Big East Report

Conference notes and a look ahead to the weekends' games.

Two BIG EAST Players Named Semifinalists For ‘Academic Heisman'

Rutgers defensive tackle Ryan Neill and West Virginia safety Mike Lorello have been named national semifinalists for the 2005 Draddy Trophy, generally known as the "Academic Heisman," and for the National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete Awards. Neill, a senior from Wayne Hills, N.J., was an All-BIG EAST First Team selection last year. He is a communication major. Lorello, a native of Powell, Ohio, was an All-BIG EAST Second Team pick in 2004. He is majoring in finance. This season, Neill is among the league leaders in sacks (4.0) and tackles for loss (10.0). Lorello already has 30 tackles, three sacks and three forced fumbles. The two players meet on the field Saturday when Rutgers hosts West Virginia.


Connecticut Ranks Among The Nation's Best On Defense

This week, Connecticut is ranked first nationally in total defense, yielding only 213.5 yards per game. The Huskies are also first in pass defense, giving up 131.0 yards per contest. Coach Randy Edsall's squad ranks fifth in scoring defense, allowing 10.3 points per game.


No One Is Creating More Havoc Than Louisville's Dumervil

Louisville's Elvis Dumervil may cause more problems for offenses than any player in the nation. This week, the senior defensive end leads the country in three categories -- sacks per game (2.75), forced fumbles (1.25) and tackles for loss (3.25).


Syracuse Meets UConn Friday on ESPN2

This week's BIG EAST television schedule begins on Friday night when Syracuse plays at Connecticut on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET. Last year, the two teams combined for 972 yards as the Orange prevailed, 42-30. On Saturday, West Virginia travels to Rutgers in the BIG EAST Game of the Week at noon. The North Carolina at Louisville game will be carried locally in Louisville on WHAS. The Cincinnati at Pittsburgh matchup will not be televised.


GAME PREVIEWS

Syracuse vs. Connecticut

Syracuse won the only meeting between the two schools, 42-30, on Oct. 30, 2004 at the Carrier Dome. SU quarterback Perry Patterson completed 11-of-19 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Walter Reyes ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns. For Connecticut, quarterback Dan Orlovsky was 39-of-51 for 445 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Running back Cornell Brockington registered 123 yards on the ground and one score. The two teams combined for 972 yards of offense (UConn-577, SU-406). UConn had five turnovers, while Syracuse did not turn the ball over. The five Husky turnovers led to 28 Orange points. This season, Syracuse is 10th in the nation in turnover margin (+1.20), tied for eighth in turnovers gained (12) and tied for 16th in interceptions (7). SU defensive end Ryan LaCasse ranks fourth nationally in sacks per game (1.50) and safety Anthony Smith is tied for 10th in passes defended per game (1.50). Connecticut is currently tops in the nation in total defense (213.50) and pass defense (131.0) and is fifth in scoring defense (10.25). Cornerback Darius Butler is sixth nationally in interceptions per game (.75).


West Virginia vs. Rutgers

This will be the 33rd meeting all-time between West Virginia and Rutgers. WVU holds a 26-4-2 lead in the overall series and a 12-2 advantage in BIG EAST play versus the Scarlet Knights. The Mountaineers have taken 11 straight in the series, including a 35-30 win last season on Oct. 30 at Rutgers Stadium. West Virginia outgained Rutgers on the ground, 267-87, including a game-high 103 yards rushing from running back Jason Colson. WVU quarterback Rasheed Marshall ran for 79 yards and one touchdown and threw for 165 yards and a score. For Rutgers, quarterback Ryan Hart was 35-of-46 for 324 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Wideout Tres Moses caught eight passes for 94 yards and a touchdown. The Scarlet Knights turned the ball over four times. WVU did not have a turnover. This season, West Virginia ranks among the NCAA leaders in rushing (16th, 217.8), total defense (8th, 255.20), rushing defense (17th, 88.20), pass defense (17th, 167.0) and scoring defense (16.40). Mountaineer safety Mike Lorello is tied for 11th in the nation in forced fumbles per game (0.80). Rutgers is tied for 7th nationally in sacks (4.0), seventh in kickoff returns (29.78), 11th in punt returns (17.0) and 25th in scoring defense (17.75). Defensive end Ryan Neill is third in the nation in tackles for loss (2.50) and tied for 10th in sacks (1.0). Jeremy Ito is seventh in field goals per game (.667). Willie Foster is seventh in kickoff returns (32.00) and 10th in punt returns (17.0). A win by Rutgers would give the Scarlet Knights their first 2-0 start in the BIG EAST.


Cincinnati vs. Pitt

Pittsburgh leads the overall series versus Cincinnati by a 4-0 margin. This is the first BIG EAST Conference game for the Bearcats. In the last meeting between the two schools on Sept. 19, 1981, Pittsburgh defeated Cincinncati, 38-7. The Panthers are 3-0 versus UC in games played in Pittsburgh. The Panthers are currently third in the nation in pass defense (145.40). Pittsburgh quarterback Tyler Palko is 93-of-166 for 1,191 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions. Palko is second in the conference in passing yards and tied for first in touchdowns. Wideout Greg Lee leads the BIG EAST in receptions (26) and receiving yards (481). Panther linebacker H.B. Blades is tops in the league in tackles with 57. Cornerback Derrelle Revis leads the conference in passes defended (1.80 per game). For Cincinnati, running back Bradley Glatthaar has 221 yards rushing on 52 attempts, to go along with four touchdowns. Defensively, linebacker Haruki Nakamura is fifth in the BIG EAST in tackles per game (8.5). Cincinnati is tied for first in the BIG EAST in red zone offense with Syracuse, scoring on all nine of its opportunities.


North Carolina vs. Louisville

The all-time series between North Carolina and Louisville is tied, 2-2. The Cardinals lost their only home meeting against the Tar Heels, 17-10, on Sept. 21, 1995. Louisville won last season's meeting, 34-0, on Sept. 17 in Chapel Hill. The Cardinals piled up 278 yards on the ground (on 52 carries). UL running back Eric Shelton rushed for 86 yards and three touchdowns. Freshman quarterback Brian Brohm replaced starter Stefan LeFors in the fourth quarter and completed 5-of-8 passes for 54 yards. Brohm also ran for a four-yard touchdown. North Carolina is 2-2 overall this season. The Tar Heels defeated Utah, 31-17, on Oct. 1 in Chapel Hill. UNC quarterback Matt Baker completed 16-of-31 for 267 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Brandon Tate took the opening kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown. For the season, Baker is 63-of-130 for 1,005 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions. Louisville is seventh in the nation is total offense (510.5), tied for 10th in scoring offense (42.25) and 12th in passing offense (319.5). The Cardinals are tied for second in the nation in sacks (5.0). Quarterback Brian Brohm is 81-of-119 for 1,218 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. Brohm leads the BIG EAST in passing yards. Running backs Michael Bush leads the conference in rushing yards per game (117.5) and touchdowns (9). In his last three games, wideout Mario Urrutia has 17 catches for 446 yards and three scores.


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