This week, the Big East announced a four-year agreement with the EV1.Net Houston Bowl. Beginning in 2006, the Big East will send a team to the state-of-the-art Reliant Stadium in Houston to meet an opponent from the Big 12 Conference. The Big East Bowl lineup for 2006 includes: sending its champion to a BCS Bowl, then sending a team to either the Toyota Gator in Jacksonville, Fla. or the Vitalis Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, the EV1.Net Houston Bowl and the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.
USF Bulls Are Earning Notice
With their second straight road win last week, a 27-0 blanking of Syracuse, Coach Jim Leavitt's USF Bulls are catching the eyes of the college football world. USF is 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the Big East. For the second straight week, senior running back Andre Hall earned Big East Offensive Player of the Week honors. He is fourth in the nation in rushing, averaging 123.8 yards per game. If the Bulls win their three remaining games, they will at least tie for the conference crown and be the Big Eastrepresentative in the Bowl Championship Series. This Saturday, USF hosts Cincinnati in the Big East Game of the Week, which is produced by ESPN Regional. The game will also be carried on ESPN Gameplan. Kickoff is noon EST.
Mountaineers and Cardinals Move Up In BCS Standings
West Virginia and Louisville continued their ascent in the BCS Standings. This week, the Mountaineers moved up two spots to No. 12 and the Cardinals flew from 25th to 18th. WVU is 8-1 overall and 5-0 in Big East play. The Cardinals are 7-2 overall and 3-2 in league play. Both teams are idle this Saturday. West Virginia is preparing for its annual battle with Pittsburgh – the Backyard Brawl – on Thanksgiving night on ESPN. Louisville will host Syracuse on Saturday, Nov. 26.
Louisville's Dumervil Makes Another List
Defensive end Elvis Dumervil of Louisville was recognized again this week by being named one of four finalists for the Rotary Lombardi Award, annually given to the nation's top defensive player. The senior from Miami, Fla. has 20 sacks, 7 ½ more than any other player in the country. He needs five more to break the NCAA record. Dumervil already has set the NCAA mark for forced fumbles in a season with nine. He is also among the 10 "Players To Watch" for the Walter Camp Football Foundation Player of the Year award. Last week, Dumervil was named a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the nation's top defensive end.
Cincinnati vs. South Florida
The Cincinnati-USF series is tied at one game apiece. The two teams first played in 2003 with the Bulls taking a 24-17 double-overtime victory in Tampa. The Bearcats evened up the series on Nov. 20, 2004, defeating USF 45-23 at Nippert Stadium.
Quarterback Gino Guidugli led UC going 30-of-36 for 377 yards and three touchdowns. Cincinnati rushed for 200 yards and totaled 577 yards of offense – the sixth highest single game performance in school history. Running back Andre Hall led the Bulls with 155 yards rushing and a touchdown.
This season, Cincinnati is 1-3 away from home. The Bearcats have turned the ball over 11 times in three road losses. The Bearcats are 4-0 when out-rushing their opponent. Defensive back Mike Mickens is tied for fourth in the nation in passes defended (1.56).
USF, 3-0 at home this season, is going for its third straight win. Saturday's game marks the first time in 56 days that the Bulls have played at home. USF's last outing in Raymond James Stadium was a 45- 14 win over No. 9/8 Louisville on Sept. 24. A win over the Bearcats will make the Bulls bowl eligible for the second time in their nine seasons (five years in IA).
USF is among the NCAA leaders in a number of categories: rushing (10th, 234.8), pass defense (13th, 176.9), total defense (18th, 305.8), scoring defense (14th, 17.9), punt returns (18th, 13.1), turnover margin (10th, 1.13), fumbles recovered (T13th, 12), turnovers (T18th, 23) and sacks (9th, 3.38). Running back Andre Hall is fourth in the nation in rushing (123.8), 13th in all-purpose yards (153.13) and 17th in scoring (9.43). Linebacker Ben Moffitt is tied for sixth in forced fumbles (0.50).
Syracuse vs. Notre Dame
This is the fifth meeting all-time between Syracuse and Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish took the first two games in the series, but the Orange have won the last two.
In the last meeting between the two teams on Dec. 6, 2003, Syracuse defeated Notre Dame by the score of 38-12 at the Carrier Dome. SU running back Walter Reyes ran for 189 yards (on 19 carries) and five touchdowns in the game. The Orange out-gained the Irish by a 456-261 margin. ND quarterback Brady Quinn was 18-of-34 for 199 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
This season, Syracuse is winless on the road (0-3). The Orange are sixth nationally in pass defense (163.22). Safety Anthony Smith ranks among the NCAA leaders in both interceptions (3rd, 0.63) and passes defended (T7th, 1.44). Punter Brendan Carney is 15th in the nation in punting with a 43.31 avg. Running back Damien Rhodes is fourth in the Big East in rushing (86.1 ypg) and third in all-purpose yards (116.2). He has 775 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on the season.
Notre Dame is averaging 38.7 points per game and 477.4 yards of total offense. Quarterback Brady Quinn has 2,931 yards passing and 27 touchdowns. Running back Darius Walker has rushed for 797 yards and four touchdowns. Wideout Jeff Samardzija, a pitcher in the Big East for the Fighting Irish, has 56 receptions for 919 yards and 12 touchdowns.