Big East Football Preview

A look at the Big East football conference, including notes of interest and this week's game action.

Three BIG EAST Teams In The BCS Top 10

With only three weekends left in the regular season, the BIG EAST has three teams in the top 10 of the BCS Standings. Rutgers jumped to No. 6 after its 28-25 win over Louisville, which was ranked third last week. West Virginia moved up to No. 8 and Louisville held on at No. 10.

Rutgers and Louisville Provided Another Thursday Classic

Last Thursday, the BIG EAST supplied ESPN and the college football world with another high-level, heart-thumping contest. Rutgers and Louisville met before the largest crowd in Rutgers Stadium history. The Scarlet Knights rallied from a 25-7 deficit to win, 28-25, on a field goal with 13 seconds left in the game. ESPN declared the game an Instant Classic and replayed the game on Friday night on ESPN Classic.

The Nation Was Watching The BIG EAST Again

Two Thursdays ago, the West Virginia-Louisville game was the second most-viewed regular season college football game in the history of ESPN. The Rutgers-Louisville contest was ESPN's fourth most-viewed regular season game ever, reaching over 4.6 million households and drawing a 5.03 rating. On Oct. 20, West Virginia and Connecticut delivered ESPN's most-viewed Friday night game ever.

Still Another Thursday Showcase On ESPN

ESPN presents its third straight BIG EAST Thursday night contest this week when West Virginia travels to Pittsburgh. It will be the 99th edition of the rivalry known as The Backyard Brawl. The Panthers lead the all-time series, 59-36-3, but the Mountaineers hold the edge in BIG EAST meetings, 10-5. Recent history says you can figure on plenty of offensive fireworks. Since the BIG EAST began in 1991, the winning team in this matchup has averaged 38.1 points.

Cincinnati, Connecticut Aiming For The Postseason

Cincinnati and Connecticut still have bowl-eligible status within reach. Cincinnati hosts undefeated Rutgers in ESPN's primetime game on Saturday night at 7:45 p.m. ET. The Bearcats (5-5) need one more win to become bowl-eligible. Connecticut (4-5) is also alive for the postseason. This week, the Huskies play at Syracuse in the ESPN Regional/BIG EAST Game of the Week at noon. Also, USF and Louisville will try to strengthen their postseason resumes when they meet in Louisville on ESPNU at 7:30 p.m.


CINCINNATI vs. Rutgers
Sat 11/18
7:45 p.m.
ESPN
Rutgers will look to keep its perfect record intact and improve to 10-0 for the first time since 1976 when it travels to Cincinnati. The Scarlet Knights are 4-0 on the road in 2006 and 7-2 since the beginning of the 2005 season.

In last year's meeting, Rutgers defeated Cincinnati, 44-9, in Piscataway. In that game, RU running back Ray Rice scored two touchdowns and rushed for 195 yards on 24 carries.

The Scarlet Knights enter the game after defeating Louisville, 28-25, on Thursday, Nov. 9 in front of a record 44,111 fans at Rutgers Stadium and an ESPN national television audience (4,642,069 households). It ranked as the network's fourth most-viewed regular season college football game ever. Against Louisville, the Scarlet Knights totaled 332 yards of offense, with 131 of those coming from Rice. It was the seventh time this season he has surpassed 100-yard mark. In addition, Rice found the end zone on two different occasions. This season, Rice has scored 15 touchdowns, giving him 20 for his career. He ranks third in the nation among all running backs in rushing yards per game (148.22).

The Bearcats enter their final home game in hopes of posting their sixth win of the 2006 season to become bowl eligible. The last time Cincinnati went to a bowl game was in 2004. In that season, the Bearcats defeated Marshall, 32-14, in the Fort Worth Bowl. In home games this season, Cincinnati has a record of 5-1.

Rutgers holds the all-time series advantage over Cincinnati with a 7-3-1 mark. The Scarlet Knights rank second nationally in pass defense (138.3), fourth in scoring defense (10.9) and total defense (231.7) and 10th in rush defense (93.3).


CONNECTICUT At Syracuse
Sat 11/18
Noon
ERT
Connecticut will look to improve upon its 1-2 record in road games this season as it travels to Syracuse. The Huskies will face the Orange for just the second time in the Carrier Dome. SU won the first home meeting, 42-30, in 2004.

UConn enters this year's contest in hopes of building off of its thrilling doubleovertime victory over Pittsburgh, 46-45, on Nov. 11. Syracuse is attempting to rebound from its 27-10 loss to USF on Nov. 11. The Huskies' win over Pittsburgh marked their first conference win of the 2006 season. In the game, quarterback D.J. Hernandez went 20-of-29 for 164 yards and four touchdowns. The UConn sophomore also had 17 rushes for 139 yards.

Against USF, Syracuse dropped its fifth straight decision to a conference opponent this season. Quarterback Perry Patterson was sacked seven times, but still managed to complete 15-of-29 passes for 164 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. In home games this season, the Orange have a mark of 2-3. Syracuse and UConn have split the two previous meetings between the schools.

In last season's meeting, UConn defeated Syracuse, 26-7, at Rentschler Field. In that game, UConn rolled up 342 yards of total offense. Running back Terry Caulley rushed for two touchdowns and totaled 86 yards on the ground. Connecticut remains undefeated in the month of November as a Division I-A team.

The Huskies are ninth nationally in rushing (206.1) and rank sixth in the nation in pass defense (151.0). Syracuse has been among the national leaders in sacks all season long. The Orange are currently tied for 15th in the nation (2.9 per game), led by BIG EAST sack leader – defensive end Jameel McClain (8.5).


LOUISVILLE vs. South Florida
Sat 11/18
7:30 p.m.
ESPNU
USF and Louisville will be meeting for the fourth time. The Bulls lead the series, 2-1. The Cardinals won the only previous meeting at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, 41-9, in 2004.

In last season's contest, USF defeated No. 9/8 Louisville, 45-14, in Tampa, Fla. Bulls' wideout Amarri Jackson threw a touchdown pass and scored twice more on touchdown runs of 51 and 12 yards. Jackson totaled 75 receiving yards, 63 rushing yards and 11 passing yards.

Louisville registered 493 yards of total offense in the loss. Cardinal quarterback Brian Brohm completed 29-of-47 passes for 389 yards and wide receiver Mario Urrutia caught five pass for 123 yards.

The UofL returns home on Saturday looking to rebound from its first loss of the 2006 season – a 28-25 defeat at Rutgers on Thursday, Nov. 9. Brohm was 13-of-27 for 163 yards, one touchdown and one interception. UofL's JaJuan Spillman returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. He set a school record with 192 kickoff return yards in the game.

Last time out for USF, the Bulls defeated Syracuse, 24-10, on Nov. 11 in Tampa. Freshman quarterback Matt Grothe recorded a BIG EAST season-high 409 yards of total offense. He completed 25-of-35 for a school record 364 passing yards and two touchdowns. Grothe is the nation's freshman leader in total offense (255.7 ypg). He ranks 11th overall in total offense among NCAA leaders.

Brohm is 15th nationally in total offense (250.6). Cardinal kicker Art Carmody is seventh inthe nation in field goals per game (1.67). Bulls' defensive back Trae Williams is seventh nationally in interceptions per game (0.6). USF is 2-2 on the road this season, while Louisville owns a 4-0 home mark.


PITTSBURGH vs. West Virginia
Thu 11/16
7:30 p.m.
ESPN
Thursday's game will be the 99th meeting in a series known as "The Backyard Brawl". Pittsburgh leads the overall series versus West Virginia, 59-36-3.

The Mountaineers won last year's meeting, 45-13, on Nov. 24 in Morgantown. WVU led 24-13 after three quarters, but tacked on three fourth-quarter touchdowns to put the game away. West Virginia quarterback Patrick White rushed for 220 yards and a touchdown, in addition to passing for 41 yards and a score. WVU running back Steve Slaton ran for 179 yards and two touchdowns and also caught a touchdown pass. Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko completed 24-of-43 passes for 308 yards and two scores, but was intercepted twice. The Panthers own a 39-20 record against the Mountaineers in games played in Pittsburgh, but WVU has taken five of the last seven road games in the series.

Last time out for West Virginia, the Mountaineers defeated Cincinnati, 42-24, in Morgantown on Nov. 11. Slaton carried the ball 12 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns, while White ran for two touchdowns and threw for another.

Last week, Pittsburgh fell in double overtime at Connecticut, 46-45, on Nov. 11. Palko completed 20-of-25 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns and also added a rushing touchdown. Running back LaRod Stephens-Howling posted 154 yards rushing and two scores.

West Virginia ranks among the NCAA leaders in a number of categories: rushing offense (2nd, 318.2), scoring offense (2nd, 40.2), total offense (3rd, 462.9) and rushing defense (10th, 88.4). Slaton is second in the nation in rushing (151.4) and all-purpose yards (169.8). White is tied for third nationally in scoring (10.0). Pittsburgh is 15th nationally in scoring offense (33.0). Panther linebacker H.B. Blades is third in the nation in tackles (12.6).


RUTGERS at Cincinnati
Sat 11/18
7:45 p.m.
ESPN
Rutgers will look to keep its perfect record intact and improve to 10-0 for the first time since 1976 when it travels to Cincinnati. The Scarlet Knights are 4-0 on the road in 2006 and 7-2 since the beginning of the 2005 season.

In last year's meeting, Rutgers defeated Cincinnati, 44-9, in Piscataway. In that game, RU running back Ray Rice scored two touchdowns and rushed for 195 yards on 24 carries.

The Scarlet Knights enter the game after defeating Louisville, 28-25, on Thursday, Nov. 9 in front of a record 44,111 fans at Rutgers Stadium and an ESPN national television audience (4,642,069 households). It ranked as the network's fourth most-viewed regular season college football game ever. Against Louisville, the Scarlet Knights totaled 332 yards of offense, with 131 of those coming from Rice. It was the seventh time this season he has surpassed 100-yard mark. In addition, Rice found the end zone on two different occasions. This season, Rice has scored 15 touchdowns, giving him 20 for his career. He ranks third in the nation among all running backs in rushing yards per game (148.22).

The Bearcats enter their final home game in hopes of posting their sixth win of the 2006 season to become bowl eligible. The last time Cincinnati went to a bowl game was in 2004. In that season, the Bearcats defeated Marshall, 32-14, in the Fort Worth Bowl. In home games this season, Cincinnati has a record of 5-1.

Rutgers holds the all-time series advantage over Cincinnati with a 7-3-1 mark. The Scarlet Knights rank second nationally in pass defense (138.3), fourth in scoring defense (10.9) and total defense (231.7) and 10th in rush defense (93.3).


SOUTH FLORIDA At Louisville
Sat 11/18
7:30 p.m.
ESPNU
USF and Louisville will be meeting for the fourth time. The Bulls lead the series, 2-1. The Cardinals won the only previous meeting at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, 41-9, in 2004.

In last season's contest, USF defeated No. 9/8 Louisville, 45-14, in Tampa, Fla. Bulls' wideout Amarri Jackson threw a touchdown pass and scored twice more on touchdown runs of 51 and 12 yards. Jackson totaled 75 receiving yards, 63 rushing yards and 11 passing yards.

Louisville registered 493 yards of total offense in the loss. Cardinal quarterback Brian Brohm completed 29-of-47 passes for 389 yards and wide receiver Mario Urrutia caught five pass for 123 yards.

The UofL returns home on Saturday looking to rebound from its first loss of the 2006 season – a 28-25 defeat at Rutgers on Thursday, Nov. 9. Brohm was 13-of-27 for 163 yards, one touchdown and one interception. UofL's JaJuan Spillman returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. He set a school record with 192 kickoff return yards in the game.

Last time out for USF, the Bulls defeated Syracuse, 24-10, on Nov. 11 in Tampa. Freshman quarterback Matt Grothe recorded a BIG EAST season-high 409 yards of total offense. He completed 25-of-35 for a school record 364 passing yards and two touchdowns. Grothe is the nation's freshman leader in total offense (255.7 ypg). He ranks 11th overall in total offense among NCAA leaders.

Brohm is 15th nationally in total offense (250.6). Cardinal kicker Art Carmody is seventh inthe nation in field goals per game (1.67). Bulls' defensive back Trae Williams is seventh nationally in interceptions per game (0.6). USF is 2-2 on the road this season, while Louisville owns a 4-0 home mark.


SYRACUSE vs. Connecticut
Sat 11/18
Noon
ERT
Connecticut will look to improve upon its 1-2 record in road games this season as it travels to Syracuse. The Huskies will face the Orange for just the second time in the Carrier Dome. SU won the first home meeting, 42-30, in 2004.

UConn enters this year's contest in hopes of building off of its thrilling doubleovertime victory over Pittsburgh, 46-45, on Nov. 11. Syracuse is attempting to rebound from its 27-10 loss to USF on Nov. 11. The Huskies' win over Pittsburgh marked their first conference win of the 2006 season. In the game, quarterback D.J. Hernandez went 20-of-29 for 164 yards and four touchdowns. The UConn sophomore also had 17 rushes for 139 yards.

Against USF, Syracuse dropped its fifth straight decision to a conference opponent this season. Quarterback Perry Patterson was sacked seven times, but still managed to complete 15-of-29 passes for 164 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. In home games this season, the Orange have a mark of 2-3. Syracuse and UConn have split the two previous meetings between the schools.

In last season's meeting, UConn defeated Syracuse, 26-7, at Rentschler Field. In that game, UConn rolled up 342 yards of total offense. Running back Terry Caulley rushed for two touchdowns and totaled 86 yards on the ground. Connecticut remains undefeated in the month of November as a Division I-A team.

The Huskies are ninth nationally in rushing (206.1) and rank sixth in the nation in pass defense (151.0). Syracuse has been among the national leaders in sacks all season long. The Orange are currently tied for 15th in the nation (2.9 per game), led by BIG EAST sack leader – defensive end Jameel McClain (8.5).


WEST VIRGINIA At Pitt
Thu 11/16
7:30 p.m.
ESPN
Thursday's game will be the 99th meeting in a series known as "The Backyard Brawl". Pittsburgh leads the overall series versus West Virginia, 59-36-3.

The Mountaineers won last year's meeting, 45-13, on Nov. 24 in Morgantown. WVU led 24-13 after three quarters, but tacked on three fourth-quarter touchdowns to put the game away. West Virginia quarterback Patrick White rushed for 220 yards and a touchdown, in addition to passing for 41 yards and a score. WVU running back Steve Slaton ran for 179 yards and two touchdowns and also caught a touchdown pass. Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko completed 24-of-43 passes for 308 yards and two scores, but was intercepted twice. The Panthers own a 39-20 record against the Mountaineers in games played in Pittsburgh, but WVU has taken five of the last seven road games in the series.

Last time out for West Virginia, the Mountaineers defeated Cincinnati, 42-24, in Morgantown on Nov. 11. Slaton carried the ball 12 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns, while White ran for two touchdowns and threw for another.

Last week, Pittsburgh fell in double overtime at Connecticut, 46-45, on Nov. 11. Palko completed 20-of-25 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns and also added a rushing touchdown. Running back LaRod Stephens-Howling posted 154 yards rushing and two scores.

West Virginia ranks among the NCAA leaders in a number of categories: rushing offense (2nd, 318.2), scoring offense (2nd, 40.2), total offense (3rd, 462.9) and rushing defense (10th, 88.4). Slaton is second in the nation in rushing (151.4) and all-purpose yards (169.8). White is tied for third nationally in scoring (10.0). Pittsburgh is 15th nationally in scoring offense (33.0). Panther linebacker H.B. Blades is third in the nation in tackles (12.6).


BlueGoldNews Top Stories