Big East Preview

Last week's four idle teams return to action this week, with the other four league teams taking their turn in the easy chair.

CINCINNATI Open
Cincinnati is idle this week, and next plays at West Virginia on 11/11

CONNECTICUT Open
Connecticut is idle this week, and next hosts Pittsburgh on 11/11

LOUISVILLE vs. West Virginia
Thu 11/2
7:30 p.m.
ESPN
West Virginia travels to Louisville for an ESPN nationally televised matchup that features a pair of undefeated BIG EAST squads. The Mountaineers and Cardinals both enter the contest after a week off and are ranked among the top five in both the USA Today and Associated Press Polls. West Virginia and Louisville are ranked among the top 10 nationally in several offensive categories including rushing offense (WVU- 1st, 319.0; UofL- 7th, 216.0), total offense (WVU- 4th, 459.3; UofL- 2nd, 496.1) and scoring offense (WVU- 2nd, 40.9; UofL- 5th, 38.7). The Cardinals are also ranked 10th nationally in passing offense (280.1). In addition, both teams feature strong defensive units. West Virginia and Louisville are both ranked among the NCAA's top 10 in scoring defense (WVU- 8th, 12.7; UofL- 7th, 12.6).

In last year's meeting, West Virginia defeated Louisville, 46-44, in a triple-overtime thriller in Morgantown. In that contest, Mountaineer running back Steve Slaton tied a league record with six touchdowns. Slaton scored all six touchdowns after halftime, including all three of WVU's scores in overtime. Slaton finished the game with 31 carries for 188 yards. Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm completed 31-of-49 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns.

This season, Slaton ranks fourth in the nation in rushing yards per game (151.3) and sixth in all-purpose yards (163.7). Despite missing time due to a thumb injury, UofL quarterback Brian Brohm has passed for 1,269 yards and four touchdowns. Louisville is 16-1 at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium since head coach Bobby Petrino's first season in 2003.

The last time two top-10 teams met in a BIG EAST Conference game was on Nov. 1, 2003. Virginia Tech (ranked 10th in the Associated Press Poll and 11th in the USA Today/ESPN Poll) defeated Miami (No. 2 in the AP Poll and No. 2 in the USA Today/ESPN Poll), 31-7, in Blacksburg, Va. The last time two top-five teams met in a BIG EAST Conference game was on Nov. 4, 2000. Miami (ranked No. 3 by AP and No. 3 by USA Today/ESPN) defeated Virginia Tech (ranked No. 2 by AP and No. 2 by USA Today/ESPN), 41-21, in Miami.


PITTSBURGH at South Florida
Sat 11/4
Noon
ERT
Pittsburgh and USF will meet for the fourth time, with the Bulls attempting to end a two-game losing streak versus the Panthers. In the three previous meetings, Pitt holds a 2-1 series advantage. The Panthers visit to Raymond James Stadium will be their first since 2004 when a 43-14 win earned them the league's BCS bid and a berth in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

In home games this season, USF has posted a mark of 3-1 with its lone loss coming to undefeated Rutgers, 22-20, on Sept. 29. Pittsburgh and USF both enter the contest after a week off and hope to rebound from losses the previous week. The Panthers lost at home to Rutgers, 20-10, on Oct. 21. The Bulls fell at Cincinnati, 23-6, on Oct. 22.

In last year's meeting, Pittsburgh defeated USF, 31-17, on Oct. 15 at Heinz Field. Panther quarterback Tyler Palko threw for 203 yards and three touchdowns last season versus the Bulls. Pitt also had a strong performance from then-freshman running back LaRod Stephens- Howling, who rushed for 91 yards on 14 carries.

Stephens-Howling has 618 yards and six touchdowns in 2006. The sophomore has 100 or more yards in two of his last three games. Palko enters this week's game second in the nation in passing efficiency with a rating of 180.3. He leads the BIG EAST in passing yards (1,830), touchdowns (18) and completion percentage (69.5). Panther linebacker H.B. Blades is third among NCAA leaders in tackles per game (12.1).

USF features one of the nation's top young quarterbacks, freshman Matt Grothe, who enters the contest as the nation's top freshman in total offense (264.0). Overall, Grothe ranks 13th nationally in total offense. Pittsburgh is 14th in the nation in scoring offense (34.1), while USF ranks 33rd in scoring defense (17.6). With a victory, the Bulls become bowl-eligible for a second straight year. With a win, the Panthers would improve to 7-2 overall for the second time in the last five years.


RUTGERS Open
Rutgers is idle this week, and next hosts Louisville on 11/9

SOUTH FLORIDA vs. Pitt
Sat 11/4
Noon
ERT
Pittsburgh and USF will meet for the fourth time, with the Bulls attempting to end a two-game losing streak versus the Panthers. In the three previous meetings, Pitt holds a 2-1 series advantage. The Panthers visit to Raymond James Stadium will be their first since 2004 when a 43-14 win earned them the league's BCS bid and a berth in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

In home games this season, USF has posted a mark of 3-1 with its lone loss coming to undefeated Rutgers, 22-20, on Sept. 29. Pittsburgh and USF both enter the contest after a week off and hope to rebound from losses the previous week. The Panthers lost at home to Rutgers, 20-10, on Oct. 21. The Bulls fell at Cincinnati, 23-6, on Oct. 22.

In last year's meeting, Pittsburgh defeated USF, 31-17, on Oct. 15 at Heinz Field. Panther quarterback Tyler Palko threw for 203 yards and three touchdowns last season versus the Bulls. Pitt also had a strong performance from then-freshman running back LaRod Stephens- Howling, who rushed for 91 yards on 14 carries.

Stephens-Howling has 618 yards and six touchdowns in 2006. The sophomore has 100 or more yards in two of his last three games. Palko enters this week's game second in the nation in passing efficiency with a rating of 180.3. He leads the BIG EAST in passing yards (1,830), touchdowns (18) and completion percentage (69.5). Panther linebacker H.B. Blades is third among NCAA leaders in tackles per game (12.1).

USF features one of the nation's top young quarterbacks, freshman Matt Grothe, who enters the contest as the nation's top freshman in total offense (264.0). Overall, Grothe ranks 13th nationally in total offense. Pittsburgh is 14th in the nation in scoring offense (34.1), while USF ranks 33rd in scoring defense (17.6). With a victory, the Bulls become bowl-eligible for a second straight year. With a win, the Panthers would improve to 7-2 overall for the second time in the last five years.


SYRACUSE Open
Syracuse is idle this week, and next plays at South Florida on 11/11

WEST VIRGINIA At Louisville
Thu 11/2
7:30 p.m.
ESPN
West Virginia travels to Louisville for an ESPN nationally televised matchup that features a pair of undefeated BIG EAST squads. The Mountaineers and Cardinals both enter the contest after a week off and are ranked among the top five in both the USA Today and Associated Press Polls. West Virginia and Louisville are ranked among the top 10 nationally in several offensive categories including rushing offense (WVU- 1st, 319.0; UofL- 7th, 216.0), total offense (WVU- 4th, 459.3; UofL- 2nd, 496.1) and scoring offense (WVU- 2nd, 40.9; UofL- 5th, 38.7). The Cardinals are also ranked 10th nationally in passing offense (280.1). In addition, both teams feature strong defensive units. West Virginia and Louisville are both ranked among the NCAA's top 10 in scoring defense (WVU- 8th, 12.7; UofL- 7th, 12.6).

In last year's meeting, West Virginia defeated Louisville, 46-44, in a triple-overtime thriller in Morgantown. In that contest, Mountaineer running back Steve Slaton tied a league record with six touchdowns. Slaton scored all six touchdowns after halftime, including all three of WVU's scores in overtime. Slaton finished the game with 31 carries for 188 yards. Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm completed 31-of-49 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns.

This season, Slaton ranks fourth in the nation in rushing yards per game (151.3) and sixth in all-purpose yards (163.7). Despite missing time due to a thumb injury, UofL quarterback Brian Brohm has passed for 1,269 yards and four touchdowns. Louisville is 16-1 at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium since head coach Bobby Petrino's first season in 2003.

The last time two top-10 teams met in a BIG EAST Conference game was on Nov. 1, 2003. Virginia Tech (ranked 10th in the Associated Press Poll and 11th in the USA Today/ESPN Poll) defeated Miami (No. 2 in the AP Poll and No. 2 in the USA Today/ESPN Poll), 31-7, in Blacksburg, Va. The last time two top-five teams met in a BIG EAST Conference game was on Nov. 4, 2000. Miami (ranked No. 3 by AP and No. 3 by USA Today/ESPN) defeated Virginia Tech (ranked No. 2 by AP and No. 2 by USA Today/ESPN), 41-21, in Miami.


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