Big East Preview

Big East teams face foes from the ACC, Pac12, Big XII, SEC and Big Ten this week as the league hopes to rebound from a mediocre Week Two


The Big East plays both BCS teams this week, as UConn hosts Iowa State on Friday night while Pitt travels to Iowa on Saturday. There is no truth to the rumor that one of the losers will have to take home the hideous Cy-Hawk Trophy.


Big East teams occupy the top three places among the NCAA turnover margin leaders in 2011. Rutgers leads the nation (4.00 per game), while Cincinnati is second (3.50) and USF is third (3.00). Contributing to that statistic, the Bearcats and Mountaineers are two of just five FBS teams that have not committed a turnover this year. The other three are San Diego State, Texas A&M and Wisconsin. Rutgers has built its margin by forcing nine turnovers in two games.


Connecticut head coach Paul Pasqualoni is tied with Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer for the most wins as a Big East head coach (108). He will have his second chance to claim the record for his own this week.


I really thought the Big East might have turned the corner, but last week's results showed the league is still floundering. In the immortal words of The Who, "We won't get fooled again".

  • USF has what appears to be the easiest game of the week, and should roll to another convincing win. After that, there's not one Big East team that is safe.

  • Cincinnati is the pick to hold off Akron, but the Bearcats are in a precarious spot after getting rolled at Tennessee last week.

  • Iowa figures to be steaming after getting knocked off by Iowa State in triple overtime last week, and will take it out on Pitt at home.

  • Neither Louisville nor Kentucky is scaring any opposition so far, so we'll go with the home Wildcats to get that win.

  • Iowa State may be ripe for a letdown after knocking off the Hawkeyes, and while UConn lost to SEC bottom feeder Vanderbilt, it might have enough on defense to keep the Cyclones at bay.

  • Although this isn't the USC of old, Syracuse won't be a big threat after traveling cross country to meet the Trojans.

  • West Virginia's first half woes should disapper this week, and although Maryland will test the Mountaineer defense much more strenuously, WVU will score enough to get the win.

    CINCINNATI vs. Akron
    Sat 9/17
    3:30 PM
    Saturday's game will be the sixth meeting between Cincinnati and Akron … The Bearcats are 3-2 against the Zips and have won the last two matchups … The most recent meeting was in 2008, when Cincinnati was a 17-15 winner in Akron, Ohio … QB Tony Pike threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns for the Bearcats, who got the winning points on a 48-yard field goal by K Jacob Rogers midway through the fourth quarter.

    Cincinnati finds itself at 1-1 following a 45-23 setback at Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn. … The Bearcats were tied with the Vols at 14-14 after the first quarter, but were unable to keep pace the rest of the way … Cincinnati opened 2011 with a 72- 10 win against Austin Peay … The Bearcats have averaged 478.5 yards of offense and have allowed an average of 404.0 yards … Cincinnati is averaging 7.3 yards per offensive play … The Bearcats are 10-for-10 in red zone scoring with nine touchdowns … Cincinnati has been led by QB Zach Collaros, who has completed 33 of 53 passes for 364 yards and six touchdowns without an interception … RB Isaiah Pead is averaging 11.5 yards per carry and has rushed for 242 yards and three touchdowns on 21 attempts … Pead has broken his first carry for a touchdown in each of Cincinnati's two games this year … WR D.J. Woods has 13 receptions for 170 yards and a TD … WR Anthony McClung has a team-high three touchdown receptions … The Bearcats have five fumble recoveries on defense, have not turned the ball over, and rank second nationally in turnover margin (+3.5 per game) … LB J.K. Schaffer has a team-high 15 tackles with two pass breakups and an interception … WR Ralph David Abernathy has averaged a solid 31.2 yards on kickoff returns.

    Akron has struggled to an 0-2 mark to start the 2011 season after a 42-0 loss to Ohio State and a 41-3 setback to Temple … The Zips were 1-11 last season, with the lone win coming against Buffalo in the season finale … Head coach Rob Ianello was an assistant at Notre Dame from 2005-09 before taking over at Akron … The Zips won the Mid-American Conference title in 2005, but have not had a winning season since … Akron has faced a BIG EAST team each year since 2006 and has gone 1-5 against the conference since then … Akron has averaged just 179.5 yards of offense and allowed 466.5 yards through two games … QB Clayton Moore has taken most of the snaps and has thrown for 246 yards with two interceptions … Akron quarterbacks have been sacked a combined 13 times in two games … WR Marquelo Suel has a team-high five receptions for 110 yards … LB Brian Wagner leads the team with 22 tackles … The Zips have not registered a sack or an interception this season.

    CONNECTICUT vs. Iowa St.
    Fri 9/16
    8:00 PM
    Friday's game will be the second meeting between Connecticut and Iowa State … The only previous matchup was Nov. 23, 2002, in a battle of future NFL quarterbacks … Connecticut QB Dan Orlovsky threw three touchdown passes to lead the Huskies to a 37-20 win in Ames, Iowa … Iowa State's signal-caller in that game was Seneca Wallace, who threw for 216 yards and was intercepted four times … At the time, the win was considered the greatest in Connecticut's history — it was the Huskies' first against a team that would eventually play in a bowl game.

    Connecticut saw its six-game regular-season winning streak snapped with a 24-21 setback at Vanderbilt, leveling the Huskies' record at 1-1 … The Huskies have averaged 147.5 rushing yards through two games, but have struggled in the passing game, with an average of 166.0 yards in the air … Three Connecticut quarterbacks have combined to complete just 46 percent of their passes with one touchdown and four interceptions … RB Lyle McCombs has been a bright spot on offense with an average of 129.5 rushing yards per game and four touchdowns … QB Johnny McEntee has started both games in 2011 and has completed 18 of 39 passes for 212 yards and three interceptions … The top receiver is TE Ryan Griffin, who has seven catches for 144 yards and a touchdown … The Huskies have been stout defensively, holding their first two opponents to an average of 214.0 yards … Connecticut has allowed just two offensive touchdowns … LB Jory Johnson has a team-high 19 tackles to go with an interception … LB Sio Moore leads the BIG EAST with 3.5 sacks, while DE Teddy Jennings has a league-leading five tackles for loss … K David Teggart is 2-for-2 on field goal attempts.

    Iowa State enters Friday's game on the heels of what might have been the most exciting game of the young season — a 44-41 win against Iowa in triple-overtime in Ames, Iowa … The Cyclones are 2-0 for the first time since 2008 and look for their first 3-0 start since 2005 … Iowa State has rallied in the fourth quarter to win in each of its first two games this year … The Cyclones came from behind three different times against Iowa in the fourth quarter and overtime periods against Iowa … The Cyclones opened the season with a 20-19 win against Northern Iowa … QB Steele Jantz keyed the win against Iowa with four touchdown passes … Jantz has thrown for 466 yards and five TDs on 43-of-77 passing this year … Head coach Paul Rhoads is no stranger to the BIG EAST, having served as defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh from 2000-07 … Defensive coordinator Wally Burnham held a similar position at USF from 2002-08.

    LOUISVILLE at Kentucky
    Sat 9/17
    7:00 PM
    Saturday's game will be the 24th meeting between Louisville and Kentucky in a rivalry that dates to 1912 … The Wildcats hold a 14-9 series lead and have won the last four meetings in the series … Last year's game marked the debut of both schools' head coaches as Joker Phillips' Wildcats edged Charlie Strong's Cardinals 23-16 … Kentucky RB Derrick Locke rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns, while Louisville RB Bilal Powell went for 153 yards and one TD last year.

    Louisville evened its record at 1-1 after the Cardinals fell 24-17 to Florida International last Friday … The Cardinals opened with a 21-9 win against Murray State and play their first road game of the 2011 season … Louisville came into the season relatively inexperienced at the quarterback position, but has received solid play from QB Will Stein, who has completed 62.7 percent of his passes (47 of 75) for 575 yards and four touchdowns without an interception … Stein ranks second in the BIG EAST in passing at 287.5 yards per game … The leading receiver has been TE Josh Chichester, who has eight catches for 150 yards … WR DaVante Parker has a team-high two touchdown receptions … Louisville boasts a solid two-man tandem in the backfield … RB Victor Anderson has rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, while RB Jeremy Wright has 85 yards on 29 attempts … Louisville's offensive line has allowed seven sacks in two games … LB Dexter Heyman has team highs of 18 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack and an interception … LB Preston Brown and LB Daniel Brown have 14 tackles each.

    Kentucky is 2-0 after the Wildcats rallied past Central Michigan 27-13 Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium … Kentucky trailed 10-3 after the first quarter and 13-6 at halftime before scoring 21 unanswered points in the second half … The Wildcats were 14-3 winners against Western Kentucky in the opener … Kentucky went 6-7 last year and fell to Pittsburgh 27-10 in the BBVA Compass Bowl … The Wildcats have not allowed a point in the second half … QB Morgan Newton has completed 44.4 percent of his passes (16 of 36) for 211 yards and two touchdowns with four interceptions … RB Josh Clemons is averaging 82.5 rushing yards per game and has two touchdowns … WR La'Rod King is the top receiver with seven catches for 142 yards and two TDs … The offensive line has allowed six sacks through two games … All-SEC First Team LB Danny Trevathan led the league with 144 tackles last year and has a team-high 26 this season … Trevathan also has three tackles for loss and an interception … LB Winston Guy has 23 tackles and a team-high two interceptions … The Wildcats have six interceptions this season.

    PITTSBURGH at Iowa
    Sat 9/17
    12:00 PM
    Saturday's game will be the fifth meeting between Pittsburgh and Iowa in a series that dates to Oct. 3, 1931 (a 20-0 Panther win) … The schools played in 1951 and 1952 and didn't renew acquaintances until 2008, when the Panthers scored a 21-20 win at Heinz Field … Pitt is 3-1 in the series, with Iowa's lone win coming in 1951 (34-17 in Iowa City) … The 2008 matchup featured three current NFL running backs as Pittsburgh's LeSean McCoy and LaRod Stephens-Howling combined for 114 yards and a touchdown, while Iowa's Shonn Greene went for 147 yards and a TD.

    Pittsburgh takes a 2-0 record into its first road game of the season after the Panthers scored a 35-29 win against Maine at Heinz Field … Pittsburgh opened the 2011 season with a 35-16 win against Buffalo … RB Ray Graham enters Saturday's game as the nation's leading rusher … Graham is averaging 161.0 yards per game and his six rushing touchdowns tie Temple's Bernard Pierce for the national lead … Graham rushed for 201 yards and three touchdowns in the opener against Buffalo and followed with a 121-yard, three-TD effort against Maine … QB Tino Sunseri has completed 37 of 63 passes for 403 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions this year … WR Mike Shanahan has nine receptions for 134 yards and a TD this year … LB K'Waun Williams has a team-high 15 tackles, while LB Max Gruder has 13 … DE Brandon Lindsey — the BIG EAST sacks leader last season — has registered two sacks in 2011 … DT Chas Alecxih has the Panthers' only interception … K Kevin Harper has hit just 2 of 5 field goal attempts … P Matt Yoklic has been solid with an average of 42.7 yards per punt … Ronald Jones has averaged 10.8 yards on punt returns, good for second in the BIG EAST.

    Iowa comes into Saturday's game on the heels of a 44-41 triple-overtime setback to Iowa State Saturday in Ames, Iowa … The Hawkeyes opened the season with a 34-7 win against Tennessee Tech … Iowa's offensive line has allowed just one sack through two games … RB Marcus Coker has rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns on 46 carries through two games … QB James Vandenberg has thrown for 426 yards and four touchdowns without an interception … WR Marvin McNutt — an All-Big Ten Second Team pick last year, has averaged 100.5 receiving yards per game …McNutt has 10 catches for 201 yards and two TDs … LB Chris Kirksey has a team-high 23 tackles … Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz was a captain of the 1977 football team at Connecticut and was a graduate assistant at Pittsburgh in 1980 under coach Jackie Sherrill.

    RUTGERS Open Date
    Next Game
    Sat 9/24
    vs. Ohio

    Sat 9/17
    8:00 PM
    Syracuse and USC meet for just the third time Saturday … The Trojans have won both previous meetings — a 16-0 decision Dec. 6, 1924 at the Coliseum and a 34- 16 win Aug. 31, 1990 at Giants Stadium in the Kickoff Classic … USC's quarterback in the 1990 game was Todd Marinovich, the older brother of Syracuse DE Mikhail Marinovich … Todd Marinovich threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns against Syracuse in that game.

    Syracuse has had to work for its 2-0 start as the Orange have scored season-opening wins against Wake Forest (36-29 in overtime) and Rhode Island (21-14) … Syracuse scored the last 22 points of the win against Wake Forest, overcoming a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit … The Orange were tied with Rhode Island into the fourth quarter before getting the winning touchdown midway through the period … Syracuse is 2-0 for the first time since 1999 … The Orange have averaged 326.5 yards per game and have allowed an average of 336.0 yards … Syracuse has outscored its opponents by a 22-3 margin in the fourth quarter … QB Ryan Nassib has completed 75.4 percent of his passes (49 of 65) for 496 yards and six touchdowns with one interception … WR Alec Lemon has 17 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown, while WR Van Chew has 12 receptions for 194 yards and two TDs … RB Antwon Bailey has been the primary back and has 157 rushing yards and two touchdowns … S Shamarko Thomas has a team-high 16 tackles … LB Dyshawn Davis leads the team with two sacks, while S Phillip Thomas has a team-high two interceptions and three passes defended.

    USC is 2-0 after the Trojans were 23-14 winners against Utah in their Pac-12 opener … The teams left the field believing the final score to be 17-14, but a review of the final play of the game — a 68-yard blocked field goal return for a touchdown — amended the score two hours after the final gun … The Trojans opened with a 19-17 win against Minnesota … QB Matt Barkley has completed 70.1 percent of his passes, going 54-for-77 for 568 yards and four touchdowns with one interception in two games … RB Marc Tyler returned from a team-imposed suspension to rush for 113 yards on 24 carries in the win against Utah … WR Robert Woods is averaging 139.5 receiving yards per game, with 25 catches for 279 yards and three touchdowns … The defense has been led by LB Hayes Pullard, who has 16 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss … DE Nick Perry has a team-high two sacks, while CB Torin Harris has the Trojans' lone interception … USC's special teams registered seven blocked kicks last season and already has two blocks in 2011.

    USF vs. Florida A&M
    Sat 9/17
    7:00 PM
    Big East Network
    The only previous meeting between USF and Florida A&M was in 2005, when the Bulls were 37-3 winners at Raymond James Stadium … USF RB Andre Hall ran for 156 yards and three touchdowns in that game.

    USF turned in an impressive performance from start to finish in the Bulls' 37-7 win against Ball State to improve to 2-0 … The Bulls opened the season with a 23-20 win at Notre Dame … USF has not allowed a point in the first half and has allowed just seven points in the first three quarters this season … The Bulls have outscored their first two opponents by a 46-0 margin in the first half … USF has averaged 386.5 yards per game on offense and has allowed an average of 366.5 yards … The Bulls had a school-record 33 first downs and ran 88 offensive plays against Ball State … QB B.J. Daniels has led the way offensively, completing 66.7 percent of his passes (46 of 69) for 487 yards and two touchdowns with one interception … RB Darrell Scott — a transfer from Colorado — is the leading rusher with 115 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries … WR Sterling Griffin has a team-high 12 catches for 127 yards … Six different players have accounted for USF's six touchdowns … LB DeDe Lattimore has 16 tackles to go with one sack, 2.5 tackles for loss, an interception and a forced fumble … DE Claude Davis has a team-high three sacks … The Bulls have forced eight turnovers in their two games … K Maikon Bonani has made 6 of 9 field goal attempts.

    Florida A&M enters Saturday's game at 1-1 following a 23-17 loss at Hampton Thursday … The Rattlers started the 2011 season with a 28-22 win against Fort Valley State … Florida A&M went 8-3 last season and won a share of the MEAC title … Head coach Joe Taylor inherited a team that was 3-8 in the year prior to his arrival at Florida A&M and has gone 26-9 since taking over in 2008 … Taylor had previously spent 16 years as head coach at Hampton and has led his teams to 14 straight winning seasons … The Rattlers have averaged 268.5 passing yards and just 40.5 rushing yards through two games in 2011 … QB Austin Trainor has thrown for 537 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions … WR Kevin Elliott has nine receptions for 174 yards and a touchdown … Florida A&M has averaged just 1.6 yards per rushing attempt … LB Demarius Folsom has a team-high 19 tackles with two sacks … FS John Ojo has two interceptions to lead the team … Florida A&M gained recognition in 2008 as a site of ESPN's College GameDay, becoming just the second FCS school to host the program.

    WEST VIRGINIA at Maryland
    Sat 9/17
    12:00 PM
    West Virginia and Maryland meet for the 58th time Saturday in a series that dates to 1919 … West Virginia holds a 24-21-2 series lead and has won five straight against the Terps … The schools met every year from 1980-2007 before a two-year hiatus in the rivalry … Mountaineer QB Geno Smith threw for 268 yards and four touchdowns in last year's 31-17 win in Morgantown, W.Va.

    West Virginia is 2-0 for the third straight year after the Mountaineers took a 55-12 win against Norfolk State at Milan Puskar Stadium … West Virginia opened with a 34-13 win against Marshall and takes to the road for the first time in 2011 … West Virginia is 21-2 at home and 7-8 on the road since 2008 … The Mountaineers have scored 86 of their 89 points after the first quarter this season … West Virginia has allowed only three second-half points … QB Geno Smith is averaging 310.0 yards per game and leads the Big East in passing yards, total offense and pass efficiency rating (170.8) … Smith has completed 46 of 69 passes for 620 yards and six touchdowns without an interception … Four receivers have between seven and nine catches and between 110 and 151 yards … Six different players have at least one touchdown reception … The Mountaineers have averaged 72.0 rushing yards per game … WR Tavon Austin is the national leader in kickoff returns (48.0 yards per return) … The Mountaineers have registered just one sack, but lead the Big East in pass efficiency defense (175.0) … West Virginia is the only Big East team that has not allowed a touchdown pass … DB Darwin Cook has a team-high 15 tackles.

    Maryland is off to a 1-0 start under new head coach Randy Edsall — the former Connecticut coach and 2010 Big East Coach of the Year — who led the Terrapins to a 32-24 win against Miami (Fla.) on Labor Day … The Terps scored 32 points despite scoring just one offensive touchdown … The Terps had a bye in Week 2 … The game against West Virginia is the second in a string of four straight home games to open the season … The Terps were 9-4 last season and defeated East Carolina 51-20 in the Military Bowl … QB Danny O'Brien, who came off the bench and didn't attempt a pass in last year's game against West Virginia, was the 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year after he threw for 2,438 yards and 22 touchdowns with eight interceptions last season … O'Brien completed 31 of 44 passes for 348 yards and a touchdown against Miami in the season-opener … WR Kevin Dorsey had eight catches for 124 yards, while RB Davin Meggett had 92 rushing yards on 21 carries against the Hurricanes … LB Darin Drakeford had 14 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble against Miami … LB Kenny Tate — a 2010 All-ACC First Team pick — had 11 tackles and an interception.

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