Big East Previews

Previewing this weekend's Big East football action.

CINCINNATI At Virginia Tech
Sat 9/23
Cincinnati will hit the road for the second straight week to face yet another top 15-ranked opponent, Virginia Tech. In the last meeting between the two teams, Cincinnati defeated the Hokies 16-0 on Sept. 16, 1995.

Last week against No. 1 Ohio State, the Bearcats took an early 7-3 lead. The Bearcats' early edge against Buckeyes marked the first time all season that Ohio State had trailed in a game. Cincinnati remained within striking distance midway through the third quarter before falling, 37-7. Despite the loss, tight end Brent Celek extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one reception to 15. Celek, with three receptions for 39 yards, topped the UC career mark for receiving yards by a tight end. Celek currently has 800 career receiving yards to surpass the previous mark of 791 set by Kris Bjorson (1989-92).

Cincinnati quarterback Dustin Grutza finished the game going 18-of-22 for 202 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Grutza completed passes to nine different receivers.

Virginia Tech has given up only 10 points in three games this season. The Hokies defeated Duke, 36-0, on Sept. 16. Quarterback Sean Glennon threw for 301 yards and two scores. The Hokies held Duke to 139 yards of total offense.

Sat 9/23
3:30 p.m.
ERT Local
Connecticut will travel to Indiana to face the Hoosiers for the second time in four years. The last time the two teams met, UConn defeated Indiana, 34-10, at home.

The Huskies will look to rebound from last week's 24-13 loss to Wake Forest at Rentschler Field. Against Wake Forest, running back Terry Caulley rushed for 81 yards and became UConn's all-time leading rusher with 2,689 career yards. It was the first time since the Huskies joined Division I-A in 2002 that they lost despite owning an advantage in rushing yards, passing yards, total yards and time of possession.

UConn is fourth in the nation in rushing offense (272.5) and 12th in total offense (445.5). The Huskies are also fourth nationally in passing defense (102.5). UConn linebacker Donta Moore is first in the nation in tackled for loss (3.75).

Indiana will be without head coach Terry Hoeppner, who is recovering from surgery. The Hoosiers lost to Southern Illinois, 35-28, on Sept. 16 as the Salukis scored 28 points in the second half. Indiana quarterback Kellen Lewis threw for 238 yards and one TD, but the Hoosiers were held to just 76 yards rushing. Lewis leads IU in both passing and rushing in 2006. He has completed 35-of-68 for 466 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and rushed for 89 yards and a score.

Sat 9/23
Louisville will face Kansas State for the first time in program history with hopes of beginning a season 4-0 for the fifth straight season. In three games this year, the Cardinals rank No. 1 in the NCAA in scoring offense (50.7 ppg) and total offense (563.7 ypg). Defensively, the Cardinals are just as impressive as they have only allowed only 11.7 points per game and have limited their opponents to just 102 yards on the ground all season, which is the third best total in the NCAA.

Louisville is coming off a 31-7 victory over Miami. The victory over Miami at home was Louisville's 14th straight victory at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. The Cardinals home winning streak is the longest in school history and is the second longest current streak in the nation behind USC. Quarterback Brian Brohm left the game with 10:30 remaining in the third quarter with a thumb injury that will force him out of the lineup for 3-6 weeks. Prior to leaving the contest, Brohm had completed 10-of-14 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown, moving him up to 10th in career passing yardage. Hunter Cantwell replaced Brohm at quarterback and went 3-of-4 for 113 yards and one touchdown.

Kansas State beat Marshall, 23-7, on Sept. 16. The Wildcats are currently 3-0 with all three wins coming at home. Kansas State is 14th nationally in total defense and 12th in scoring defense. The Wildcats have not allowed a touchdown in the last eight quarters.

PITTSBURGH vs. The Citadel
Sat 9/23
1:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh will face The Citadel for the first time in program history, looking to rebound from a 38-23 home loss against Michigan State on Sept. 16. In the loss, wideout Derek Kinder continued his strong season finishing with nine catches for 121 yards and one touchdown. It was Kinder's second consecutive 100-yard receiving game. He is tops in the conference and ranks second in the nation in receiving yards per game (123.3). Kinder caught three passes for a career-high 172 yards and a touchdown at Cincinnati on Sept. 8. He has now caught a touchdown pass in each of Pitt's first three games. Quarterback Tyler Palko finished 28-of-47 for 277 yards and two touchdowns versus Michigan State last week. Palko is in the top 15 nationally in both total offense (14th, 281.3) and passing efficiecy (15th, 162.1).

The Citadel rallied from 28- 13 in the fourth quarter, but lost to local rival Charleston Southern, 38-35, in OT on Sept. 9. The Bulldogs Running back Nura Goodrum leads the Citadel with 124 yards rushing, to go along with two touchdowns. Defense back Joshua Lawson has 26 tackles through the team's first two games of the year.

RUTGERS vs. Howard
Sat 9/23
2:00 p.m.
ERT Local
Rutgers enters its game against Howard aiming to improve to 4-0 for the first time since 1980. Last week, the Scarlet Knights defeated Ohio, 24-7, to open the season 3-0 for the first time since the 1981 season. It marked just the 18th time in program history (137 years) that RU started a year with three straight victories. Rutgers enters the game against the Bison with the 10th-ranked defense in the NCAA (216.0). Running back Ray Rice is fourth in the NCAA in rushing (166.3 ypg) behind Northern Illinois's Garrett Wolf (210.0 ypg), Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson (171.7) and West Virginia's Steve Slaton (167.7 ypg).

Against Ohio, Rice rushed for 190 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns. Defensively, the Scarlet Knights have held their opponents to just 216 yards per game. Against Ohio, RU limited the Bobcats to 119 total yards, marking the lowest offensive output by a Scarlet Knight opponent since Oct. 2, 1993 when RU held Temple to 118 total yards in a 62-0 victory over the Owls. In RU's last two games, it has surrendered a combined total of 244 yards (126 against Illinois). Rutgers also collected two interceptions, one by cornerback Ron Girault and another by safety Courtney Greene. RU has six interceptions in its first three games, equaling its total in all 12 games of last season.

Florida A&M defeated Howard, 31-23, last week. FAMU scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to send the Bison to their sixth straight loss.

Sat 9/23
7:00 p.m.
USF hits the road to face Kansas for the first time ever. USF's meeting with the Jayhawks on Saturday marks the third time the Bulls have faced an opponent from the Big 12. USF is 0-2 against teams from the Big 12 having lost to Baylor (28-13) on Sept. 23, 2000 and Oklahoma (31-14) on Sept. 28, 2002.

Last week, USF won an important Sunshine State battle against Central Florida, topping the Golden Knights 24-17 on a fourth-quarter TD pass from Matt Grothe. A redshirt freshman, Grothe completed 21 of 31 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns against the UCF. Against UCF, USF scored 17 points in the second half.

This season, the Bulls have outscored their opponents 65-7 in second half. USF is now 3-0 for the first time since 1998. The Bulls quick start to the 2006 season marks just the second time in the 10-year history of the program in which USF has started 3-0. Grothe is first nationally in total offense among freshmen and 11th in the NCAA in total offense (286.7).

Kansas freshman quarterback Kerry Meier is second in the nation in total offense among freshmen. KU lost at Toledo on Friday, 37-31 (2OT). Meier has passed for six touchdowns and run for four this season. The Jayhawk defense has not allowed an opposing running back to gain 100 yards in the last 16 games. KU has won its last eight games at home.

SYRACUSE vs. Miami (OH)
Sat 9/23
7:00 p.m.
Syracuse will look to post back-to-back wins as it welcomes Miami (Ohio) to the Carrier Dome. Saturday's game will mark the third meeting between the two teams. Syracuse holds a 2-0 series advantage over the Redhawks. The last time the two teams met, Syracuse defeated Miami (Ohio), 24-10, in 1987. The schools first met on Sept. 20, 1980, with the Orange defeating Miami (Ohio), 36-24, in the first game at the Carrier Dome.

Last week, SU defeated Illinois on the road, 31-21. The win snapped the Orange's school-record 11-game losing streak. It also snapped SU's seven-game losing skid on the road. Quarterback Perry Patterson tossed two touchdown passes in the game to move into sole possession of ninth place on SU's career touchdown passes list. His two TD throws matched his personal best (at Connecticut, 2005). Receiver Taj Smith made the first start of his SU career against Illinois and finished with five catches for 106 yards and one touchdown. Smith also scooped up a Perry Patterson fumble and ran it 41 yards for a first-quarter touchdown. It was the first time this year that a SU receiver registered 100 yards receiving and the first time since Rice Moss tallied 116 yards at Louisville in the 2005 season finale.

Miami (Ohio) lost to Kent State, 16-14, on Sept. 16. The Redhawks scored the game's final two touchdowns, including a two-yard touchdown run by quarterback Mike Kokal with 1:04 remaining. Kokal was 20-of-35 for 167 yards, but was sacked six times.

WEST VIRGINIA At East Carolina
Sat 9/23
4:30 p.m.
After an impressive 45-24 victory against Maryland in front of a national audience, West Virginia looks to keep its perfect record intact on the road against against East Carolina. West Virginia and East Carolina will meet for the 18th time. Last year, the Mountaineers defeated the East Carolina at home 20-15. WVU has won the last five meetings (over the last six season). The last ECU win (30-23) came on Sept. 4, 1999 in Charlotte.

West Virginia enters the game with the top rushing offense in the NCAA (348.7 rushing yards per game). The Mountaineers are also fourth nationally in total offense averaging 486.3 yards per game. Running back Steve Slaton leads the Mountaineer ground game and is third in the NCAA in rushing yards per game (167.7 ypg) behind Northern Illinois's Garrett Wolf (210.0 ypg) and Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson (171.7). Against Maryland, Slaton reeled off touchdown runs of 38 and 37 yards. Slaton finished the game with 195 yards on 21 carries for an average of 9.3 yards per carry. For the game, West Virginia rolled up 340 rushing yards on 43 attempts for an impressive 7.9 yards per carry average.

East Carolina defeated Memphis, 35-20, on Sept. 16. The Pirates used five interceptions to come back from a 13-point deficit. ECU's Skip Holtz was the head coach at UConn from 1994-98. His record at Connecticut was 34-23.

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