Big East Previews

We look at today's action in the Big East conference.

BOSTON COLLEGE
Boston College will spend the next few days trying to figure out where its formerly impressive run game disappeared to in Saturday's 20-17 overtime loss to Pittsburgh.

The Eagles essentially abandoned their ground attack in the second half and finished the game with a season-low 56 rushing yards. Redshirt freshman tailback L.V. Whitworth led the team with 39 yards on 18 carries and will start this Saturday when Boston College (4-2) takes on Notre Dame (5-2) in South Bend, Ind.

"We're young and we have a lot of young starters (on the offensive line)," Eagles coach Tom O'Brien said. "I think the big thing that has to happen with our football team is our good players have to play great. Right now, we're an average football team coming off the Pittsburgh game."

Senior quarterback Paul Peterson, however, turned in an above-average performance against the Panthers. He completed 32 of 53 passes for a career-high 367 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.

But for Boston College to regain its early-season form, the backfield must produce. Whitworth, Andre Callender and A.J. Brooks have all rushed for 100 yards or more in games this season.

Following their trip to Notre Dame, the Eagles will take a week off before hosting Rutgers on Nov. 6.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Boston College still owns the Big East's second-ranked rushing offense (260.3 ypg.). But Saturday's 56-yard rushing effort against Pittsburgh did little to bolster the unit's reputation. QB Paul Peterson is averaging 233.7 passing yards per game (third in the league) and WR Grant Adams has reeled in 27 receptions for 406 yards.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The conference's top-ranked defense has surrendered just 11.5 points and 275.5 yards per game. Opponents have scored seven touchdowns and six field goals in six games. DE Mathias Kiwanuka, the Big East sack leader in 2003, has recorded four this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've won there. We've won big games there. I think our kids like playing there. They like the crowd and like the enthusiasm. There's a lot of electricity there and that's the kind of game our kids like to be in." -- Boston College coach Tom O'Brien, on playing at Notre Dame Stadium.

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Boston College at Notre Dame, Oct. 23 -- Coming off a 20-17 overtime loss at Pittsburgh, Boston College (4-2) will head to Notre Dame (5-2) for a non-conference game. The Eagles edged the Irish 27-25 last season on a last-minute field goal and have won three in a row in the series. If Boston College rediscovers its run game, Notre Dame will have its hands full.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Paul Peterson -- The senior completed 32 of 53 passes for a career-high 367 yards in the 20-17 loss to Pittsburgh. Peterson delivered touchdown passes to receivers Larry Lester and Joel Hazard. He is the Big East's third-rated passer.

WR Larry Lester -- Having recovered from an early-season injury, the junior could finish the year as Boston College's top receiver. He managed five receptions for 54 yards at Pittsburgh, including a game-tying fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Peterson.

ROSTER REPORT: RB Andre Callender (groin) has returned to practice, but is still questionable for Notre Dame. He has missed two games.

CONNECTICUT
Coach Randy Edsall is thrilled the Huskies won't play any more midweek games this season. Connecticut has played on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights to accommodate television coverage.

The Huskies dropped two of the three games, including last Wednesday's 31-19 loss to West Virginia.

"I'm happy we're back playing on Saturdays," Edsall said. "It's nice to play on TV, but if I had my druthers, I'd continue to play on Saturdays because of kids missing classes and those kinds of things.

"But the (West Virginia loss) was a thing of the past after Thursday, when we watched tape and made corrections. Hopefully we learned from it."

Connecticut (4-2) will play its final Big East home game of the season on Saturday, when it hosts Temple (1-6) at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. The Huskies have lost two of their last four games, but remain in the middle of the league's standings.

Connecticut only trailed West Virginia 10-6 with about four minutes remaining in the third quarter, but wouldn't get any closer. Senior quarterback Dan Orlovsky completed 24 of 47 passes for 268 yards and threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns, but he was intercepted three times.

Sophomore tailback Cornell Brockington added 90 rushing yards on 23 carries in the loss, but was kept out of the end zone.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Connecticut's passing offense (279.7 ypg.) should dominate Temple's beleaguered secondary. Then again, the Owls held Rutgers' league-leading passing attack to 193 yards. Huskies QB Dan Orlovsky has thrown 12 touchdown passes against nine interceptions, and is the league's top passing threat.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Huskies have the league's second-ranked defense (301.2 ypg.), and opponents are averaging only 18.7 points per game. Connecticut is tied for second in the conference with 12 sacks.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Walter wasn't a guy we recruited. But he's a big strong guy and has a very good arm. You have to be alert for him running the football and throwing the football. Watching him on tape it looks like he's doing what they're asking him to do." -- Connecticut coach Randy Edsall, on facing Temple quarterback Walter Washington this weekend.

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Temple at UConn, Oct. 23 -- The game will be the fifth straight sellout at Connecticut's Rentschler Field. QB Dan Orlovsky, the Big East's leading passer with 276.3 yards per game, will attempt to expose Temple's league-worst defense.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Dan Orlovsky -- The senior completed 24 of 47 passes for 268 yards and was intercepted three times against West Virginia. He did, however, throw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, which tied him for first place on Connecticut's all-time list.

CB Justin Perkins -- The senior is tied for the league lead in interceptions with three. He also has broken up six passes.

ROSTER REPORT: DE Tyler King broke his right leg two weeks ago and is expected to be out at least another month.

PITTSBURGH
The Panthers' run game finally got untracked due in no small part to a consistent offensive line. For perhaps the first time all season, coach Walt Harris praised the line's play in a 20-17 victory over Boston College on Saturday.

"We have a lot of young players still trying to learn what it is to play consistently at this level," Harris said. "It was very exciting for us. In our minds it was a real good win."

LT Rob Petitti, LG Charles Spencer, C Justin Belarski, RG John Simonitis and RT Mike McGlynn sprung tailback Raymond Kirkley for 88 yards and one touchdown. The Panthers rushed for a season-high 177 yards in the victory.

Like every coach, Harris is searching for consistency midway through the campaign. He said Pittsburgh (4-2) played its best four quarters of the season on Saturday, but now must maintain that level against Rutgers (4-2) this weekend.

Pittsburgh quarterback Tyler Palko is averaging 207.7 passing yards per game and has displayed uncommon mobility in recent weeks. That's a good sign as the Panthers look to continue their dominance in the series. The Panthers have bested the Scarlet Knights in five straight meetings and hold a 10-3 edge in Big East play.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: QB Tyler Palko was finally given some run support as the Panthers managed 177 yards on the ground last week. Palko will be even more dangerous with a sound rushing attack behind him. Pittsburgh is averaging 24.3 points per game, fourth in the Big East.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Panthers own the Big East's fourth-ranked defense in terms of scoring (22.2 ppg.) and yardage (375.7). LB H.B. Blades leads the team with 57 tackles, 8.5 for loss.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was a good win for us, now we have to come back to earth. ... This game against Rutgers is going to be a real challenge -- it always has been. We play good for a half, then we don't show up." -- Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris, on his team's 20-17 win over Boston College on Saturday and matchup with Rutgers this weekend.

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Rutgers at Pittsburgh, Oct. 23 -- The Panthers have won the past five meetings, including a 42-32 decision at Rutgers last season. To make it six in a row, Pittsburgh's secondary must show up to defend the Scarlet Knights' passing offense, which has been the most productive in the league. The Panthers surrendered 367 yards through the air to Boston College last weekend.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Tyler Palko -- Hasn't thrown an interception in either of the past two games. Palko completed 12 of 27 passes for 131 yards in the win over Boston College. He also rushed for 55 yards and a 3-yard touchdown.

P Adam Graessle -- The sophomore leads the league with a 43.7-yard punting average. He managed a 79-yard punt against Boston College.

ROSTER REPORT: LT Rob Petitti (concussion) returned to the field last week after a one-game absence. Defensive end Kyle Smith, offensive lineman Neal Tracey and fullbacks Tim Murphy and Justin Acierno did not dress for the Boston College game due to injury.

RUTGERS

The Scarlet Knights' already significant injury issues grew considerably worse Saturday night when defensive backs Dondre Asberry, Manny Collins and Eddie Grimes were involved in a multi-vehicle accident following a 16-6 victory over Temple.

Asberry was listed in stable condition, but was still recovering in a local hospital on Monday. Collins and Grimes were released with head and neck ailments Saturday night. Asberry won't play at Pittsburgh this weekend and both Collins and Grimes are doubtful.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano will have eight semi-experienced defensive backs at his disposal, but only starters Joe Porter and Derrick Roberson have seen significant time at cornerback.

"We're blessed that they are all alive, but it will affect us in the secondary," Schiano said. "We have our work cut out for us. I expect Pittsburgh to take advantage of that."

Rutgers will also need to replace its replacement at right tackle. Sophomore Cameron Stephenson, who filled in for injured starter Sameeh McDonald (knee) against Temple, is doubtful with a high ankle sprain.

Wide receiver Shawn Tucker (groin), linebacker Berkeley Hutchinson (shoulder) and offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah (knee) are also questionable for Pittsburgh.

Rutgers finally snapped a stretch of alternating wins and losses by securing its second straight victory against Temple.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: QB Ryan Hart struggled against Temple (18-for-30, 193 yards, three INTs), but managed back-to-back 300-yard performances in Rutgers' previous two games. The Scarlet Knights' rushing offense is ranked last in the league at 96.8 yards per game.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Scarlet Knights surrendered 360 yards, but held Temple to just two field goals. Rutgers also forced four turnovers. The Scarlet Knights own the league's fifth-ranked total defense (401.5 ypg.).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "When linebackers and defensive backs trying to tackle you are smaller than you, it's an advantageous position. We have to make sure he's accounted for in everything they do. It seems that's what we face every week -- a big, mobile quarterback. That seems to be the trend in college football." -- Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, on defending Pittsburgh's 6-2, 220-pound quarterback Tyler Palko on Saturday.

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Rutgers at Pittsburgh, Oct. 23 -- The game's result could have definite bowl implications for both teams, which enter the game at 4-2. The Scarlet Knights dropped a 42-32 decision to the Panthers last season.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: WR Tres Moses -- The senior reeled in nine receptions for 98 yards in Rutgers' 16-6 victory over Temple on Saturday. Moses managed 147 and 109 receiving yards in the Scarlet Knights' two previous games against Syracuse and Vanderbilt. He has caught at least one pass in 17 consecutive games.

FS Ron Girault -- In his first career start, the true freshman recorded a team-high 13 tackles and intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter. The interception eventually resulted in three points and a 9-6 Rutgers lead. He was named Co-Big East Defensive Player of the Week on Monday.

ROSTER REPORT: RT Sameeh McDonald (knee), WR Shawn Tucker (groin), LB Berkeley Hutchinson (shoulder), OT Cameron Stephenson (ankle), OL Jeremy Zuttah (knee), DB Manny Collins (head, neck) and CB Eddie Grimes (head, neck) are doubtful for the Pittsburgh game. DB Dondre Asberry (spine) won't be available.

TEMPLE
Having nearly won two Big East games in as many weeks, the Owls are looking to finally snap a streak of 10 straight conference losses when they play at Connecticut (4-2) on Saturday.

Temple dropped a 27-22 decision to Pittsburgh on Oct. 9, then fell 16-6 at Rutgers last weekend. The Owls have lost four straight games.

"It's not a lack of effort and it's not a lack of preparation during the week," coach Bobby Wallace said. "I wasn't sure that we were good enough on defense. But if we can play like we did on Saturday, I feel good about our defense."

The Owls (1-6) held Rutgers' passing offense, which is ranked first in the conference, to 193 yards. The Scarlet Knights also turned the ball over five times.

Junior quarterback Walter Washington has proven week in and week out that he is Temple's only legitimate offensive option. The team's running game has been nonexistent and the Owls' receiving corps unimpressive.

Washington completed 21 of 39 passes for 219 yards and was intercepted twice on Saturday. He added 67 rushing yards on 27 carries, but failed to produce a touchdown.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Temple features the league's last-ranked scoring offense (19.3 ppg.) and fifth-ranked total offense (362.7 ypg.). QB Walter Washington leads the team in rushing (61.4, 8 TDs) and passing (187.4, 4 TDs) yardage.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Owls own the Big East's worst scoring (36.3 ppg.) and total defense (429.9 ypg.). LB Troy Bennett leads the team in tackles with 65. Temple is coming off its best defensive performance of the season at Rutgers.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's been a little frustrating, but we have to get back to work and get ready for another one." -- Coach Bobby Wallace, on Temple's struggles this season. The Owls have beaten just one team -- I-AA representative Florida A&M -- in seven tries.

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Temple at UConn, Oct. 23 -- The Owls have beaten the Huskies in seven of eight games, but the tables appear to be turned this time around. If the defense can build on last week's performance at Rutgers (283 yards), it might have a chance in East Hartford.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Walter Washington -- A week after throwing for a career-high 314 yards and three touchdowns in a loss to Pittsburgh, Washington completed 21 of 39 passes for 219 yards and was intercepted twice in the Rutgers game. He added 67 rushing yards on 27 carries.

CB Jermaine Hargraves -- The junior recovered a fumble, intercepted a Ryan Hart pass and returned it 14 yards in defeat. He also recorded four tackles.

ROSTER REPORT: DL Antwon Burton (foot) didn't play against Rutgers and is sidelined indefinitely. The Owls are otherwise healthy.


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