The Big East and the other five automatic-qualifying BCS conferences are the only leagues with multiple teams in the national polls this week.
Louisville's 69-14 triumph over North Carolina helped the Cardinals move up to No. 19 in the USA Today and Associated Press Polls. After its 27-14 victory at Rutgers, West Virginia got back into the national rankings, taking the 25th spot in the USA Today Poll. The Mountaineers are also 25th in the Harris Poll, which is a component of the BCS standings.
Louisville Meets West Virginia In Key Big East Tilt
No 19 Louisville and No. 25 West Virginia square off in Morgantown on Saturday in a critical conference game. ABC will televise the contest from Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium at 3:30 p.m. ET. The Cardinals feature an offense that is ranked third nationally in scoring, averaging an amazing 51.6 points per game. The Mountaineers will counter with a stout defense that yields only 16.0 points per game, which places them 17th nationally.
Connecticut Keeps Defending, Keeps Winning
Connecticut continues to shine defensively while rolling to a 4-1 start. Last Friday, the Huskies subdued Syracuse, 26-7, in a game televised by ESPN2. Syracuse's fourth-quarter touchdown was the first score against UConn in three home games this season. For the year, the Huskies remain first in the nation in total defense, allowing only 227.8 yards per game, and first in passing defense, giving up 129.8 yards per game. Connecticut plays at Cincinnati on Saturday.
TV Slate For The Weekend
In addition to the Louisville at West Virginia contest, which will also be available on ESPN's Gameplan, the Big East Game of the Week features Rutgers at Syracuse at noon. Last year, the Scarlet Knights and Orange combined for 991 yards in SU's 41-31 victory. The USF at Pittsburgh game at 2 p.m. will be carried on ESPN 360, the network's customized broadband service. You can watch the game free on your computer by going to www.ESPN360.com if your Internet provider offers this service.
Rutgers vs. Syracuse
Syracuse leads the all-time series versus Rutgers by a 28-6-1 margin. The Orange own a 16-3-1 mark against the Scarlet Knights in games played at Syracuse. The last RU win in the series came in 2003 when the Scarlet Knights beat the Orange, 24-7, in Piscataway.
Last season, SU defeated Rutgers by the score of 41-31 on Oct. 2 at the Carrier Dome. The two teams combined for 991 yards of total offense (SU-501, RU-490). For the Orange, running back Walter Reyes ran for 237 yards and two touchdowns to spark a SU rushing attack that totaled 370 yards. Running back Damien Rhodes also rushed for two touchdowns for Syracuse. For Rutgers, quarterback Ryan Hart was 29-of-49 for 311 yards and three touchdowns. Wideout Tres Moses caught 10 passes for 109 yards.
This season, the Scarlet Knight special teams are among the nation's best as Rutgers ranks seventh nationally in kickoff returns (27.92) and 16th in punt returns (14.63). RU defensive end Ryan Neill ranks second in the nation in tackles for loss (2.60) and is tied for 10th in sacks (1.00). Rutgers is tied for sixth in the nation in sacks per game (3.80).
Syracuse is 17th among NCAA leaders in pass defense (165.20). SU defensive end Ryan LaCasse is tied for fourth nationally in sacks (1.20).
South Florida vs. Pittsburgh
The all-time series between USF and Pittsburgh is tied, 1-1. The Bulls won the first meeting on Sept. 8, 2001 in Pittsburgh, 35-26. Last season, the Panthers defeated USF, 43-14, on Dec. 4 at Raymond James Stadium. Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko completed 19-of-28 passes for 411 yards and five touchdowns. Three of his touchdown passes went to wideout Greg Lee, who caught eight passes for 153 yards. For the Bulls, running back Andre Hall rushed for 85 yards on 15 carries. Hall also threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Pat Julmiste.
This season, Pittsburgh is 11th nationally in pass defense (154.33). The Panthers also rank ninth in the nation in kickoff returns (27.47) and 20th in punt returns (13.86). Wideout Greg Lee is 10th nationally in receiving yards (481) and is 12th in the nation in receiving yards per game (93.0). Linebacker H.B. Blades is 16th nationally in tackles per game (10.83). Defensive back Darrelle Revis is tied for eighth in passes defended (1.50).
USF is currently 13th in the nation in rushing (231.20) behind running back Andre Hall who is 19th in rushing (104.20).
The Bulls' defense is 18th nationally in scoring defense (16.2). USF is also ninth in punt returns (16.50), tied for sixth in fumbles recoverd (8) and tied for 12th in sacks (3.40).
Louisville vs. West Virginia
West Virginia leads the all-time series versus Louisville, 5-1. The Mountaineers took the first four games in the series before the Cardinals ended their four-game skid to the Mountaineers, 9-7, on Sept. 22, 1990 in Morgantown. The two teams last met on Oct. 9, 1993, with West Virginia defeating Louisville by the score of 36-34 in Morgantown.
This season, Louisville again has one of the nation's most potent offenses. The Cardinals are third in scoring offense (51.6) and 10th in both passing offense (326.2) and total offense (498.6). UL is also tied for third nationally in turnover margin (1.8).
Defensively, the Cardinals are second in the nation in both fumbles recovered (10) and sacks (4.80) and are tied for seventh in turnovers gained (14). Defensive end Elvis Dumervil leads the nation in sacks (2.80), tackles for loss (3.30) and forced fumbles (1.40). Quarterback Brian Brohm is second in the country in passing efficiency (180.74). Cardinal running back Michael Bush leads the nation in scoring (14.40).
West Virginia possesses one of the nation's top rushing offenses (14th, 220.83), despite not having a player among the Big East's top 10 in rushing. The Mountaineers also rank among the nation's top teams in total defense (9th, 261.83), rushing defense (16th, 94.2), scoring defense (17th, 16.0) and pass defense (19th, 167.67). The last time WVU was not in at least a first place tie in the Big East was on Oct. 2, 2003 (Pittsburgh 4-0; Miami and West Virginia 3-1). Note: In 2004, BC was 1-0 before West Virginia won its league opener.
Connecticut vs. Cincinnati
Cincinnati and Connecticut have met only once with the Bearcats defeating the Huskies, 45-28, on Nov. 3, 2001. This season, the Huskies are ranked at or near the top of the Big East both offensively and defensively. UConn is first in the league in rushing offense (251.8) and second in scoring offense (36.6).
Running back Terry Caulley leads the Husky ground attack with 427 yards and six touchdowns. Defensively, Connecticut is first in the nation in pass defense (129.8) and total defense (225.4) and is third in scoring defense (9.6).
Cincinnati is fourth in the conference in passing offense (208.0). Defensive back Mike Mickens is among the national leaders in passes defended (t-15th, 1.40). Quarterback Dustin Grutza is third in the Big East Conference in total offense (204.4 yds/game). Bearcat linebacker Haruki Nakamura is eighth in the league in tackles per game (7.8) and fifth in passes defended (1.00). Cincinnati is 2-0 this season when out-rushing its opponent.