Big East Football Preview

A full slate of conference games are on tap for the Veteran's Day weekend

CINCINNATI At West Virginia
Sat 11/11
Noon
ESPN2
Cincinnati and West Virginia will face each other for the 15th time on Saturday. WVU has won 12 of the 14 meetings, and holds a 6-1-1 mark versus UC in eight home games. The Bearcats' only win in the series was a 15-13 decision in Morgantown in 2003.

In last season's meeting, the Mountaineers won at Cincinnati, 38-0. In that game, West Virginia running back Steve Slaton rushed for 129 yards on 25 carries and scored four touchdowns. Last year's contest also saw quarterback Patrick White total 211 yards of offense (111 rushing/100 passing).

The Mountaineers enter the game after falling, 44-34, on the road to Louisville. The loss to the Cardinals on Nov. 2 snapped the Mountaineers' school-record 14-game winning streak. Despite West Virginia's loss to Louisville, the Mountaineers rolled up 540 yards of total offense. This season, WVU ranks among top 10 in several NCAA categories including rushing offense (2nd, 318.9), total offense (3rd, 469.4) and scoring offense (3rd, 40.0). In addition, Slaton is ranked second in the NCAA in rushing yards per game (151.88).

The Bearcats enter Saturday's contest coming off a bye week and will be in search of their third straight win. With one more victory, UC will be bowl-eligible for the first time since 2004 when the Bearcats defeated Marshall, 32-14, in the Fort Worth Bowl. The last time Cincinnati won three straight games was in 2004. The Mountaineers will be the Bearcats' fourth ranked opponent this season. In the BIG EAST, West Virginia is ranked first in rushing offense (318.9), while Cincinnati is tops in rushing defense (89.3).


CONNECTICUT vs. Pitt
Sat 11/11
3:30 p.m.
ERT Local
Pittsburgh travels to Connecticut for the first time since 2004. The last time the Panthers played at Connecticut, the Huskies won, 29-17, at Rentschler Field. Saturday's contest will mark just the third time that the two teams have met.

In last season's meeting, Pittsburgh defeated Connecticut, 24-0, in its final home game of the 2005 season. In that contest, Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko accounted for two of the Panthers' scores as he threw for one touchdown and ran for another. This season, Palko has thrown for 1,989 yards and 19 touchdowns. The senior leads the BIG EAST in both categories. He also ranks third among NCAA quarterbacks in passing efficiency (170.80). The Panthers enter the game looking to rebound from their 22-12 loss at USF on Nov. 4.

Connecticut is coming off a bye week. In the Huskies' last game, UConn fell, 24-13, at Rutgers on Oct. 29. Despite the loss, freshman running back Donald Brown III rushed for a career-high 199 yards and two touchdowns. Brown's rushing total was the most by a UConn freshman since Cornell Brockington had 186 against Western Michigan on Nov. 1, 2003. Brown was the first rusher to go over 100 yards against Rutgers this season. Connecticut ranks 14th nationally in rushing offense (192.2), while Pittsburgh ranks 16th in the nation in scoring offense (31.7). The Panthers are also 13th nationally in scoring defense (15.0) and have forced 20 turnovers this year to place them t-17th in the nation. With a win, Pitt will have reached seven victories in six of the last seven seasons.


LOUISVILLE At Rutgers
Thu 11/9
7:30 p.m.
ESPN
Louisville will face its second straight unbeaten conference opponent on national television (ESPN), as the Cardinals travel to Rutgers. The UofL enters the contest after defeating West Virginia, 44-34, in front of a record sellout crowd at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. The Cardinals' win over the Mountaineers marked the first time in program history that the UofL had defeated a top five opponent.

The Scarlet Knights are coming off a bye week and will look to improve to 9-0 for the first time since 1976. In the five previous meetings between the two teams, Rutgers holds a 4-1 series advantage. Last season, Louisville defeated Rutgers at home, 56-5. In that game, UofL quarterback Brian Brohm was 22-of-30 for 315 yards and accounted for four Cardinal touchdowns as he threw for three and ran for another. This season, the Cardinals are ranked among the NCAA's top 10 in several offensive categories including total offense (2nd, 492.6), passing offense (7th, 289.4), rushing offense (10th, 203.2) and scoring offense (4th, 39.4).

On the defensive side of the ball, Rutgers enters the game ranked among the NCAA's top five in several categories including scoring defense (2nd, 9.1), passing defense (2nd, 135.2) and total defense (2nd, 227.4). The Scarlet Knights also feature one of the nation's top running backs in sophomore Ray Rice. This season, Rice has rushed for 1,203 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is ranked third in the NCAA in rushing yards per game (150.38). The two teams are tied for first in the BIG EAST in sacks (30). Louisville averages 39.4 ppg, while Rutgers has yet to give up more than 20 points in a game this season.


PITTSBURGH At Connecticut
Sat 11/11
3:30 p.m.
ERT Local
Pittsburgh travels to Connecticut for the first time since 2004. The last time the Panthers played at Connecticut, the Huskies won, 29-17, at Rentschler Field. Saturday's contest will mark just the third time that the two teams have met.

In last season's meeting, Pittsburgh defeated Connecticut, 24-0, in its final home game of the 2005 season. In that contest, Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko accounted for two of the Panthers' scores as he threw for one touchdown and ran for another. This season, Palko has thrown for 1,989 yards and 19 touchdowns. The senior leads the BIG EAST in both categories. He also ranks third among NCAA quarterbacks in passing efficiency (170.80). The Panthers enter the game looking to rebound from their 22-12 loss at USF on Nov. 4.

Connecticut is coming off a bye week. In the Huskies' last game, UConn fell, 24-13, at Rutgers on Oct. 29. Despite the loss, freshman running back Donald Brown III rushed for a career-high 199 yards and two touchdowns. Brown's rushing total was the most by a UConn freshman since Cornell Brockington had 186 against Western Michigan on Nov. 1, 2003. Brown was the first rusher to go over 100 yards against Rutgers this season. Connecticut ranks 14th nationally in rushing offense (192.2), while Pittsburgh ranks 16th in the nation in scoring offense (31.7). The Panthers are also 13th nationally in scoring defense (15.0) and have forced 20 turnovers this year to place them t-17th in the nation. With a win, Pitt will have reached seven victories in six of the last seven seasons.


RUTGERS vs. Louisville
Thu 11/9
7:30 p.m.
ESPN
Louisville will face its second straight unbeaten conference opponent on national television (ESPN), as the Cardinals travel to Rutgers. The UofL enters the contest after defeating West Virginia, 44-34, in front of a record sellout crowd at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. The Cardinals' win over the Mountaineers marked the first time in program history that the UofL had defeated a top five opponent.

The Scarlet Knights are coming off a bye week and will look to improve to 9-0 for the first time since 1976. In the five previous meetings between the two teams, Rutgers holds a 4-1 series advantage. Last season, Louisville defeated Rutgers at home, 56-5. In that game, UofL quarterback Brian Brohm was 22-of-30 for 315 yards and accounted for four Cardinal touchdowns as he threw for three and ran for another. This season, the Cardinals are ranked among the NCAA's top 10 in several offensive categories including total offense (2nd, 492.6), passing offense (7th, 289.4), rushing offense (10th, 203.2) and scoring offense (4th, 39.4).

On the defensive side of the ball, Rutgers enters the game ranked among the NCAA's top five in several categories including scoring defense (2nd, 9.1), passing defense (2nd, 135.2) and total defense (2nd, 227.4). The Scarlet Knights also feature one of the nation's top running backs in sophomore Ray Rice. This season, Rice has rushed for 1,203 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is ranked third in the NCAA in rushing yards per game (150.38). The two teams are tied for first in the BIG EAST in sacks (30). Louisville averages 39.4 ppg, while Rutgers has yet to give up more than 20 points in a game this season.


SOUTH FLORIDA vs. Syracuse
Sat 11/11
Noon
ERT
Syracuse and USF will meet for just the second time on Saturday. In last season's meeting, the Bulls handed the Orange its worst loss of the season, 27-0, at the Carrier Dome. In that game, the USF defense held Syracuse to 182 yards of total offense and limited quarterback Perry Patterson to just 47 yards through the air.

SU enters this week's game against USF following a bye week and will look to put a stop to its four-game losing streak. The Bulls enter the game after defeating Pittsburgh, 22-12, on Nov. 4, to become bowl eligible for the second-straight season. USF owns a 5-1 record at home this season. The only loss USF suffered at Raymond James Stadium this year came against undefeated Rutgers, 22-20, on Sept. 29.

This season, the Bulls have seen the emergence of freshman quarterback Matt Grothe, who has totaled 2,148 yards and leads all NCAA freshmen in total yards. Grothe enters the game with 1,620 yards passing and 10 touchdowns, and needs just six more yards through the air to break the USF freshman single season passing record. Marquel Blackwell threw for 1,620 yards as a freshman in 1999. Grothe also has 533 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground.

Syracuse leads the BIG EAST in turnover margin (+11, 1.22 per game). In their three wins, the Orange have only turned the ball over four times. In its six losses, Syracuse has a combined 13 turnovers. SU defensive end Jameel McClain leads the league in sacks (8.5). Last year, Syracuse quarterback Perry Patterson passed for 1,504 yards and six touchdowns. This season, he has already thrown for 1,499 yards and 10 scores. Last year, SU averaged 13.8 ppg. This year, the Orange are averaging 19.1 ppg.


SYRACUSE At South Florida
Sat 11/11
Noon
ERT
Syracuse and USF will meet for just the second time on Saturday. In last season's meeting, the Bulls handed the Orange its worst loss of the season, 27-0, at the Carrier Dome. In that game, the USF defense held Syracuse to 182 yards of total offense and limited quarterback Perry Patterson to just 47 yards through the air.

SU enters this week's game against USF following a bye week and will look to put a stop to its four-game losing streak. The Bulls enter the game after defeating Pittsburgh, 22-12, on Nov. 4, to become bowl eligible for the second-straight season. USF owns a 5-1 record at home this season. The only loss USF suffered at Raymond James Stadium this year came against undefeated Rutgers, 22-20, on Sept. 29.

This season, the Bulls have seen the emergence of freshman quarterback Matt Grothe, who has totaled 2,148 yards and leads all NCAA freshmen in total yards. Grothe enters the game with 1,620 yards passing and 10 touchdowns, and needs just six more yards through the air to break the USF freshman single season passing record. Marquel Blackwell threw for 1,620 yards as a freshman in 1999. Grothe also has 533 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground.

Syracuse leads the BIG EAST in turnover margin (+11, 1.22 per game). In their three wins, the Orange have only turned the ball over four times. In its six losses, Syracuse has a combined 13 turnovers. SU defensive end Jameel McClain leads the league in sacks (8.5). Last year, Syracuse quarterback Perry Patterson passed for 1,504 yards and six touchdowns. This season, he has already thrown for 1,499 yards and 10 scores. Last year, SU averaged 13.8 ppg. This year, the Orange are averaging 19.1 ppg.


WEST VIRGINIA vs. Cincinnati
Sat 11/11
Noon
ESPN2
Cincinnati and West Virginia will face each other for the 15th time on Saturday. WVU has won 12 of the 14 meetings, and holds a 6-1-1 mark versus UC in eight home games. The Bearcats' only win in the series was a 15-13 decision in Morgantown in 2003.

In last season's meeting, the Mountaineers won at Cincinnati, 38-0. In that game, West Virginia running back Steve Slaton rushed for 129 yards on 25 carries and scored four touchdowns. Last year's contest also saw quarterback Patrick White total 211 yards of offense (111 rushing/100 passing).

The Mountaineers enter the game after falling, 44-34, on the road to Louisville. The loss to the Cardinals on Nov. 2 snapped the Mountaineers' school-record 14-game winning streak. Despite West Virginia's loss to Louisville, the Mountaineers rolled up 540 yards of total offense. This season, WVU ranks among top 10 in several NCAA categories including rushing offense (2nd, 318.9), total offense (3rd, 469.4) and scoring offense (3rd, 40.0). In addition, Slaton is ranked second in the NCAA in rushing yards per game (151.88).

The Bearcats enter Saturday's contest coming off a bye week and will be in search of their third straight win. With one more victory, UC will be bowl-eligible for the first time since 2004 when the Bearcats defeated Marshall, 32-14, in the Fort Worth Bowl. The last time Cincinnati won three straight games was in 2004. The Mountaineers will be the Bearcats' fourth ranked opponent this season. In the BIG EAST, West Virginia is ranked first in rushing offense (318.9), while Cincinnati is tops in rushing defense (89.3).


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