Big East Preview

The Keg of Nails battle is the best of a ho-hum week in the Big East

FAILURE TO CONVERT

How can Rutgers lead the nation in turnover margin and still have aloss, as well as two narrow wins? Failure to score in the red zone. In addition to topping the country in takeaways, the Scarlet Knights also lead the league in field goals. Rutgers is 12-16 on three-pointers this year. Had they turned just one of those into a touchdown, they'd be undefeated at this point.


EARLY START

In addition to possessing the top total offense in the league, USF has ridden it's productivity to good early starts. The Bulls have scored first in all five games this season.

The Bulls' yardage lead is a tenuous one, however. USF is averaging 503.6 yards per game -- one-tenth of a marker more than West Virginia's 503.5 average.


BEHIND THE LINE

Four Big East teams are among the top five nationally in tackles for loss. Louisville is second at 8.8 TFL per game. Cincinnati is third (8.7 per game), while USF is fourth (8.6) and Rutgers is fifth (8.4).


PICKS

  • Louisville's total lack of offense makes it difficult to believe that the Cardinals can match points or stay close with visiting Cincinnati. Look for the Bearcats to float the Keg of Nails back upriver to the Queen City.

  • Connecticut's solid defense has made it very succesful against USF in recent seasons. Just as with Louisville, though, it's tough to see the Huskies scoring enough to knock off the Bulls at home.

  • Rutgers' big win over Pitt vaulted the Knights to the top of the leage standings. They'lls tay there, but only becasue Navy isn't a conference game (yet). The Midshipmen take care of the ball, while RU feasts on turnovers. Middie discipline, along with its confusing running game, will triumph.

  • Utah's injuries, plus the expectation that Pitt will smarten up and get the ball to Ray Graham more, leads to a narrow pick for the Panthers.


    CINCINNATI vs. Louisville
    Sat 10/15
    12:00 PM
    Big East
    Saturday's game will be the 51st matchup in a rivalry that dates to 1929 … Cincinnati holds a 28-21-1 series lead, including a 15-12 lead in games played in Cincinnati … Last year's meeting saw Bearcat QB Zach Collaros throw for 275 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-27 win in Louisville … Saturday's game will be the first of two Cincinnati games at Paul Brown Stadium — The Bearcats host West Virginia Nov. 12.

    Cincinnati returns from a bye week after stringing together three straight wins … Cincinnati is 3-0 at home and 1-1 on the road … The Bearcats rank third nationally with 18 takeaways this season … By comparison, Cincinnati had 13 takeaways in the 2010 season … Cincinnati leads the Big East in scoring offense (45.0 ppg), rushing defense (70.6 ypg), net punting (41.6 ypp) and tackles for loss (8.8 pg) … RB Isaiah Pead enters Saturday's game ranked third in the Big East in rushing (94.6 ypg) … Pead is averaging 6.6 yards per carry and has 473 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 72 carries … QB Zach Collaros is second in the Big East in pass efficiency (148.8) after completing 84 of 133 passes for 1,035 yards and 10 TDs with three interceptions … WR Anthony McClung leads the team with 23 receptions for 281 yards and three touchdowns … The defense is paced by LB JK Schaffer, who has team highs of 35 tackles and three interceptions … DT Derek Wolfe has a BIG EAST-leading four sacks with 7.0 tackles for loss … P Pat O'Donnell has averaged 45.3 yards per punt.

    Louisville looks to rebound from a two-game slide following a 14-7 setback at North Carolina … Louisville is 5-3 on the road under head coach Charlie Strong and is 1-1 in road games this season … The Cardinals lead the Big East in total defense, allowing an average of 306.8 yards per game … Neither Louisville nor its opponents have scored more than 24 points in a game this season … QB Teddy Bridgewater has started the last two games in place of Will Stein, who is considered day-to-day with a shoulder injury … Bridgewater has thrown for 514 yards , four touchdowns and four interceptions … The Cardinals have used three running backs regularly, but have just two rushing touchdowns this season … WR Devante Parker has a team-high three touchdown catches … Louisville's defense has held opponents to just 85.2 rushing yards per game and 2.3 yards per carry … The Cardinals rank second nationally in tackles for loss, averaging 8.8 TFL per game … LB Dexter Heyman has a team-high 39 tackles with seven tackles for loss, two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble … DE Greg Scruggs and DE Marcus Smith have a team-high three sacks each.


    CONNECTICUT at USF
    Sat 10/15
    3:30 PM
    Big East
    Saturday's game will be the eighth meeting between Connecticut and USF … The series is tied 4-4 … Connecticut is 4-2 against the Bulls in Big East play … The last two meetings — both Connecticut wins — were decided in the last minute by K Dave Teggart … Teggart hit a 42-yard field goal as time expired to give the Huskies a 29-27 win at Rentschler Field in 2009 and he hit a 52-yard field goal with 17 seconds left in a 19-16 win last year in Tampa … USF coach Skip Holtz was Connecticut's coach from 1994-98 … The Huskies have won all three previous meetings at Rentschler Field.

    USF returns from a bye week that allowed the Bulls to regroup from their first loss of the season — a 44-17 setback at Pittsburgh Sept. 29 … The Bulls opened the season with four straight wins in which they averaged 49.8 points per game … USF leads the Big East in total offense (503.6 yards per game) and rushing offense (223.2 ypg) … The Bulls have scored 143 of their 199 points in the first half this season … QB B.J. Daniels is second in the Big East in passing (258.8 yards per game) and is eighth in the conference in rushing (51.6 ypg) … Daniels has thrown for 1,294 yards and eight touchdowns with just one interception … RB Darrell Scott is the leading rusher with 424 yards and five TDs on the year … WR Sterling Griffin is fifth in the Big East in receptions (5.4 per game) and receiving yards (71.4 ypg) … The Bulls have 15 sacks this season and have averaged 3.0 sacks per game … LB Michael Lanaris has a teamhigh 40 tackles … DE Julius Forte and DE Claude Davis have a team-high three sacks each … DT Elkino Watson leads the team with 6.5 tackles for loss .

    Connecticut fell to 2-4 after a 43-16 setback at West Virginia last week … The Huskies are 1-2 at home this season … Connecticut has forced at least one turnover in all six games this season and has at least two takeaways in four of the six games …The Huskies were held without an offensive touchdown in the loss to West Virginia, marking the second time this season that the offense did not reach the end zone (at Vanderbilt) … The Huskies have played three quarterbacks this year, though QB Johnny McEntee has settled in as the primary option … McEntee has completed 86 of 166 passes for 1,106 yards and six touchdowns with four interceptions … RB Lyle McCombs is ranked second in the Big East in rushing at 95.8 yards per game … WR Kashif Moore has 19 catches for 256 yards and three touchdowns … LB Jory Johnson is third in the Big East in tackles (8.3 per game) … DT Kendall Reyes is the Big East leader in tackles for loss (10.0, 1.67 per game) … The Huskies have registered 18 sacks this season, but have allowed 17.


    LOUISVILLE vs. Cincinnati
    Sat 10/15
    12:00 PM
    Big East
    Saturday's game will be the 51st matchup in a rivalry that dates to 1929 … Cincinnati holds a 28-21-1 series lead, including a 15-12 lead in games played in Cincinnati … Last year's meeting saw Bearcat QB Zach Collaros throw for 275 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-27 win in Louisville … Saturday's game will be the first of two Cincinnati games at Paul Brown Stadium — The Bearcats host West Virginia Nov. 12.

    Cincinnati returns from a bye week after stringing together three straight wins … Cincinnati is 3-0 at home and 1-1 on the road … The Bearcats rank third nationally with 18 takeaways this season … By comparison, Cincinnati had 13 takeaways in the 2010 season … Cincinnati leads the Big East in scoring offense (45.0 ppg), rushing defense (70.6 ypg), net punting (41.6 ypp) and tackles for loss (8.8 pg) … RB Isaiah Pead enters Saturday's game ranked third in the Big East in rushing (94.6 ypg) … Pead is averaging 6.6 yards per carry and has 473 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 72 carries … QB Zach Collaros is second in the Big East in pass efficiency (148.8) after completing 84 of 133 passes for 1,035 yards and 10 TDs with three interceptions … WR Anthony McClung leads the team with 23 receptions for 281 yards and three touchdowns … The defense is paced by LB JK Schaffer, who has team highs of 35 tackles and three interceptions … DT Derek Wolfe has a BIG EAST-leading four sacks with 7.0 tackles for loss … P Pat O'Donnell has averaged 45.3 yards per punt.

    Louisville looks to rebound from a two-game slide following a 14-7 setback at North Carolina … Louisville is 5-3 on the road under head coach Charlie Strong and is 1-1 in road games this season … The Cardinals lead the Big East in total defense, allowing an average of 306.8 yards per game … Neither Louisville nor its opponents have scored more than 24 points in a game this season … QB Teddy Bridgewater has started the last two games in place of Will Stein, who is considered day-to-day with a shoulder injury … Bridgewater has thrown for 514 yards , four touchdowns and four interceptions … The Cardinals have used three running backs regularly, but have just two rushing touchdowns this season … WR Devante Parker has a team-high three touchdown catches … Louisville's defense has held opponents to just 85.2 rushing yards per game and 2.3 yards per carry … The Cardinals rank second nationally in tackles for loss, averaging 8.8 TFL per game … LB Dexter Heyman has a team-high 39 tackles with seven tackles for loss, two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble … DE Greg Scruggs and DE Marcus Smith have a team-high three sacks each.


    PITTSBURGH vs. Utah
    Sat 10/15
    12:000 PM
    ESPNU
    Saturday's game will be the just the third meeting between Pittsburgh and Utah in a series that began in the 2004 season … Utah took the first meeting, 35-7, in the 2004-05 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, while the Utes were 27-24 winners in overtime last season in Salt Lake City … Last year's matchup saw the Panthers rally from a 24-13 fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime before Utah K Joe Phillips kicked the game-winning field goal … Utah is the first Pac-12 team to visit Pittsburgh since the Panthers defeated Washington State 17-13 at Pitt Stadium Sept. 2, 1995.

    Pittsburgh dropped a 34-10 decision at Rutgers last week, leaving the Panthers at 1-1 in Big East play and 3-3 overall … Pitt has lost three of its last four after a 2-0 start to the season … The Panthers are 3-0 when scoring at least 35 points and 0-3 when they have been held to fewer than 35 points this year … RB Ray Graham enters Saturday's game ranked second nationally in rushing with an average of 149.8 yards per game … Graham has rushed for 899 yards and nine touchdowns on 150 carries and has the most yards through six games of a season of any player in school history … By comparison, Pitt legend Tony Dorsett had 892 yards through six games in his Heisman Trophy season of 1973 … QB Tino Sunseri has completed 118 of 187 passes for 1,166 yards and five touchdowns with seven interceptions … Graham is also Pitt's leading receiver with 27 catches on the year … LB Max Gruder is second in the Big East in tackles (51, 8.5 per game) … LB Brandon Lindsey has a team-high four sacks … The Panthers have just three interceptions.

    Utah has dropped three of its last four following a 35-14 setback against Arizona State last week … The Utes are 1-1 on the road this season with a 23-14 loss at Southern California and a 54-10 win at Brigham Young … Utah is 8-0 all-time against current Big East members … The Utes are 0-3 in their first season as a member of the Pac-12 Conference, marking their first 0-3 conference start since 2002 in the Mountain West … Utah is 6-12 all-time in games played in the Eastern time zone … Only three Utah players hail from east of the Mississippi River … QB Jon Hays made his first career start last week against Arizona State, filling in for the injured Jordan Wynn … Hays has completed 28 of 47 passes for 355 yards and two touchdowns and four interceptions this season … RB John White ranks third in the Pac-12 in rushing at 100.0 yards per game … White has rushed for 500 yards on 92 carries with six touchdowns … WR DeVonte Christopher is the leading receiver with 23 catches for 351 yards and two touchdowns, but is questionable for Saturday's game with an ankle inury … LB Chaz Walker leads the Pac-12 in tackles (9.4 per game).


    RUTGERS vs. Navy
    Sat 10/15
    2:00 PM
    ESPN3.com
    Rutgers and Navy meet for the 24th time Saturday in a series that dates to 1891 … Each team has won 11 games and there has been one tie in the series … The schools have met 13 times since 1995 … Rutgers had won three straight from 2005-07 before Navy took the 2008 matchup 23-21 in the most recent meeting … The 2008 game featured five lead changes, including Navy's go-ahead field goal that stood as the gamewinner with two minutes left in the fourth quarter … Rutgers has won three straight at home against Navy.

    Rutgers is off to its best start since 2006, with only a two-point loss at North Carolina Sept. 10 keeping the Scarlet Knights from entering Saturday's game unbeaten … Rutgers is 2-0 in Big East play for just the second time, with the last 2-0 start coming in 2006 … The Scarlet Knights have already surpassed last year's total of one Big East win … The turnaround can be directly attributed to the improvement of Rutgers' defense … Rutgers ranked eighth in the Big East in total defense last year, allowing an average of 374.2 yards per game … This year, the Scarlet Knights are second in the conference in total defense (299.0 ypg) and first in scoring defense (15.2 ppg) and pass efficiency defense (104.0) … Rutgers had just 17 sacks last season and has 20 through five games this year … The Scarlet Knights lead the nation with 22 takeaways (12 interceptions, 10 fumble recoveries) … LB Khaseem Greene leads the Big East in tackles (9.0 per game) … DE Justin Francis has a team-high four sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss … S Duron Harmon leads the team with four interceptions … Freshman QB Gary Nova is expected to make his second career start … Nova has completed 32 of 68 passes for 412 yards and four touchdowns without an interception … WR Mohamed Sanu leads the Big East in receptions (9.0 per game).

    Navy started the season with back-to-back wins, but looks to rid itself of a threegame losing streak following a 63-35 setback to Southern Mississippi last week in Annapolis, Md. … The three schools that have defeated Navy (South Carolina, Air Force, Southern Miss) are a combined 13-4 … Navy has won 18 games against automatic-qualifying BCS opponents since 2003 — the most of any school in the nation … Navy and its trademark triple-option offense, enters Saturday's game as the national leader in rushing (366.0 yards per game) … The Midshipmen are 118th nationally in passing, averaging just 97.4 yards per game … QB Kriss Proctor has rushed for 524 yards and seven touchdowns and has thrown for 441 yards and six TDs … FB Alexander Teich has 408 rushing yards and four touchdowns … LB Matt Warrick leads the team with 41 tackles … LB Matt Brewer has four forced fumbles … Navy is the least-penalized team in the nation (2.8 penalties per game).


    SYRACUSE Open Date
    Next Game
    Fri 10/21
    vs. West Virginia

    USF vs. UConn
    Sat 10/15
    3:30 PM
    Big East
    Saturday's game will be the eighth meeting between Connecticut and USF … The series is tied 4-4 … Connecticut is 4-2 against the Bulls in Big East play … The last two meetings — both Connecticut wins — were decided in the last minute by K Dave Teggart … Teggart hit a 42-yard field goal as time expired to give the Huskies a 29-27 win at Rentschler Field in 2009 and he hit a 52-yard field goal with 17 seconds left in a 19-16 win last year in Tampa … USF coach Skip Holtz was Connecticut's coach from 1994-98 … The Huskies have won all three previous meetings at Rentschler Field.

    USF returns from a bye week that allowed the Bulls to regroup from their first loss of the season — a 44-17 setback at Pittsburgh Sept. 29 … The Bulls opened the season with four straight wins in which they averaged 49.8 points per game … USF leads the Big East in total offense (503.6 yards per game) and rushing offense (223.2 ypg) … The Bulls have scored 143 of their 199 points in the first half this season … QB B.J. Daniels is second in the Big East in passing (258.8 yards per game) and is eighth in the conference in rushing (51.6 ypg) … Daniels has thrown for 1,294 yards and eight touchdowns with just one interception … RB Darrell Scott is the leading rusher with 424 yards and five TDs on the year … WR Sterling Griffin is fifth in the Big East in receptions (5.4 per game) and receiving yards (71.4 ypg) … The Bulls have 15 sacks this season and have averaged 3.0 sacks per game … LB Michael Lanaris has a teamhigh 40 tackles … DE Julius Forte and DE Claude Davis have a team-high three sacks each … DT Elkino Watson leads the team with 6.5 tackles for loss .

    Connecticut fell to 2-4 after a 43-16 setback at West Virginia last week … The Huskies are 1-2 at home this season … Connecticut has forced at least one turnover in all six games this season and has at least two takeaways in four of the six games …The Huskies were held without an offensive touchdown in the loss to West Virginia, marking the second time this season that the offense did not reach the end zone (at Vanderbilt) … The Huskies have played three quarterbacks this year, though QB Johnny McEntee has settled in as the primary option … McEntee has completed 86 of 166 passes for 1,106 yards and six touchdowns with four interceptions … RB Lyle McCombs is ranked second in the Big East in rushing at 95.8 yards per game … WR Kashif Moore has 19 catches for 256 yards and three touchdowns … LB Jory Johnson is third in the Big East in tackles (8.3 per game) … DT Kendall Reyes is the Big East leader in tackles for loss (10.0, 1.67 per game) … The Huskies have registered 18 sacks this season, but have allowed 17.


    WEST VIRGINIA Open Date
    Next Game
    Fri 10/21
    at Syracuse

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