games this season, is one of three Bowl Subdivision teams that have won five road games. The others are Oregon (5-0) and Boise State (5-0).

Connecticut is 5-0 at home and 0-4 on the road this season.


CONSISTENT PERFORMANCE

UConn's Jordan Todman, who is currently second in the nation in rushing with an average of 147 yards per game, has topped the 100-yard mark in ten of his last 12 contests, including 222 against Pitt.


BLANKED

Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros was held without a touchdown pass for the first time in 12 career starts in West Virginia's 37-10 win last week.



CINCINNATI vs. Rutgers
Sat 11/20
7:30 PM
Big East
Cincinnati and Rutgers first met in the 1980 season and the teams have split 15 previous meetings … Each team has won seven games and the 1989 game ended in a 17-17 tie … Cincinnati has won the last four against Rutgers and is 4-1 against the Scarlet Knights as a Big East member … The schools met on Labor Day last season as Cincinnati began its 12-0 regular season with a 47-15 win behind three touchdown passes from QB Tony Pike … Rutgers is looking for its first win at Nippert Stadium since 1987.

Rutgers looks to bounce back from a losing streak that reached three games after last week's 13-10 loss to Syracuse … Aside from a season-opening win against Norfolk State (31-0) and a Oct. 23 loss to Pittsburgh (41-21), each of Rutgers' other seven games has been decided by no more than five points … The Scarlet Knights are 1-2 on the road this season … QB Chas Dodd (80-for-143, 986 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT) has started the last five games after QB Tom Savage (43-for-83, 521 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT) started the first four … Savage relieved Dodd for the second half of last week's game against Syracuse … Rutgers ranks eighth in the Big East in rushing (112.0 yards per game) … WR Mohamed Sanu is the leading receiver (41 receptions, 398 yards) and rusher (59 carries, 309 yards, four TDs) … LB Antonio Lowery has a team-high 82 tackles, good for third in the Big East … The Scarlet Knights had just seven sacks of opposing quarterbacks prior to last week's game, but had six sacks against Syracuse … Rutgers leads the Big East in turnover margin (0.89 per game) … The Scarlet Knights have scored three special teams touchdowns and have blocked five kicks this season … SS Joe Lefeged has three blocks.

Cincinnati returns home looking to snap a three-game slide … The Bearcats are 2-3 at home this season, but have lost two straight home games … Cincinnati has scored 35, 40 and 45 points in its three wins and has gone 0-6 when it has scored 30 points or fewer … Cincinnati leads the Big East in total offense (409.2 yards per game) , but is seventh in total defense (361.7 ypg) and eighth in scoring defense (25.8 ppg) … QB Zach Collaros returned to the starting lineup last week against West Virginia after missing one game with a knee injury … Collaros leads the Big East in passing (267.4 yards per game) and total offense (274.1 ypg) … Collaros has thrown for 2,139 yards and 20 touchdowns against six interceptions … RB Isaiah Pead is fifth in the Big East in rushing at 87.0 yards per game … WR Armon Binns has 57 receptions for 826 yards and nine touchdowns and leads the Big East in all three categories … LB J.K. Schaffer is second in the conference in tackles (9.4 per game).


CONNECTICUT at Syracuse
Sat 11/20
7:00 PM
ESPNU
Connecticut and Syracuse have met just six times prior to Saturday's game … The Huskies hold a 4-2 series lead and have won the last three meetings … Syracuse is 2-1 against Connecticut in the Carrier Dome, having won in 2004 and 2006 … Connecticut WR Marcus Easley caught a pair of touchdown passes and RB Jordan Todman ran for 123 yards and a TD in last year's 56-31 win for the Huskies … Connecticut coach Randy Edsall is a 1980 graduate of Syracuse and was an assistant at his alma mater from 1980-90 when Syracuse coach Doug Marrone was a player.

Connecticut has won back-to-back games against teams picked first and second in the Big East preseason poll following home field victories against West Virginia (16-13 in overtime) and Pittsburgh (30-28) … Connecticut is 5-0 at home and 0-4 on the road in 2010 … Connecticut ranks last in the Big East in total defense (364.1 yards per game), but the Huskies have forced a Big East-leading 19 turnovers … The Huskies have scored three touchdowns on interception returns and two on kickoff returns … RB Jordan Todman enters the game ranked second nationally in rushing (147.0 yards per game) … Todman has rushed for 1,176 yards and nine touchdowns on 211 carries … QB Zach Frazer has thrown for 871 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions in seven games … WR Michael Smith has 30 receptions for 470 yards and two touchdowns, while WR Kashif Moore has 28 catches for 361 yards and four TDs … LB Lawrence Wilson leads the Big East in tackles (95 total, 10.6 per game) … DE Jesse Joseph has 6.5 sacks, good for fifth in the Big East, while LB Sio Moore is fourth in the conference with 10 tackles for loss.

Having reached one of its stated goals of achieving bowl eligibility, Syracuse enters Saturday's game in second place in the Big East standings … Syracuse would get a share of the Big East title with a win against Connecticut and any Pittsburgh loss in the Panthers' last three games … Syracuse is bowl-eligible for the first time since 2004 season and has clinched its first winning season since 2001 … Syracuse is one of three teams nationally with five road wins (Oregon, Boise State) … Syracuse is receiving votes in all three national polls … The Orange rank ninth nationally in total defense (297.1 yards per game) and 13th in scoring defense (17.8 ppg) … RB Delone Carter is fourth in the Big East in rushing at 93.8 yards per game … Carter has rushed for 938 yards and seven touchdowns on 179 carries … QB Ryan Nassib has thrown for 1,777 yards and 16 touchdowns with six interceptions … WR Van Chew has 36 catches for 563 yards and five touchdowns … LB Derrell Smith is fifth in the Big East in tackles (85) and has team highs of three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries … DE Chandler Jones has a team-high four sacks.


LOUISVILLE vs. West Virginia
Sat 11/20
12:00 PM
Big East
Saturday's game will be the 12th meeting between West Virginia and Louisville in a series that dates to 1984 … West Virginia holds a 9-2 series lead and has won the last three against the Cardinals … The schools produced a triple-overtime thriller in 2005, when West Virginia took a 46-44 win in Morgantown … Last year's meeting saw the Mountaineers keep the Cardinals out of the end zone as West Virginia took a 17-9 win at Milan Puskar Stadium.

West Virginia snapped a two-game slide with a 37-10 win against Cincinnati … The Mountaineers raced to a 30-0 first-half lead against the Bearcats … West Virginia remains the only team in the nation that has not allowed more than 21 points in a game this season … The Mountaineers rank second nationally in scoring defense (13.2 ppg) and fourth in total defense (253.3 ypg) while leading the Big East in both categories … West Virginia also ranks fourth nationally in sacks (3.1 per game) … RB Noel Devine, who has been slowed by nagging injuries, has rushed for 770 yards and five touchdowns … QB Geno Smith has thrown for 1,870 yards and 19 touchdowns with six interceptions after throwing four first-half TDs against Cincinnati … WR Jock Sanders is second in the Big East in receptions (5.8 per game), while WR Tavon Austin is fourth (4.9 per game) … CB Keith Tandy is tied for the Big East lead with five interceptions … DE Bruce Irvin has registered eight sacks, while DE Julian Miller has four … S Terence Garvin has a team-high 57 tackles … Saturday's game is the first of back-to-back road games as the Mountaineers visit Pittsburgh next week.

Louisville remains one win away from bowl eligibility following a 24-21 overtime loss to USF last week … The Cardinals are 3-3 at home this season … Louisville ranks second in the Big East in total offense (391.1 yards per game) and is the top rushing team in the conference (192.2 ypg) … RB Bilal Powell, who enters Saturday's game as the nation's fifth-leading rusher at 134.1 yards per game, has rushed for 1,176 yards and nine touchdowns … QB Justin Burke has started the last two games in place of injured QB Adam Froman … Burke has thrown six touchdown passes with two interceptions in five games this season … WR Doug Beaumont leads a group of three players with at least 300 receiving yards … WR Josh Bellamy has five touchdown receptions to lead the Cardinals … SS Hakeem Smith has a team-high 69 tackles … LB Daniel Brown has four sacks and a team-leading 11 tackles for loss … DT Rodney Gnat is fourth in the Big East with seven sacks …CB Johnny Patrick has a team-high three interceptions.


PITTSBURGH at USF
Sat 11/20
12:00 PM
ESPNU
Pittsburgh and USF meet for the eighth time Saturday in a series that dates to 2001 … The Panthers hold a 4-3 series lead after taking the last two meetings … Pittsburgh is 2-1 at Raymond James Stadium … Pitt raced to a 31-7 halftime lead last year, scoring on its first five drives on its way to a 41-14 win at Heinz Field … Panther QB Bill Stull threw two touchdown passes and RB Dion Lewis ran for 111 yards and two TDs.

Pittsburgh looks to rebound from its first Big East loss of the season, a 30-28 setback at Connecticut … The Panthers still retain a one-game lead in the loss column in the Big East standings … A finish of 2-1 or better in the final three games would give the Panthers at least a share of the Big East title … If Pittsburgh wins all three of its remaining games, it would win the conference title outright for the first time … The Panthers are 1-3 in road games this season … QB Tino Sunseri has completed 66.5 percent of his passes (161 of 242) and has thrown for 1,892 yards and 13 touchdowns with just six interceptions … RB Ray Graham (95.0 yards per game, eight touchdowns) and RB Dion Lewis (69.5 ypg, seven touchdowns) make for one of the top backfield tandems in the nation … WR Jon Baldwin has 39 receptions for 641 yards and five touchdowns … DE Brandon Lindsey is the conference leader in sacks (nine) and tackles for loss (13) … DE Jabaal Sheard is tied for the league lead in sacks … K/P Dan Hutchins is the conference's top-scoring kicker (8.0 ppg) and the leading punter (45.5 avg.).

USF has won three straight games after last week's 24-21 overtime win at Louisville … The win made the Bulls bowl-eligible for the sixth consecutive season … USF stopped the Cardinals on fourth-and-1 from the 4-yard line in overtime before winning on a field goal on its first possession of OT … The Bulls are 6-0 when they have scored more than 14 points and 0-3 when they have been held to 14 points or fewer … USF is 4-1 at home and plays its last two Big East games at Raymond James Stadium … QB B.J. Daniels has thrown for 1,325 yards and nine touchdowns with 11 interceptions … Daniels has rushed for four touchdowns as well, tying RB Moise Plancher for the team lead … Plancher is the leading rusher with 516 yards on 110 carries … WR Dontavia Bogan has team highs with 32 receptions, 484 yards and four touchdown catches … LB Sam Barrington leads the team with 50 tackles … DE Craig Marshall has a team-high four sacks and seven tackles for loss, but has missed the last two games due to a foot injury … K Maikon Bonani has made 11-of- 13 field goal attempts since taking over as the regular placekicker.


RUTGERS at Cincinnati
Sat 11/20
7:30 PM
Big East
Cincinnati and Rutgers first met in the 1980 season and the teams have split 15 previous meetings … Each team has won seven games and the 1989 game ended in a 17-17 tie … Cincinnati has won the last four against Rutgers and is 4-1 against the Scarlet Knights as a Big East member … The schools met on Labor Day last season as Cincinnati began its 12-0 regular season with a 47-15 win behind three touchdown passes from QB Tony Pike … Rutgers is looking for its first win at Nippert Stadium since 1987.

Rutgers looks to bounce back from a losing streak that reached three games after last week's 13-10 loss to Syracuse … Aside from a season-opening win against Norfolk State (31-0) and a Oct. 23 loss to Pittsburgh (41-21), each of Rutgers' other seven games has been decided by no more than five points … The Scarlet Knights are 1-2 on the road this season … QB Chas Dodd (80-for-143, 986 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT) has started the last five games after QB Tom Savage (43-for-83, 521 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT) started the first four … Savage relieved Dodd for the second half of last week's game against Syracuse … Rutgers ranks eighth in the Big East in rushing (112.0 yards per game) … WR Mohamed Sanu is the leading receiver (41 receptions, 398 yards) and rusher (59 carries, 309 yards, four TDs) … LB Antonio Lowery has a team-high 82 tackles, good for third in the Big East … The Scarlet Knights had just seven sacks of opposing quarterbacks prior to last week's game, but had six sacks against Syracuse … Rutgers leads the Big East in turnover margin (0.89 per game) … The Scarlet Knights have scored three special teams touchdowns and have blocked five kicks this season … SS Joe Lefeged has three blocks.

Cincinnati returns home looking to snap a three-game slide … The Bearcats are 2-3 at home this season, but have lost two straight home games … Cincinnati has scored 35, 40 and 45 points in its three wins and has gone 0-6 when it has scored 30 points or fewer … Cincinnati leads the Big East in total offense (409.2 yards per game) , but is seventh in total defense (361.7 ypg) and eighth in scoring defense (25.8 ppg) … QB Zach Collaros returned to the starting lineup last week against West Virginia after missing one game with a knee injury … Collaros leads the Big East in passing (267.4 yards per game) and total offense (274.1 ypg) … Collaros has thrown for 2,139 yards and 20 touchdowns against six interceptions … RB Isaiah Pead is fifth in the Big East in rushing at 87.0 yards per game … WR Armon Binns has 57 receptions for 826 yards and nine touchdowns and leads the Big East in all three categories … LB J.K. Schaffer is second in the conference in tackles (9.4 per game).


SYRACUSE vs. UConn
Sat 11/20
7:00 PM
Big East Network
Connecticut and Syracuse have met just six times prior to Saturday's game … The Huskies hold a 4-2 series lead and have won the last three meetings … Syracuse is 2-1 against Connecticut in the Carrier Dome, having won in 2004 and 2006 … Connecticut WR Marcus Easley caught a pair of touchdown passes and RB Jordan Todman ran for 123 yards and a TD in last year's 56-31 win for the Huskies … Connecticut coach Randy Edsall is a 1980 graduate of Syracuse and was an assistant at his alma mater from 1980-90 when Syracuse coach Doug Marrone was a player.

Connecticut has won back-to-back games against teams picked first and second in the Big East preseason poll following home field victories against West Virginia (16-13 in overtime) and Pittsburgh (30-28) … Connecticut is 5-0 at home and 0-4 on the road in 2010 … Connecticut ranks last in the Big East in total defense (364.1 yards per game), but the Huskies have forced a Big East-leading 19 turnovers … The Huskies have scored three touchdowns on interception returns and two on kickoff returns … RB Jordan Todman enters the game ranked second nationally in rushing (147.0 yards per game) … Todman has rushed for 1,176 yards and nine touchdowns on 211 carries … QB Zach Frazer has thrown for 871 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions in seven games … WR Michael Smith has 30 receptions for 470 yards and two touchdowns, while WR Kashif Moore has 28 catches for 361 yards and four TDs … LB Lawrence Wilson leads the Big East in tackles (95 total, 10.6 per game) … DE Jesse Joseph has 6.5 sacks, good for fifth in the Big East, while LB Sio Moore is fourth in the conference with 10 tackles for loss.

Having reached one of its stated goals of achieving bowl eligibility, Syracuse enters Saturday's game in second place in the Big East standings … Syracuse would get a share of the Big East title with a win against Connecticut and any Pittsburgh loss in the Panthers' last three games … Syracuse is bowl-eligible for the first time since 2004 season and has clinched its first winning season since 2001 … Syracuse is one of three teams nationally with five road wins (Oregon, Boise State) … Syracuse is receiving votes in all three national polls … The Orange rank ninth nationally in total defense (297.1 yards per game) and 13th in scoring defense (17.8 ppg) … RB Delone Carter is fourth in the Big East in rushing at 93.8 yards per game … Carter has rushed for 938 yards and seven touchdowns on 179 carries … QB Ryan Nassib has thrown for 1,777 yards and 16 touchdowns with six interceptions … WR Van Chew has 36 catches for 563 yards and five touchdowns … LB Derrell Smith is fifth in the Big East in tackles (85) and has team highs of three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries … DE Chandler Jones has a team-high four sacks.


USF vs. Pitt
Sat 11/20
12:00 PM
ESPN2
Pittsburgh and USF meet for the eighth time Saturday in a series that dates to 2001 … The Panthers hold a 4-3 series lead after taking the last two meetings … Pittsburgh is 2-1 at Raymond James Stadium … Pitt raced to a 31-7 halftime lead last year, scoring on its first five drives on its way to a 41-14 win at Heinz Field … Panther QB Bill Stull threw two touchdown passes and RB Dion Lewis ran for 111 yards and two TDs.

Pittsburgh looks to rebound from its first Big East loss of the season, a 30-28 setback at Connecticut … The Panthers still retain a one-game lead in the loss column in the Big East standings … A finish of 2-1 or better in the final three games would give the Panthers at least a share of the Big East title … If Pittsburgh wins all three of its remaining games, it would win the conference title outright for the first time … The Panthers are 1-3 in road games this season … QB Tino Sunseri has completed 66.5 percent of his passes (161 of 242) and has thrown for 1,892 yards and 13 touchdowns with just six interceptions … RB Ray Graham (95.0 yards per game, eight touchdowns) and RB Dion Lewis (69.5 ypg, seven touchdowns) make for one of the top backfield tandems in the nation … WR Jon Baldwin has 39 receptions for 641 yards and five touchdowns … DE Brandon Lindsey is the conference leader in sacks (nine) and tackles for loss (13) … DE Jabaal Sheard is tied for the league lead in sacks … K/P Dan Hutchins is the conference's top-scoring kicker (8.0 ppg) and the leading punter (45.5 avg.).

USF has won three straight games after last week's 24-21 overtime win at Louisville … The win made the Bulls bowl-eligible for the sixth consecutive season … USF stopped the Cardinals on fourth-and-1 from the 4-yard line in overtime before winning on a field goal on its first possession of OT … The Bulls are 6-0 when they have scored more than 14 points and 0-3 when they have been held to 14 points or fewer … USF is 4-1 at home and plays its last two Big East games at Raymond James Stadium … QB B.J. Daniels has thrown for 1,325 yards and nine touchdowns with 11 interceptions … Daniels has rushed for four touchdowns as well, tying RB Moise Plancher for the team lead … Plancher is the leading rusher with 516 yards on 110 carries … WR Dontavia Bogan has team highs with 32 receptions, 484 yards and four touchdown catches … LB Sam Barrington leads the team with 50 tackles … DE Craig Marshall has a team-high four sacks and seven tackles for loss, but has missed the last two games due to a foot injury … K Maikon Bonani has made 11-of- 13 field goal attempts since taking over as the regular placekicker.


WEST VIRGINIA at Louisville
Sat 11/20
12:00 PM
Big East
Saturday's game will be the 12th meeting between West Virginia and Louisville in a series that dates to 1984 … West Virginia holds a 9-2 series lead and has won the last three against the Cardinals … The schools produced a triple-overtime thriller in 2005, when West Virginia took a 46-44 win in Morgantown … Last year's meeting saw the Mountaineers keep the Cardinals out of the end zone as West Virginia took a 17-9 win at Milan Puskar Stadium.

West Virginia snapped a two-game slide with a 37-10 win against Cincinnati … The Mountaineers raced to a 30-0 first-half lead against the Bearcats … West Virginia remains the only team in the nation that has not allowed more than 21 points in a game this season … The Mountaineers rank second nationally in scoring defense (13.2 ppg) and fourth in total defense (253.3 ypg) while leading the Big East in both categories … West Virginia also ranks fourth nationally in sacks (3.1 per game) … RB Noel Devine, who has been slowed by nagging injuries, has rushed for 770 yards and five touchdowns … QB Geno Smith has thrown for 1,870 yards and 19 touchdowns with six interceptions after throwing four first-half TDs against Cincinnati … WR Jock Sanders is second in the Big East in receptions (5.8 per game), while WR Tavon Austin is fourth (4.9 per game) … CB Keith Tandy is tied for the Big East lead with five interceptions … DE Bruce Irvin has registered eight sacks, while DE Julian Miller has four … S Terence Garvin has a team-high 57 tackles … Saturday's game is the first of back-to-back road games as the Mountaineers visit Pittsburgh next week.

Louisville remains one win away from bowl eligibility following a 24-21 overtime loss to USF last week … The Cardinals are 3-3 at home this season … Louisville ranks second in the Big East in total offense (391.1 yards per game) and is the top rushing team in the conference (192.2 ypg) … RB Bilal Powell, who enters Saturday's game as the nation's fifth-leading rusher at 134.1 yards per game, has rushed for 1,176 yards and nine touchdowns … QB Justin Burke has started the last two games in place of injured QB Adam Froman … Burke has thrown six touchdown passes with two interceptions in five games this season … WR Doug Beaumont leads a group of three players with at least 300 receiving yards … WR Josh Bellamy has five touchdown receptions to lead the Cardinals … SS Hakeem Smith has a team-high 69 tackles … LB Daniel Brown has four sacks and a team-leading 11 tackles for loss … DT Rodney Gant is fourth in the Big East with seven sacks …CB Johnny Patrick has a team-high three interceptions.


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