Big East Preview: Week Three

Tougher competition awaits some league teams in week three of football action in the Big East conference

CINCINNATI at Miami (OH)
Sat 9/15
Noon
ERT Local
Cincinnati and Miami meet for the 112th time Saturday in a series that dates to 1888 … The Bearcats took last year's meeting 24-10 in Cincinnati, extending a streak of four straight wins by the home team … Cincinnati hasn't won in Oxford since the 1999 season … The Bearcat defense proved to be the difference in 2006 as Cincinnati forced three turnovers, leading to 14 points in a 24-10 decision at Nippert Stadium … Greg Moore ran for 119 yards and a TD on 20 carries for Cincinnati.

Cincinnati has outscored its two opponents by a combined score of 93-6 following the 34-3 win against Oregon State last Thursday … The Bearcats rank second nationally in scoring defense (3.0 points allowed per game), trailing only Iowa, which has allowed three points through two games … The defense has also pushed Cincinnati to the top of the national leaderboard in turnover margin, with the Bearcats netting an average of 4.5 takeaways per game … Cincinnati has registered eight defensive interceptions — twice as many as any other BIG EAST team … Freshman K Jake Rogers was named BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Week after making a pair of field goals, including a 55-yarder, in the win against Oregon State, just one week after he missed a pair of PATs in the season opening win against Southeast Missouri State … The game at Miami begins a stretch of three road games in four weeks for the Bearcats, who follow nest week's home game against Marshall with road dates at San Diego State and Rutgers.

The RedHawks enter Saturday's game at 1-1 following a 41-35 overtime loss to Minnesota last week … Both of Miami's games have been closely contested affairs with the RedHawks taking a 14-13 win against Ball State in the season opener … The game against Cincinnati will be the first home date for Miami … The RedHawks went 2-10 last year, putting an end to a streak of 12 straight winning seasons … It was the first time in four years that Miami did not win either a division title or an outright title in the MAC … Senior RB Brandon Murphy has averaged 100.5 rushing yards through two games … Freshman WR Eugene Harris has averaged 27.5 yards on punt returns, good for fifth nationally … Past Miami coaches include Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Bill Arnsparger and Randy Walker.


CONNECTICUT vs. Temple
Sat 9/15
Noon
ERT Local
Saturday's game will be the 10th meeting between Connecticut and Temple since 1963 with the Owls holding a 7-2 series lead … The schools haven't met since Oct. 23, 2004, when Connecticut took a 45-31 win at Rentschler Field … That season was Connecticut's first as a member of the BIG EAST and Temple's last season in the league.

The Huskies have used a tough defense and timely offense to register comfortable wins in their first two games of 2007 … Connecticut was a 45-14 winner at Duke in the opener before the Huskies dealt a 38-0 shutout to Maine last week at Rentschler Field … Connecticut has played six consecutive shutout quarters, and the Huskies rank eighth nationally in scoring defense (7.0 points per game) … UConn is fifth in the nation in total defense, having yielded just 160.5 yards per game … Opponents have managed just 39.5 rushing yards per game against the Huskies … The defensive effort has been paced by senior LB Danny Lansanah, who had 10 tackles in the win at Duke before registering seven against Maine … Lansanah has a combined 4.5 tackles for loss through two games and ranks eighth nationally in that category … Junior QB Tyler Lorenzen has sparked the offense with four touchdown passes and 484 yards on the year … Lorenzen has completed 39 of 56 passes and has rushed for 98 yards and a score … Sophomore RB Donald Brown has averaged 93.0 rushing yards per game.

Temple is 0-2 thus far following losses to Navy (30-19) and Buffalo (42-7) to open the 2007 season … The Owls are in their first year as a member of the Mid-American Conference after playing the last two seasons as an independent ... Temple competed as a member of the BIG EAST from 1991-2004 … The Owls went 1-11 last season against a schedule that was rated the third-toughest in the nation and with a team that featured 22 freshmen in regular roles … Saturday's game at Connecticut will be the first road game of 2007 for Temple … The Owls have allowed just 134.0 passing yards per game, good for 17th nationally, but opponents have gained an average of 292.5 rushing yards against Temple … Temple has averaged just 19.0 rushing yards in its first two games … Temple offensive coordinator George DeLeone is a 1990 graduate of Connecticut.


LOUISVILLE At Kentucky
Sat 9/15
7:30 PM
ESPNC
Saturday's game is the 20th meeting between in-state rivals Louisville and Kentucky with the Wildcats holding a 10-9 series lead … Louisville has won four straight and seven of the last eight against Kentucky … The Cardinals have won the last four meetings in Louisville, having not lost to Kentucky at home since 1997 … Last year's meeting saw Louisville reel off 31 straight points to open the game in a 59-28 victory at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

Louisville has scored points at a breakneck pace to start the 2007 season as the Cardinals enter Week 3 as the national leader in scoring (65.5 points per game) and total offense (692.0 yards per game) … Louisville has scored on its first play from scrimmage in both games this season … The Cardinals gained 729 yards of offense in last Thursday's 58-42 win against Middle Tennessee State, marking the best offensive performance since the Cardinals had 779 yards against Houston in 2003 … Louisville scored on 10 of its 13 drives against Middle Tennessee State just one week after the Cardinals scored on nine of their 10 offensive possessions against Murray State … Louisville's 131 points through two games are a school record for points in the Cardinals' first two dates … Louisville has won 20 straight home games, trailing only Southern California (34) for the nation's longest home win streak … Senior QB Brian Brohm has completed 41 of 60 passes for 776 yards and nine touchdowns … Louisville is one of three teams that has not allowed a sack (along with Rutgers and Nebraska) … The Cardinals have punted once in two games.

The Wildcats have cruised to wins against Eastern Kentucky (50-10) and Kent State (56-20) to open the season as they head into their third straight home game … Kentucky capped an 8-5 season in 2006 with a win against Clemson in the Music City Bowl … Like Louisville, Kentucky's success has hinged on a high-powered offense — the Wildcats average 526.0 yards and 53.0 points per game, good for eighth and seventh, respectively, in the nation … Senior QB Andre Woodson (All-SEC Second Team in 2006) has completed 35 of 51 passes for 468 yards and five touchdowns … He joins Louisville QB Brian Brohm on the list of candidates for the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's top quarterback … Senior RB Rafael Little averages 118.5 yards per game.


PITTSBURGH at Michigan State
Sat 9/15
Noon
ESPN
Pittsburgh and Michigan State meet for the seventh time Saturday with the Panthers looking for their first win against the Spartans … Michigan State is 5-0-1 all-time against Pitt, including last year's 38-23 Spartan victory at Heinz Field … Last year's meeting featured a 335-yard rushing effort from the Spartans, who put two players in triple figures in RB Javon Ringer and QB Drew Stanton … Pittsburgh held a 10-0 lead after the first quarter, and the score was tied 10-10 at halftime before Michigan State took over in the second half.

Pittsburgh has opened its 2007 season with home wins against Eastern Michigan (27-3) and Grambling State (34-10) and takes to the road for the first time to face Michigan State … The Panthers have allowed just 13 points through two games, putting them seventh nationally in scoring defense (6.5 points allowed per game) … Pitt also ranks seventh in the nation, and first in the BIG EAST, in pass efficiency defense (75.66) … Freshman RB LeSean McCoy enters Saturday's game on the heels of a three-touchdown effort against Grambling State … McCoy had three TDs on his first four carries to spark the Panthers, and he finished the game with 107 yards on 19 carries … Redshirt freshman QB Kevan Smith became the third different player to start behind center for Pitt in the last three games … Smith completed 15 of 22 passes for 202 yards and one TD in the win against Grambling State.

The Spartans are halfway to their win total of a year ago as Michigan State started the 2007 season with victories against Alabama-Birmingham (55-18) and Bowling Green (28-17) … The game against Pittsburgh will be the third straight home game for the Spartans, who take to the road for the first time next week at Notre Dame … Michigan State is coached by Mark Dantonio, who spent three years as head coach at Cincinnati before joining the Spartans for this season … Michigan State has allowed just 29.5 rushing yards per game through its first two wins … The Spartans rank third nationally in sacks (6.0 per game), fourth in tackles for loss (11.0 per game) and fifth in rushing defense (29.5 yards allowed per game) … Junior QB Brian Hoyer has taken over as the starter for current Detroit Lion QB Drew Stanton … Hoyer has completed 31 of 46 passes for 451 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions … Senior DE Jonal Saint-Dic had three sacks in the win against Bowling Green.


RUTGERS vs. Norfolk State
Sat 9/15
3:30 p.m.
ERT Local
Rutgers and Norfolk State meet for the first time Saturday … It is Rutgers' third straight home game and part of a series of five straight at home to start the year … Rutgers has won nine straight at home with an average score of 36.2-10.5 during that stretch.

Rutgers' current nine-game home winning streak is the second-longest active streak in the nation … The Scarlet Knights have taken comfortable wins against Buffalo (38-3) and Navy (41-24) to open the season … Junior RB Ray Rice enters Saturday's game as Rutgers' career rushing leader as he broke the school record in the win against Navy … Rice has rushed for 3,273 yards, trailing only Michigan's Mike Hart (3,994) among active Bowl Subdivision players … Rice leads the BIG EAST and is ranked third nationally in rushing this season with 179.5 yards per game … Junior WR Tiquan Underwood is ranked second nationally in receiving yards (176.0 yards per game), while junior QB Mike Teel is fourth in pass efficiency (224.75) … Rutgers is one of three schools that has not allowed a sack this season (along with Louisville and Nebraska) … Junior LB Kevin Malast has averaged 11.5 tackles through two games, good for first in the BIG EAST … Rutgers' win against Navy was played in front of a crowd of 43,514 at Rutgers Stadium — the third-largest crowd in that facility's history.

Norfolk State enjoyed a bye week as the Spartans enter Saturday's game against Rutgers having not played since a Sept. 1 win against Virginia State (33-7) … The Spartans went 4-7 last season, winning three of their first four games, but dropping six of the last seven … With a win against Winston-Salem in the 2006 finale and the season-opening win against Virginia State, the Spartans enter the Rutgers game riding a modest two-game winning streak … Norfolk State competes in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference of the Championship Subdivision … The Spartans had a 493-154 advantage in total yards in the win against Virginia State … Norfolk State held Virginia State to just 3-for-16 efficiency on third down … Senior RB Daryl Jones rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries in the season-opener … Senior QB Casey Hansen completed 22 of 42 passes for 245 yards … Senior LB Maguell Davis had 10 tackles, a sack and an interception … Twin brother LB Marquez Davis had eight tackles.


SOUTH FLORIDA Open Date
Next Game
Sat 9/23
vs. North Carolina
The Bulls have an open date after their win over Auburn. They host North Caorlina next week.

SYRACUSE vs. Illinois
Sat 9/15
Noon
ESPNU
Syracuse and Illinois have met 11 times on the gridiron with the Fighting Illini entering Saturday's game with a 9-2 series lead … Syracuse was a 31-21 winner in the 2006 meeting in game that saw the Orange score on two fumble recoveries … WR Taj Smith picked up an offensive fumble and raced for a 41-yard score, and LB Jerry Mackey scored a defensive touchdown with a 15-yard fumble recovery in the third quarter …Syracuse is looking for its first home win in the series with Illinois … The Illini are 3-0 in Syracuse.

Syracuse is the only BIG EAST school that has faced two BCS Conference teams in its first two weeks … The Orange's first four opponents (Washington, Iowa, Illinois, Louisville) are all from BCS leagues … Freshman WR Max Suter has been a standout on special teams as he has averaged 27.4 yards per return … Collectively, the Orange lead the BIG EAST in kickoff return average (24.7 yards per return) … Syracuse has averaged just 115 yards of offense though two games … The Orange's conference opener against Louisville next week has been tabbed as the BIG EAST Game of the Week … Syracuse will retire the jersey of former Orange and NFL great John Mackey at halftime of the game against Illinois … The Orange is on the road for its next two games (Louisville, Miami (Ohio)) before returning to the Carrier Dome to face West Virginia Oct. 6 … Senior S Joe Fields was a bright spot in last week's loss to Iowa as he had 10 tackles, an interception and a pass breakup.

Illinois evened its record at 1-1 following a 21-0 win against Western Illinois in Champaign, Ill. … The Illini began the season with a 40-34 setback at Missouri … Illinois begins a stretch of back-to-back road games against Syracuse — the Illini face Indiana in its Big Ten opener next week in Bloomington … Illinois boasts a balanced offense that has averaged 198 rushing yards and 219.5 passing yards through two games … Overall, the Illini rank 46th nationally in total offense and 34th in total defense … Senior LB J Leman has been spectacular on defense with 20 tackles in the opener against Missouri and 11 last week against Western Illinois …Leman ranks third nationally and first in the Big Ten with 15.5 tackles per game and has exactly 250 stops in his career … Sophomore QB Eddie McGee has completed 17 of 32 passes for 257 yards and a touchdown, while Isiah Williams has connected on 18 of 33 for 182 yards.


WEST VIRGINIA at Maryland
Thu 9/13
7:30 p.m.
ESPN
Thursday's game will be the 46th meeting in what has been a tightly contested series between West Virginia and Maryland … The Mountaineers hold a 22-21-2 series lead and have won three straight against the Terrapins … Last year's matchup saw the then-No. 5 Mountaineers race to a 28-0 first-quarter lead on its way to a 45-24 win in Morgantown, W.Va. … West Virginia was paced by 195 yards and two touchdowns by RB Steve Slaton and a 96-yard kickoff return for a score by WR Darius Reynaud.

West Virginia comes into Thursday's game at 2-0 following a 48-23 win at Marshall last Saturday … Despite the win, the Mountaineers dropped one spot in this week's Associated Press top 25 poll, falling to No. 4 … West Virginia is ranked second nationally in rushing offense (339.0 yards per game) and fourth in scoring offense (55.0 points per game) … The Mountaineers are led by junior RB Steve Slaton, who enters Saturday's game as the Division I leader in scoring (18.0 points per game) following his two-touchdown effort against Marshall … Slaton is 18th nationally and third in the BIG EAST in rushing with an average of 127.5 yards per game (40 carries, 255 yards) … Junior QB Patrick White is among the league and national leaders in total offense as he has averaged 281.5 yards through two games … White has rushed for 222 yards and three TDs and has completed 23 of 36 passes for 341 yards and four scores … The Mountaineers have gone 10-for-10 in the red zone with 10 touchdowns … Junior LB Reed Williams is tied for the BIG EAST lead with an average of 11.5 tackles per game.

The Terrapins are off to a 2-0 start following wins against Villanova (31-14) and Florida International (26-10) to start the season … Maryland has won three straight following the Terps' 24-7 win against Purdue in last year's Champs Sports Bowl … West Virginia is one of two BIG EAST opponents on the Maryland schedule this season as the Terrapins also face Rutgers Sept. 29 … Maryland has been paced offensively by RB Keon Lattimore, who has averaged 108.5 yards per game and is ranked sixth nationally in scoring (15.0 ppg) … Senior DT Dre Moore, at 6-4, 311 pounds, is the top man on defense with two sacks on the year … Junior CB Kevin Barnes has registered an interception in each of the first two games.


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