Big East Report

Notes and previews from around the conference

USF Earns National Recognition With Win Over Louisville

In the first BIG EAST football game for both schools, USF defeated Louisville, 45-14, last Saturday in Tampa. The victory over the Cardinals, who were ranked eighth in the USA Today poll and ninth in the Associated Press poll, caught the eye of the college football world. USF was named the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week by the Football Writers Association of America. The FWAA also named USF linebacker Ben Moffitt the Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week.


Undefeated Mountaineers Meet Virginia Tech West Virginia, which improved to 4-0 with a win over East Carolina last weekend, hosts Virginia Tech on Saturday in a border rivalry game. WVU runs the ball well and also stops the run effectively. Offensively, the Mountaineers are 15th in rushing offense (234.8 yds. per game), which places them 15th in the nation this week. Defensively, WVU is yielding only 56.8 yards per game, which is third nationally.


BIG EAST Defenses Are Stingy

Five of the eight BIG EAST teams have defenses that are ranked in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense. They are: Connecticut (9.3 ppg.-4th), West Virginia (12.0-10th), USF (13.5-16th), Rutgers (14.0-Tie 19th), and Syracuse (14.0-Tie 19th).


Every BIG EAST Game This Week Is On The Tube

All seven games involving BIG EAST teams this week will be televised. Wednesday at 7 p.m., Cincinnati played at Miami (Ohio) on ESPN2. On Friday, ESPN2 will carry the Pittsburgh at Rutgers contest at 8 p.m. Five games are slated for Saturday and three kick off at noon. West Virginia hosts Virginia Tech on ESPN. Florida Atlantic plays at Louisville in the BIG EAST Game of the Week produced by ESPN Regional. Connecticut will play at Army on ESPNU. At 3:30, ABC will telecast Syracuse at Florida State. USF is at Miami on ESPNU at 8 p.m.


GAME PREVIEWS

Pitt vs. Rutgers

Pittsburgh leads the all-time series versus Rutgers by a 19-2 margin. The Panthers have taken the last six games in the series. The last RU win came on Oct. 17, 1998 (25-21). Pitt won last year's meeting, 41-17, on Oct. 23 at Heinz Field. Panther quarterback Tyler Palko completed 27-of- 43 for 318 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Pitt receivers Joe DelSardo (8-102-2) and Greg Lee (6-102) both posted 100-yard receiving games. Rutgers' quarterback Ryan Hart passed for 351 yards and one touchdown, but was intercepted four times. RU fullback Brian Leonard rushed for 78 yards and one touchdown. The Scarlet Knights are second in the BIG EAST in passing offense (256.0) and third in total offense (392.3). Pitt is third in the conference in passing offense (209.2). Defensively, Rutgers is fourth in scoring defense in the league (14.0). The Panthers are second in pass defense (119.2) and third in total defense (282.2). Hart (719 yards passing, 5 TD, 0 int.) and Palko (820 yards passing, 4 TD, 5 int.) are second and third in the BIG EAST in passing, respectively. RU's Leonard (300 yards, 3 TD) is third in the league in rushing. Pitt's Lee (351 yards, 2 TD) leads the conference in receiving yards.

Florida Atlantic vs. Louisville

This is the first meeting between Florida Atlantic and Louisville. FAU head coach Howard Schnellenberger coached at Louisville for 10 seasons, from 1985-94, during which time he recorded a 54-56-2 record. In 1990, the Cardinals finished 12th in the final AP Poll and won the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, 34-7, over Alabama. Florida Atlantic is 0-4 overall this season. In their last game on Sept. 22, the Owls lost at home to Louisiana-Monroe, 28-21. FAU quarterback Danny Embick has completed 52-for-97 for 689 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions this season. Louisville is eighth in the nation in passing offense (332.0) and 12th nationally in total offense (478.0). UL quarterback Brian Brohm is 14th in the nation in passing efficiency (163.7) and 15th in total offense (300.0). Brohm has passed for 936 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions on the season. Michael Bush (266 rushing yards and six TD) is tied for seventh in the nation in scoring (12.0 ppg). Defensive end Elvis Dumervil leads the nation in sacks (3.0 per game), forced fumbles (1.33) and tackles for loss (3.33).

Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia

This is the 52nd meeting in the Virginia Tech-West Virginia series. West Virginia leads the all-time series, 28-21-2. In last season's meeting on Oct. 2 in Blacksburg, the Hokies defeated the Mountaineers, 19-13. WVU held Virginia Tech without an offensive touchdown. The Hokies kicked four field goals and scored their only touchdown on a 74-yard blocked field goal return by Vincent Fuller. The lone West Virginia score came on a 34- yard interception return by Eric Wicks. This season, Virginia Tech is 4-0 overall and ranked No. 3 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Polls. In their last game, the Hokies defeated Georgia Tech at home, 51-7. Virginia Tech scored two touchdowns on interception returns and one on a blocked field goal return. Hokie quarterback Marcus Vick is 47-of-74 for 703 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception thus far in 2005. Virginia Tech has given up just 23 points in four games this season. The West Virginia defense ranks among the NCAA leaders in a number of categories, including rushing defense (3rd, 56.8), total defense (4th, 221.3), and scoring defense (10th, 12.0). The Mountaineers rank 15th nationally in rushing (234.8) without a player among the top nine BIG EAST Conference rushing leaders.

Connecticut vs. Army

Connecticut leads the all-time series versus Army by a 2-1 margin. The Huskies won last season's meeting, 40-3, on Sept. 25 in East Hartford. UConn running back Cornell Brockington ran for 111 yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Dan Orlovsky completed 25-of-34 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns. The Huskies outgained the Black Knights, 503-250. This season, Army is 0-3 overall, losing its last game 28-21 at home versus Iowa State on Sept. 23. Black Knights' running back Carlton Jones leads the team in rushing with 273 yards. Quarterback Zac Dahman has 615 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions. Connecticut is ninth in the nation in rushing offense (265.0) this season. Terry Caulley is fifth in the BIG EAST in rushing (84.7 ypg). Caulley has 254 yards, to go along with two touchdowns. Last season's leading Husky rusher, Cornell Brockington, has 149 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, UConn is second nationally in total defense (197.7) and pass defense (111.3), fourth in scoring defense (9.3) and 17th in rushing defense (86.3). Quarterback Matt Bonislawski has 405 passing yards and four touchdowns, as well as 121 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

Syracuse vs. Florida State

Florida State leads the all-time series versus Syracuse by a 4-1 margin. The only SU win in the series came in 1966 (37-21). Last season, the Seminoles defeated the Orange, 17-13, on Oct. 9 at the Carrier Dome. FSU rallied from a 10-3 halftime deficit with two touchdown runs by Leon Washington in the second half. For Syracuse, quarterback Perry Patterson was 19-of-28 for 207 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Washington had 164 yards rushing on 21 carries, to go along with two touchdowns for Florida State. This season, FSU is 3-0 overall, and is coming off a 28-17 road victory over Boston College on Sept. 17. Seminole quarterback Drew Weatherford has 652 yards passing and four touchdowns. FSU has outscored opponents 100-34 thus far in 2005. Syracuse is ranked sixth nationally in pass defense (128.3). SU running back Damien Rhodes (361 yards, 5 TD) is 10th in the nation in rushing yards per game. Defensive end Ryan LaCasse is tied for sixth nationally in sacks (4.0 total, 1.33 per game).

South Florida vs. Miami

This marks the first meeting between Miami and USF. The Bulls have already met two teams from the state of Florida this season, defeating Florida A&M, 37-3, on Sept. 10, and beating Central Florida, 31-14, on Sept. 17. USF has won three straight games after dropping its seasonopener at Penn State. Miami is 2-1 overall this season. After falling in their season opener, 10-7 at Florida State, the Hurricanes have responded with wins over Clemson (36-30 in ot) and Colorado (23-3). Last time out, Miami scored the first 16 points of the game to cruise to a 23-3 win at home versus Colorado on Sept. 24. UM quarterback Kyle Wright completed 20- of-39 passes for 264 yards and one touchdown. Wide receiver Sinorice Moss caught five passes for 111 yards and a score. USF running back Andre Hall (468 rushing yards and 6 TD) leads the BIG EAST in rushing yards. Hall is 13th nationally in rushing yards per game. Punter Brandon Baker is fifth in the nation in punting (46.65). The Bulls rank 10th in the nation in rushing (262.75). Defensively, USF is 16th nationally in scoring defense (13.5).


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