Big East Preview

WVU, Cincinnati, Pitt and Louisville meet this week in the games that matter in the Big East conference race.

POWER OF THREE

Cincinnati has won its last three Big East games desptie trailing by nine, 10 and ten points in the second half of those games. The Bearcats are 3-0 in their trophy games this year, having knockced off Miami (Oh), Louisville and Pitt.


MINOR STREAK

With its win over West Virginia, Louisivlle posted its first three-game Big East winning streak since 2006. The Cardinals defeated Rutgers, Syracuse and WVU during the current string.


RIVER CITY GAME HOLDS THE KEY

For the last two years, the winner of the Pitt - Cincinnati game has won a share of the Big East title. That streak looks very likely to continue this season, as the Bearcats, who won this year's meeting, are the only undefeated team left in the conference.


PICKS

  • Syracuse gets a slim nod over USF due to the home venue and the Bulls' penchant for finding ways to lose games. Both are still battling for bowl eligibility, but pretty much out of the conference race.

  • Louisville found a way to outscore a productive offense last week, and Pitt is hapmered with its primary weapon sidelined for the year. The Cards get the nod in a suddenly important home game.

  • Rutgers became bowl eligible and has designs on a decent December destination after edging USF. It won't trip up on a visit to Yankee Stadium to play Army.

  • Cincinnati, overlooked since a loss to Tennessee, has emerged atop the league. The Bearcats figure to knock West Virginia's slim hopes of a league title totally asunder on Saturday.


    CINCINNATI Open Date
    Sat 11/12
    12:00 PM
    ABC
    Saturday's game will be the 20th meeting between West Virginia and Cincinnati in a series that dates to 1921 … West Virginia holds a 15-3-1 series lead after taking a 37-10 decision last year at Milan Puskar Stadium … West Virginia went 11-0-1 against Cincinnati from 1921-2002, but is 4-3 against the Bearcats since 2003 … West Virginia is 7-1 against the Bearcats in Cincinnati … Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones served as an assistant at West Virginia from 2005-06.

    West Virginia has dropped two of its last three games following a 38-35 setback to Louisville … The Mountaineers are 2-1 on the road with wins at Maryland and Rutgers and a loss at Syracuse … The Mountaineers have outscored their opponents by a 103-40 margin in the third quarter … The Mountaineers lead the Big East in total offense (487.8 ypg) and passing offense (361.0 ypg) … West Virginia is averaging 38.2 points per game, good for second in the Big East … QB Geno Smith is ranked seventh nationally in passing (347.2 yards per game) … Smith has completed 240 of 374 passes for 3,125 yards and 23 touchdowns with five interceptions … Smith moved into second place on West Virginia's career passing chart (6,197 yards) … WR Stedman Bailey is averaging 103.7 receiving yards per game to lead the Big East … Bailey has 51 catches for 933 yards and nine touchdowns … WR Tavon Austin is third nationally in all-purpose yards (190.6 ypg) … RB Dustin Garrison leads the team in rushing (581 yards, five touchdowns) … DB Darwin Cook has a team-high 64 tackles, while DE Bruce Irvin has a team-high 4.5 sacks.

    Cincinnati has won six straight following a 26-23 win at Pittsburgh … The Bearcats are 3-0 in the Big East despite trailing in the second half of all three conference games … Cincinnati has erased a 10-point second-half deficit in each of its last two games … Cincinnati leads the Big East and is 11th nationally in scoring offense (39.3 ppg) … The Bearcats are sixth nationally in rushing defense (87.6 ypg) … RB Isaiah Pead is third in the Big East in rushing (102.6 ypg) … Pead has rushed for 821 yards and eight touchdowns on 136 carries and is averaging a league-leading 6.0 yards per carry … QB Zach Collaros has completed 147 of 232 passes for 1,790 yards and 14 touchdowns with eight interceptions … Collaros also has eight rushing touchdowns … WR Kembrell Thompkins (35 receptions, 427 yards, 2 TDs) and WR Anthony Mc- Clung (33 receptions, 444 yards, 3 TDs) comprise one of the top receiving tandems in the Big East … LB JK Schaffer has a team-high 67 tackles with three interceptions and 5.5 tackles for loss … DE Derek Wolfe leads the Big East with seven sacks and is second in the conference with 12 tackles for loss.


    CONNECTICUT Open Date
    Next Game
    11/19
    vs. Louisville

    LOUISVILLE vs. Louisville
    Sat 11/12
    12::00 PM
    Big East
    Saturday's game will be the 15th meeting between Pittsburgh and Louisville in a series that dates to 1976 … Pittsburgh won the first four meetings, Louisville took the next seven, and Pittsburgh has won the last three, leaving the series tied at 7-7 … The schools have likewise split six Big East meetings … Louisville's last win in the series was a 24-17 win at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in 2007 … Last year's matchup in Pittsburgh saw the Panthers limit the Cardinals to 185 yards of offense in a 20-3 win.

    Pittsburgh needs two wins in its last three games to gain bowl eligibility … The Panthers have dropped three of their last four games after a 26-23 loss to Cincinnati … The Panthers are 4-0 when scoring at least 35 points and 0-5 when they have been held to fewer than 35 points … Pitt has been plagued by injuries, including an Oct. 26 game against Connecticut that claimed three starters with season-ending injuries … Among the casualties from that game was RB Ray Graham, who was the nation's second-leading rusher at the time … QB Tino Sunseri has thrown for 1,841 yards and eight touchdowns with eight interceptions this season … RB Zach Brown has taken over as the regular tailback following Graham's injury … WR Devin Street leads the team with 33 receptions for 471 yards and two touchdowns … LB Max Gruder is second in the Big East in tackles (82, 9.1 per game) … DT Aaron Donald is second in the Big East with seven sacks, despite his not starting a game until last week … DT Chas Alecxih has 4.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss.

    Louisville has bounced back from a 2-4 start with three straight wins, leaving the Cardinals a half-game behind first-place Cincinnati in the Big East standings … Louisville has won three straight Big East games for the first time since 2006 … Louisville had not scored more than 24 points in its first seven games, but has scored 27 and 38 points in its last two … The Cardinals lead the Big East and rank 15th nationally in scoring defense (18.3 ppg) and are 17th nationally in total defense (322.0 ypg) … QB Teddy Bridgewater has started the six five games as a true freshman … Bridgewater has thrown for 1,275 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions … WR Devante Parker has a team-high four touchdown catches … Louisville's defense has held opponents to just 2.9 yards per carry … The Cardinals rank ninth nationally in tackles for loss, averaging 7.8 TFL per game … LB Dexter Heyman and LB Preston Brown have team-high 61 tackles each … Heyman has a team-high 10 tackles for loss … DE Marcus Smith leads the team with five sacks.


    PITTSBURGH at Louisville
    Sat 11/12
    12::00 PM
    Big East
    Saturday's game will be the 15th meeting between Pittsburgh and Louisville in a series that dates to 1976 … Pittsburgh won the first four meetings, Louisville took the next seven, and Pittsburgh has won the last three, leaving the series tied at 7-7 … The schools have likewise split six Big East meetings … Louisville's last win in the series was a 24-17 win at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in 2007 … Last year's matchup in Pittsburgh saw the Panthers limit the Cardinals to 185 yards of offense in a 20-3 win.

    Pittsburgh needs two wins in its last three games to gain bowl eligibility … The Panthers have dropped three of their last four games after a 26-23 loss to Cincinnati … The Panthers are 4-0 when scoring at least 35 points and 0-5 when they have been held to fewer than 35 points … Pitt has been plagued by injuries, including an Oct. 26 game against Connecticut that claimed three starters with season-ending injuries … Among the casualties from that game was RB Ray Graham, who was the nation's second-leading rusher at the time … QB Tino Sunseri has thrown for 1,841 yards and eight touchdowns with eight interceptions this season … RB Zach Brown has taken over as the regular tailback following Graham's injury … WR Devin Street leads the team with 33 receptions for 471 yards and two touchdowns … LB Max Gruder is second in the Big East in tackles (82, 9.1 per game) … DT Aaron Donald is second in the Big East with seven sacks, despite his not starting a game until last week … DT Chas Alecxih has 4.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss.

    Louisville has bounced back from a 2-4 start with three straight wins, leaving the Cardinals a half-game behind first-place Cincinnati in the Big East standings … Louisville has won three straight Big East games for the first time since 2006 … Louisville had not scored more than 24 points in its first seven games, but has scored 27 and 38 points in its last two … The Cardinals lead the Big East and rank 15th nationally in scoring defense (18.3 ppg) and are 17th nationally in total defense (322.0 ypg) … QB Teddy Bridgewater has started the six five games as a true freshman … Bridgewater has thrown for 1,275 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions … WR Devante Parker has a team-high four touchdown catches … Louisville's defense has held opponents to just 2.9 yards per carry … The Cardinals rank ninth nationally in tackles for loss, averaging 7.8 TFL per game … LB Dexter Heyman and LB Preston Brown have team-high 61 tackles each … Heyman has a team-high 10 tackles for loss … DE Marcus Smith leads the team with five sacks.


    RUTGERS at Army
    Sat 11/12
    3:30 PM
    CBS Sports
    The Rutgers-Army series dates to 1891 and numbers 37 previous meetings … Rutgers is 19-18 against Army, has won seven straight in the series and has taken 11 of 13 since 1991 … Scarlet Knight coach Greg Schiano is 6-0 all-time against Army … Last year's game saw Rutgers take a 23-20 overtime win — a result that was overshadowed by the spinal cord injury suffered by Rutgers DT Eric LeGrand … LeGrand is scheduled to join the television announcers in the broadcast booth Saturday … Rutgers has played nine games at Yankee Stadium, going 1-7-1 against New York University between 1926 and 1948.

    Rutgers snapped a two-game slide with a 20-17 overtime win against USF … The Scarlet Knights trailed by 14 points midway through the fourth quarter, but rallied to become bowl-eligible for the sixth time in seven years … By comparison, Rutgers had been to one bowl game in the 135 previous seasons … The Scarlet Knights are second in the Big East in total defense (328.1 ypg) and scoring defense (18.3 ppg) … Rutgers had just 17 sacks last season and has 29 through seven games this year, good for ninth nationally (3.1 per game) … The Scarlet Knights are second in the nation with 28 takeaways (16 interceptions, 12 fumble recoveries) … LB Khaseem Greene leads the Big East in tackles (92 total, 10.2 per game) … DE Justin Francis has team highs of 6.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss … QB Chas Dodd is expected to return to the starting lineup against Army after QB Gary Nova had started the last five games … WR Mohamed Sanu needs 11 receptions to tie Larry Fitzgerald's Big East single-season record of 92 … S Duron Harmon has a team-high five interceptions … Rutgers is seventh nationally in average time of possession (33:44).

    Army takes a 3-6 record into Saturday's game following a 24-14 loss at Air Force … The Black Knights held an early 14-0 lead and appeared headed for a threetouchdown advantage, but a fumble on the 1-yard line proved costly as Air Force scored the last 24 points … Army is 3-1 in home games this year, though Saturday's game will be the Black Knights' first at Yankee Stadium this season … Army enters Saturday's game as the national leader in rushing offense … The Black Knights have averaged 365.8 rushing yards per game and have scored 30 rushing touchdowns … By comparison, Army is averaging 49.6 passing yards per game with four touchdown passes … QB Trent Steelman had started 32 consecutive games, but has missed the last two with an ankle injury … Steelman has rushed for 11 touchdowns and thrown a pair of TD passes … RB Raymond Maples leads the team with 891 rushing yards on 121 carries.


    SYRACUSE vs. USF
    Fri 11/11
    8:00 PM

    ESPN2

    Friday's game will be the seventh meeting between USF and Syracuse in a series that began in 2005 upon USF's entrance to the Big East … The Bulls won the first five meetings before Syracuse scored a 13-9 win last year at Raymond James Stadium … The Bulls are 3-0 all-time at the Carrier Dome … Last year's game saw the Orange hold the Bulls without an offensive touchdown, allowing a fourth-quarter TD pass from QB Ryan Nassib to stand up as the gamewinner.

    USF looks to snap a losing streak that has reached four games after a 20-17 overtime loss at Rutgers … The streak has leveled the Bulls' record at 4-4 after USF had opened with four straight wins … USF is 1-3 on the road this season and plays the last game of a stretch in which it will have played four of five away from home … USF leads the nation in tackles for loss, averaging 9.0 TFL per game … The Bulls are second nationally in sacks at 3.5 per game … USF has scored first in all eight games this season and has outscored its opponents by an 82-27 margin in the first quarter … The current four-game losing streak is the longest in program history … QB B.J. Daniels ranks second in the Big East in passing, averaging 253.4 yards per game … RB Darrell Scott is the leading rusher with 611 yards and five touchdowns on 108 carries … Scott is fifth in the Big East in rushing (76.4 ypg) … The Bulls lost leading WR Sterling Griffin to a season-ending knee injury last week, leaving TE Victor Marc (21 rec., 235 yards, 2 TDs) as the top available receiving threat … LB DeDe Lattimore leads the defense with 61 tackles, 4.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss … DE Ryne Giddins has team highs with 10 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles.

    Syracuse looks to snap a two-game slide with a return to the Carrier Dome, where the Orange are 4-1 this season … The Orange had won four straight Big East road games, but have dropped their last two … The Orange have played three overtime games this season — the most of any Bowl Subdivision team — and are 2-1 in those contests … QB Ryan Nassib is ranked fourth in the Big East in passing (217.8 ypg) … Nassib has completed 194 of 299 passes for 1,960 yards and 18 touchdowns with six interceptions … WR Alec Lemon has team highs of 47 receptions and 531 receiving yards … TE Nick Provo is a receiving threat as well with 39 catches for 410 yards and a team-high six touchdowns … Provo has set Syracuse's single-season record for receptions by a tight end … RB Antwon Bailey is fourth in the Big East in rushing (88.7 ypg) … S Phillip Thomas leads the Big East with six interceptions and is seventh in the conference in tackles (7.6 per game) … LB Dyshawn Davis leads the team with 10 tackles for loss … DE Chandler Jones has a team-high 4.5 sacks.


    USF at Syracuse
    Fri 11/11
    8:00 PM

    ESPN2

    Friday's game will be the seventh meeting between USF and Syracuse in a series that began in 2005 upon USF's entrance to the Big East … The Bulls won the first five meetings before Syracuse scored a 13-9 win last year at Raymond James Stadium … The Bulls are 3-0 all-time at the Carrier Dome … Last year's game saw the Orange hold the Bulls without an offensive touchdown, allowing a fourth-quarter TD pass from QB Ryan Nassib to stand up as the gamewinner.

    USF looks to snap a losing streak that has reached four games after a 20-17 overtime loss at Rutgers … The streak has leveled the Bulls' record at 4-4 after USF had opened with four straight wins … USF is 1-3 on the road this season and plays the last game of a stretch in which it will have played four of five away from home … USF leads the nation in tackles for loss, averaging 9.0 TFL per game … The Bulls are second nationally in sacks at 3.5 per game … USF has scored first in all eight games this season and has outscored its opponents by an 82-27 margin in the first quarter … The current four-game losing streak is the longest in program history … QB B.J. Daniels ranks second in the Big East in passing, averaging 253.4 yards per game … RB Darrell Scott is the leading rusher with 611 yards and five touchdowns on 108 carries … Scott is fifth in the Big East in rushing (76.4 ypg) … The Bulls lost leading WR Sterling Griffin to a season-ending knee injury last week, leaving TE Victor Marc (21 rec., 235 yards, 2 TDs) as the top available receiving threat … LB DeDe Lattimore leads the defense with 61 tackles, 4.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss … DE Ryne Giddins has team highs with 10 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles.

    Syracuse looks to snap a two-game slide with a return to the Carrier Dome, where the Orange are 4-1 this season … The Orange had won four straight Big East road games, but have dropped their last two … The Orange have played three overtime games this season — the most of any Bowl Subdivision team — and are 2-1 in those contests … QB Ryan Nassib is ranked fourth in the Big East in passing (217.8 ypg) … Nassib has completed 194 of 299 passes for 1,960 yards and 18 touchdowns with six interceptions … WR Alec Lemon has team highs of 47 receptions and 531 receiving yards … TE Nick Provo is a receiving threat as well with 39 catches for 410 yards and a team-high six touchdowns … Provo has set Syracuse's single-season record for receptions by a tight end … RB Antwon Bailey is fourth in the Big East in rushing (88.7 ypg) … S Phillip Thomas leads the Big East with six interceptions and is seventh in the conference in tackles (7.6 per game) … LB Dyshawn Davis leads the team with 10 tackles for loss … DE Chandler Jones has a team-high 4.5 sacks.


    WEST VIRGINIA at Cincinnati
    Sat 11/12
    12:00 PM
    ABC
    Saturday's game will be the 20th meeting between West Virginia and Cincinnati in a series that dates to 1921 … West Virginia holds a 15-3-1 series lead after taking a 37-10 decision last year at Milan Puskar Stadium … West Virginia went 11-0-1 against Cincinnati from 1921-2002, but is 4-3 against the Bearcats since 2003 … West Virginia is 7-1 against the Bearcats in Cincinnati … Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones served as an assistant at West Virginia from 2005-06.

    West Virginia has dropped two of its last three games following a 38-35 setback to Louisville … The Mountaineers are 2-1 on the road with wins at Maryland and Rutgers and a loss at Syracuse … The Mountaineers have outscored their opponents by a 103-40 margin in the third quarter … The Mountaineers lead the Big East in total offense (487.8 ypg) and passing offense (361.0 ypg) … West Virginia is averaging 38.2 points per game, good for second in the Big East … QB Geno Smith is ranked seventh nationally in passing (347.2 yards per game) … Smith has completed 240 of 374 passes for 3,125 yards and 23 touchdowns with five interceptions … Smith moved into second place on West Virginia's career passing chart (6,197 yards) … WR Stedman Bailey is averaging 103.7 receiving yards per game to lead the Big East … Bailey has 51 catches for 933 yards and nine touchdowns … WR Tavon Austin is third nationally in all-purpose yards (190.6 ypg) … RB Dustin Garrison leads the team in rushing (581 yards, five touchdowns) … DB Darwin Cook has a team-high 64 tackles, while DE Bruce Irvin has a team-high 4.5 sacks.

    Cincinnati has won six straight following a 26-23 win at Pittsburgh … The Bearcats are 3-0 in the Big East despite trailing in the second half of all three conference games … Cincinnati has erased a 10-point second-half deficit in each of its last two games … Cincinnati leads the Big East and is 11th nationally in scoring offense (39.3 ppg) … The Bearcats are sixth nationally in rushing defense (87.6 ypg) … RB Isaiah Pead is third in the Big East in rushing (102.6 ypg) … Pead has rushed for 821 yards and eight touchdowns on 136 carries and is averaging a league-leading 6.0 yards per carry … QB Zach Collaros has completed 147 of 232 passes for 1,790 yards and 14 touchdowns with eight interceptions … Collaros also has eight rushing touchdowns … WR Kembrell Thompkins (35 receptions, 427 yards, 2 TDs) and WR Anthony Mc- Clung (33 receptions, 444 yards, 3 TDs) comprise one of the top receiving tandems in the Big East … LB JK Schaffer has a team-high 67 tackles with three interceptions and 5.5 tackles for loss … DE Derek Wolfe leads the Big East with seven sacks and is second in the conference with 12 tackles for loss.


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