Big East Preview

With just two more out of conference games remaining on the schedule, the focus turns to league games in the Big East this week.

HOW'D THEY DO THAT?

UConn managed a 16-10 win over USF without scoring an offensive touchdown or registering a sack. The Huskies allowed seven sacks of their own and managed just 253 yards of total offense in the win. The Huskies did win the turnover battle, 4-2.


SUPER NOVA

Rutgers freshman quarterback Gary Nova did something not many observers thought was possible this year. He knocked incumbent starter Chas Dodd out ot the Scarlet Knight starting lineup, and has held onto the spot since becoming the first teamer against Pittsburgh. According to one report, Nova has not lost a game as a starter since the eighth grade.


ROAD WARRIORS

All three road teams in this week's league action stand at 5-1, and can lock up a bowl bid with a win. Rutgers, Cincinnati and West Virginia can establish those milestones with wins at Louisville, Syracuse and Rutgers, respectively.


PICKS

OK, so this league is a mess. Maybe this is the week that some semblance of order comes to the fore? And maybe conference commissioners acros the land call for a halt to the restructuring that is going to prove about as effective as perestroika.

  • To stay on top of the current league standings and lock up a bowl bid, Rutgers will have to win on the road at Louisville. Even though the Scarlet Knights have piled up four of their five wins at home to this point, the feeling is that they have enough offense to outscore the Cardinals, whose offense is a bigger disaster than the economy.

  • Syracuse could give WVU a stiffer test than many expect, given the players returning to the Orange defense and an offense capable of playing keepaway. West Virginia still has to be the choice, however, as no opponent has managed to slow the Holgorsen Express.

  • Cincinnati, like Rutgers, hopes to stake its claim at the top of the league when it travels to USF. The Bulls are desperate, facing an 0-3 mark in the league if they can't knock off the Bearcats. Yep, it's an upset, but what would the Big East be without at least one per week? USF defends its turf.


    CINCINNATI at USF
    Sat 10/22
    12:00 PM
    Big East
    Saturday's game will be the ninth meeting between Cincinnati and USF … The Bearcats hold a 5-3 series lead and are 4-2 against the Bulls in Big East games … Cincinnati had won four straight in the series before USF's 38-30 win at Nippert Stadium last year … USF QB B.J. Daniels completed 13 of 16 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns in last year's game … Cincinnati has won the last two meetings at Raymond James Stadium.

    Cincinnati has surpassed last season's win total with a 5-1 start following a 25-16 win against Louisville … The Bearcats went 4-8 last year … Cincinnati is 1-1 on the road in 2011 with a win against Miami (Ohio) and a loss to Tennessee … The Bearcats have held five of their first six opponents to 16 points or fewer … Only Tennessee, which scored 45 points, has scored more than 16 points against the Bearcats … Cincinnati leads the Big East and is 11th nationally in scoring offense (41.7 ppg) … The Bearcats are fourth nationally in rushing defense (70.5 ypg) and have held their last three opponents to a combined 41 rushing yards … RB Isaiah Pead is second in the Big East in rushing (104.0 ypg) … Pead has rushed for 624 yards and eight touchdowns on 92 carries and is averaging a league-leading 6.8 yards per carry … QB Zach Collaros has completed 102 of 195 passes for 1,187 yards and 11 touchdowns with four interceptions … WR Anthony McClung has team highs of 25 receptions, 324 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions … DT Derek Wolfe is the top man on defense with 30 tackles, five sacks, 10 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.

    USF fell to 0-2 in Big East play following a 16-10 setback at Connecticut … The Bulls played their first two conference games on the road, falling to Pittsburgh Sept. 29 (44-17) … USF is 3-0 at home this season … The Bulls opened the season with four straight wins in which they averaged 49.8 points per game … USF is second in the Big East in total offense (476.2 yards per game) and leads the league in rushing offense (215.2 ypg) … The Bulls have scored 146 of their 209 points in the first half this season … QB B.J. Daniels is second in the Big East in passing (243.0 yards per game) and is eighth in the conference in rushing (53.7 ypg) … Daniels has thrown for 1,458 yards and eight touchdowns with three interceptions … RB Darrell Scott is the leading rusher with 482 yards and five TDs on the year … WR Sterling Griffin is fifth in the Big East in receptions (5.3 per game) and receiving yards (70.0 ypg) … LB Michael Lanaris has a team-high 47 tackles.


    CONNECTICUT Open Date
    Next Game
    Wed 10/26
    at Pitt

    LOUISVILLE vs. Rutgers
    Fri 10/21
    8:00 PM
    ESPN2
    Friday's game will be the 11th meeting between Rutgers and Louisville in a series that dates to 1976 … Rutgers holds a 7-3 series lead … The schools have split six BIG EAST meetings … Last year's matchup saw Louisville RB Bilal Powell rush for 123 yards and a touchdown and catch two touchdown passes in a 40-13 win in Piscataway, N.J. … Rutgers was a 34-14 winner in 2009 in the last meeting in Louisville.

    Rutgers enters Friday's game with a four-game winning streak as the Scarlet Knights look to win five straight for the first time since 2008, when they closed the season with seven straight wins … 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 … 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 third in the conference in total defense (305.8 ypg) and first in scoring defense (16.0 ppg) and pass efficiency defense (104.6) … Rutgers had just 17 sacks last season and has 24 through six games this year … The Scarlet Knights lead the nation with 24 takeaways (14 interceptions, 10 fumble recoveries) … LB Khaseem Greene leads the Big East in tackles (9.8 per game) … DE Justin Francis has a team-high 4.5 sacks, while LB Steve Beauharnais has eight tackles for loss … Freshman QB Gary Nova is expected to make his third career start … Nova has completed 55 of 99 passes for 683 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions … WR Mohamed Sanu leads the Big East in receptions (9.2 per game).

    Louisville looks to rebound from a three-game slide following a 25-16 setback at Cincinnati … The Cardinals are second in the Big East in total defense, allowing an average of 303.5 yards per game … Louisville has not scored more than 24 points in a game, while the Cardinals have not allowed more than 25 points this year … QB Teddy Bridgewater has started the last three games … Bridgewater has thrown for 709 yards , four touchdowns and five 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 100.7 rushing yards per game and 2.7 yards per carry … The Cardinals rank sixth nationally in tackles for loss, averaging 8.3 TFL per game … LB Dexter Heyman has a team-high 46 tackles with seven tackles for loss, two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble … DE Marcus Smith has a team-high four sacks … S Mike Evans leads the team with two interceptions, while S Hakeem Smith has a team-high six pass breakups.


    PITTSBURGH Open Date
    Next Game
    Wed 10/26
    vs. UConn

    RUTGERS at Louisville
    Fri 10/21
    8:00 PM
    ESPN2
    Friday's game will be the 11th meeting between Rutgers and Louisville in a series that dates to 1976 … Rutgers holds a 7-3 series lead … The schools have split six BIG EAST meetings … Last year's matchup saw Louisville RB Bilal Powell rush for 123 yards and a touchdown and catch two touchdown passes in a 40-13 win in Piscataway, N.J. … Rutgers was a 34-14 winner in 2009 in the last meeting in Louisville.

    Rutgers enters Friday's game with a four-game winning streak as the Scarlet Knights look to win five straight for the first time since 2008, when they closed the season with seven straight wins … 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 … 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 third in the conference in total defense (305.8 ypg) and first in scoring defense (16.0 ppg) and pass efficiency defense (104.6) … Rutgers had just 17 sacks last season and has 24 through six games this year … The Scarlet Knights lead the nation with 24 takeaways (14 interceptions, 10 fumble recoveries) … LB Khaseem Greene leads the Big East in tackles (9.8 per game) … DE Justin Francis has a team-high 4.5 sacks, while LB Steve Beauharnais has eight tackles for loss … Freshman QB Gary Nova is expected to make his third career start … Nova has completed 55 of 99 passes for 683 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions … WR Mohamed Sanu leads the Big East in receptions (9.2 per game).

    Louisville looks to rebound from a three-game slide following a 25-16 setback at Cincinnati … The Cardinals are second in the Big East in total defense, allowing an average of 303.5 yards per game … Louisville has not scored more than 24 points in a game, while the Cardinals have not allowed more than 25 points this year … QB Teddy Bridgewater has started the last three games … Bridgewater has thrown for 709 yards , four touchdowns and five 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 100.7 rushing yards per game and 2.7 yards per carry … The Cardinals rank sixth nationally in tackles for loss, averaging 8.3 TFL per game … LB Dexter Heyman has a team-high 46 tackles with seven tackles for loss, two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble … DE Marcus Smith has a team-high four sacks … S Mike Evans leads the team with two interceptions, while S Hakeem Smith has a team-high six pass breakups.


    SYRACUSE vs. West Virginia
    Fri 10/21
    8:00 PM
    ESPN
    Syracuse and West Virginia compete annually for the Schwartzwalder Trophy, named for Ben Schwartzwalder, who played at West Virginia from 1930-32 and enjoyed a hall-of-fame coaching career at Syracuse from 1949-73 … The trophy was introduced in 1993 … Syracuse holds a 31-27 lead in the series, which dates to 1945 … The schools have met every year since 1955 … The Orange snapped West Virginia's eight-game winning streak in the series with a 19-14 victory last year in Morgantown, W.Va. … The Mountaineers have won four straight at the Carrier Dome.

    West Virginia enters Friday's game in search of its third straight win … The Mountaineers enjoyed a bye last week … The lone loss on West Virginia's ledger is a 47-21 setback to an LSU team that is ranked No. 1 in the first Bowl Championship Series standings … Since that game, West Virginia has defeated two opponents by a combined score of 98-26 … The Mountaineers lead the Big East in total offense (503.5 ypg), passing offense (308.1 ypg) and pass defense (181.3 ypg) … West Virginia is averaging 40.8 points per game, good for second in the Big East and 13th nationally … QB Geno Smith is ranked fifth nationally in passing (359.8 yards per game) … Smith has completed 165 of 258 passes (64.0 percent) for 2,159 yards and 16 touchdowns with just three interceptions … WR Stedman Bailey is averaging 105.7 receiving yards per game to lead the Big East … Bailey has 34 catches for 634 yards and five touchdowns … WR Tavon Austin is averaging 94.0 receiving yards per game, trailing only Bailey among Big East players, and is third nationally in all-purpose yards (193.5 ypg).

    Syracuse returns from a bye week with a 4-2 record … The Orange were last in action Oct. 8, when they scored a 37-34 win at Tulane … Syracuse's last three games have been decided by a combined nine points … The Orange have played three overtime games this season and are 2-1 in those contests … Syracuse and Louisiana Tech (two overtime games) are the only schools in the FBS that have played more than one overtime game this season … Syracuse is two games above .500 despite having been outscored 164-160 … QB Ryan Nassib is ranked third in the Big East in passing (215.7 ypg) … Nassib has completed 124 of 192 passes for 1,294 yards and 11 touchdowns with four interceptions … WR Alec Lemon has team highs of 31 receptions, 322 receiving yards and three touchdown catches … RB Antwon Bailey has registered three consecutive 100-yard games and is fourth in the Big East in rushing (92.2 ypg) … S Phillip Thomas leads the team with 46 tackles and three interceptions … LB Dyshawn Davis has a team-high four sacks.


    USF vs. Cincinnati
    Sat 10/22
    12:00 PM
    Big East
    Saturday's game will be the ninth meeting between Cincinnati and USF … The Bearcats hold a 5-3 series lead and are 4-2 against the Bulls in Big East games … Cincinnati had won four straight in the series before USF's 38-30 win at Nippert Stadium last year … USF QB B.J. Daniels completed 13 of 16 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns in last year's game … Cincinnati has won the last two meetings at Raymond James Stadium.

    Cincinnati has surpassed last season's win total with a 5-1 start following a 25-16 win against Louisville … The Bearcats went 4-8 last year … Cincinnati is 1-1 on the road in 2011 with a win against Miami (Ohio) and a loss to Tennessee … The Bearcats have held five of their first six opponents to 16 points or fewer … Only Tennessee, which scored 45 points, has scored more than 16 points against the Bearcats … Cincinnati leads the Big East and is 11th nationally in scoring offense (41.7 ppg) … The Bearcats are fourth nationally in rushing defense (70.5 ypg) and have held their last three opponents to a combined 41 rushing yards … RB Isaiah Pead is second in the Big East in rushing (104.0 ypg) … Pead has rushed for 624 yards and eight touchdowns on 92 carries and is averaging a league-leading 6.8 yards per carry … QB Zach Collaros has completed 102 of 195 passes for 1,187 yards and 11 touchdowns with four interceptions … WR Anthony McClung has team highs of 25 receptions, 324 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions … DT Derek Wolfe is the top man on defense with 30 tackles, five sacks, 10 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.

    USF fell to 0-2 in Big East play following a 16-10 setback at Connecticut … The Bulls played their first two conference games on the road, falling to Pittsburgh Sept. 29 (44-17) … USF is 3-0 at home this season … The Bulls opened the season with four straight wins in which they averaged 49.8 points per game … USF is second in the Big East in total offense (476.2 yards per game) and leads the league in rushing offense (215.2 ypg) … The Bulls have scored 146 of their 209 points in the first half this season … QB B.J. Daniels is second in the Big East in passing (243.0 yards per game) and is eighth in the conference in rushing (53.7 ypg) … Daniels has thrown for 1,458 yards and eight touchdowns with three interceptions … RB Darrell Scott is the leading rusher with 482 yards and five TDs on the year … WR Sterling Griffin is fifth in the Big East in receptions (5.3 per game) and receiving yards (70.0 ypg) … LB Michael Lanaris has a team-high 47 tackles.


    WEST VIRGINIA at Syracuse
    Fri 10/21
    8:00 PM
    ESPN
    Syracuse and West Virginia compete annually for the Schwartzwalder Trophy, named for Ben Schwartzwalder, who played at West Virginia from 1930-32 and enjoyed a hall-of-fame coaching career at Syracuse from 1949-73 … The trophy was introduced in 1993 … Syracuse holds a 31-27 lead in the series, which dates to 1945 … The schools have met every year since 1955 … The Orange snapped West Virginia's eight-game winning streak in the series with a 19-14 victory last year in Morgantown, W.Va. … The Mountaineers have won four straight at the Carrier Dome.

    West Virginia enters Friday's game in search of its third straight win … The Mountaineers enjoyed a bye last week … The lone loss on West Virginia's ledger is a 47-21 setback to an LSU team that is ranked No. 1 in the first Bowl Championship Series standings … Since that game, West Virginia has defeated two opponents by a combined score of 98-26 … The Mountaineers lead the Big East in total offense (503.5 ypg), passing offense (308.1 ypg) and pass defense (181.3 ypg) … West Virginia is averaging 40.8 points per game, good for second in the Big East and 13th nationally … QB Geno Smith is ranked fifth nationally in passing (359.8 yards per game) … Smith has completed 165 of 258 passes (64.0 percent) for 2,159 yards and 16 touchdowns with just three interceptions … WR Stedman Bailey is averaging 105.7 receiving yards per game to lead the Big East … Bailey has 34 catches for 634 yards and five touchdowns … WR Tavon Austin is averaging 94.0 receiving yards per game, trailing only Bailey among Big East players, and is third nationally in all-purpose yards (193.5 ypg).

    Syracuse returns from a bye week with a 4-2 record … The Orange were last in action Oct. 8, when they scored a 37-34 win at Tulane … Syracuse's last three games have been decided by a combined nine points … The Orange have played three overtime games this season and are 2-1 in those contests … Syracuse and Louisiana Tech (two overtime games) are the only schools in the FBS that have played more than one overtime game this season … Syracuse is two games above .500 despite having been outscored 164-160 … QB Ryan Nassib is ranked third in the Big East in passing (215.7 ypg) … Nassib has completed 124 of 192 passes for 1,294 yards and 11 touchdowns with four interceptions … WR Alec Lemon has team highs of 31 receptions, 322 receiving yards and three touchdown catches … RB Antwon Bailey has registered three consecutive 100-yard games and is fourth in the Big East in rushing (92.2 ypg) … S Phillip Thomas leads the team with 46 tackles and three interceptions … LB Dyshawn Davis has a team-high four sacks.


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