While many college football observers have their eyes on a much-anticipated showdown between West Virginia and Louisville on Nov. 2, this Saturday's Rutgers-Pitt game also has emerged as an attention-grabbing contest. The Scarlet Knights, who are ranked No. 19 in the Associated Press and USA Today polls, take their 6-0 record on the road to meet the 6-1 Panthers, who were "26th" in both polls this week. Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko, who leads the nation in passing efficiency, will battle a Rutgers team that is first in the country in scoring defense, giving up only 8.3 points per game.
ZEROES TO THE RIGHT
Of the seven unbeaten teams in Division I-A, three reside in the BIG EAST Conference. The BIG EAST in the only conference in the nation with three undefeated teams – Louisville (6-0), Rutgers (6-0) and West Virginia (6-0).
THE REAL "YOU TUBE"
The BIG EAST has a full slate of conference games this weekend and three of the four contests will be televised nationally. On Friday, fourth-ranked West Virginia plays at Connecticut on ESPN's Friday night game at 8 p.m. Eastern time. The Rutgers at Pittsburgh game will be carried on Saturday by ESPN2 at 5:45 p.m. On Sunday, USF travels to Cincinnati for a Sunday night telecast on ESPN at 8 p.m. It is the first time in ESPN history that the network will televise conference games from the same league on three consecutive days. The BIG EAST Game of the Week -- sixth-ranked Louisville at Syracuse -- will be shown at noon to almost one-third of the country and will be available on ESPN Gameplan.
The BIG EAST finished 32-8 (.800) versus non-conference opponents this season, including 11-7 (.611) against teams from other charter BCS conferences. The BIG EAST's winning percentage versus non-conference opponents (.800) is the best in the history of the league. The best non-conference mark previously was in 2000 when the league went 28-9 (.757).
The .800 winning percentage tied the SEC for best among all conferences this year. The Big East's 11-7 (.611) record against other BCS conference schools was second only to the Pac 10's .625 mark, and that was compiled on just a 5-3 record.
The BIG EAST has five semifinalists for the 2006 Draddy Trophy, which is awarded to a senior for academic success, football performance and community leadership. The five also are candidates for the National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete Awards. The BIG EAST semifinalists are: tight end Brent Celek of Cincinnati, defensive tackle Rhema Fuller of Connecticut, quarterback Tyler Palko of Pittsburgh, fullback Brian Leonard of Rutgers and linebacker Jay Henry of West Virginia.