Big East Preview: Week Four

Four teams face on in early season conference tilts, two host C-USA teams and a seventh plays a team from the worst of the six BCS leagues in week four of Big East action.

CINCINNATI vs. Marshall
Sat 9/22
7:30 p.m.
ERT Local
Cincinnati and Marshall are meeting for the 11th time in a series that dates to 1906 … The Bearcats hold a 6-3-1 series lead following a 32-14 win in the 2004 Fort Worth Bowl … Marshall's last win against Cincinnati was a 25-14 decision in the 2000 Motor City Bowl … The schools have not met during the regular season since 1946.

Cincinnati continues to make a valid claim to be ranked in the top 25 as the Bearcats rolled past Miami (Ohio) 47-10 last Saturday in Oxford, Ohio … That win came on the heels of impressive victories against Southeast Missouri State (59-3) and Oregon State (34-3) … Cincinnati has won six straight games and eight of its last nine, dating to last season … Head coach Brian Kelly is 4-0 on the Bearcat sideline, becoming the first Cincinnati coach to win his first four games since 1935 … The Bearcats have outscored their first three opponents by a 140-16 margin … Fifth-year senior QB Ben Mauk completed 33 of 50 passes for 443 yards and four touchdowns through the first two games, but did not play against Miami (Ohio) while he rested an injured shoulder … Junior QB Dustin Grutza stepped in to complete 25 of 35 passes for a career-high 290 yards and two TDs … Junior WR Marshawn Gilyard has caught 11 passes for 158 yards and two TDs and has blocked a punt in each of the last two games.

Marshall fell to 0-3 to start the year after the Thundering Herd dropped a 48-35 decision to New Hampshire Saturday in Huntington, W.Va. … Marshall trailed 24-0 at halftime to the Wildcats, who were ranked No. 12 in the Championship Subdivision poll, but was unable to comeback against a New Hampshire squad that registered its third straight win against a Bowl Subdivision program … The game against Cincinnati will be Marshall's second against a BIG EAST school this season — the Thundering Herd fell to West Virginia 48-23 Sept. 8 in Huntington … The other loss was a 31-3 setback to Miami (Fla.) in the season-opener … Senior QB Bernard Morris ranks 25th nationally in total offense (291.7 yards per game) … Morris has completed 66 of 97 passes for 835 yards and five touchdowns without an interception.


CONNECTICUT At Pittsburgh
Sat 9/22
7:00 p.m.
ERT Local
Saturday's game is the fourth meeting between Connecticut and Pittsburgh with the Huskies holding a 2-1 series lead. … Each team has defended its home turf in the brief rivalry with Pittsburgh taking a 24-0 win in the 2005 matchup at Heinz Field … Last year's meeting ended with Connecticut on top 46-45 following two overtime periods.

After winning rather comfortably in its first two games (against Duke and Maine), Connecticut had to survive a last-minute scare against upset-minded Temple before the Huskies prevailed 22-17 … UConn stands at 3-0 for the first time since 1998 … The Huskies enter Saturday's game against Pittsburgh ranked eighth nationally, and second in the BIG EAST, in total defense (217.7 yards per game) … Connecticut is averaging 9.7 tackles for loss per game, good for sixth nationally … The offense is paced by junior QB Tyler Lorenzen, who has completed 58 of 85 passes for 706 yards and four touchdowns … Senior LB Danny Lansanah ranks third among Division I players with 2.2 tackles for loss per game to lead the defense … Junor DE Cody Smith ranks fifth in that category (2.0 per game) … Junior DE Julius Williams has ranked sixth nationally in sacks (1.2 per game) … Junior K Tony Ciaravino is tied for third in the nation with an average of 2.3 field goals per game.

The Panthers dropped their first game of 2007, falling to Michigan State 17-13 last Saturday in East Lansing, Mich. … Pittsburgh had opened the season with wins against Eastern Michigan (27-3) and Grambling State (34-10) … The Panthers, who have allowed a combined 30 points through three games, rank ninth nationally in scoring defense … Pitt also is seventh in the country in pass efficiency defense (84.10) and 12th in team sacks (3.3 per game) … The offense has been led by freshman RB LeSean McCoy, who has broken the 100-yard barrier in each of the last two games … McCoy ranks 20th in the nation in rushing (115.7) as he starts in place of the injured LaRod Stephens-Howling … Redshirt freshman QB Kevan Smith has started the last two games behind center in place of the injured Bill Stull … Smith has completed 26 of 44 passes for 305 yards and a touchdown … Junior LB Scott McKillop registered a game- and career-high 17 tackles for Pitt in the loss to Michigan State.


LOUISVILLE vs. Syracuse
Sat 9/22
Noon
ERT Local
Saturday's game will be the seventh meeting between Syracuse and Louisville and the third since the Cardinals joined the BIG EAST … The series is tied 3-3 … Since Louisville joined the BIG EAST, the Cardinals have taken both meetings against Syracuse, including a 28-13 win at the Carrier Dome last season … Syracuse's last win in the series was in 1992 … The schools met in 1989 in Tokyo, Japan, with Syracuse prevailing 24-13.

Syracuse fell to 0-3 with Saturday's 41-20 setback to Illinois at the Carrier Dome … Syracuse, which faced Washington and Iowa in Weeks 1 and 2, is the only BIG EAST school that has faced three BCS conference opponents in the first three weeks … Sophomore QB Andrew Robinson has been solid behind center, completing 44 of 78 passes for 486 yards and one touchdown and just one interception on the year … Sophomore DE Arthur Jones is ranked 13th nationally and fourth in the BIG EAST in tackles for loss (1.83 per game) … RB Curtis Brinkley has 94 yards on 36 carries this season and leads the Orange with 152 receiving yards on eight catches … WR Taj Smith has a team-high nine receptions for 88 yards … DB Joe Fields leads the Orange with 26 tackles to go with one interception … P Rob Long is averaging 44.0 yards per punt.

Louisville saw its six-game winning streak come to an end with the Cardinals' 40-34 setback to Kentucky Saturday night … Louisville remains one of the most prolific offensive teams in college football — the Cardinals lead the nation in total offense (617 yards per game) and rank third nationally in scoring (55.0 points per game) … Conversely, the Cardinals have allowed 42 and 40 points in their last two games … Louisville's two wins have been against Murray State (73-10) and Middle Tennessee State (58-42) … The Cardinals have won 20 straight home games, trailing only Southern California (34) for the longest home winning streak in the nation … Senior QB Brian Brohm is the nation's sixth-rated passer (193.43) and is fifth nationally in total offense (387.0 yards per game) … Sophomore RB Anthony Allen ranks sixth nationally in rushing (142.3 yards per game), while senior WR Harry Douglas is fourth in receiving yards (158.0 yards per game) and seventh in receptions (8.7 per game)


PITTSBURGH vs. Connecticut
Sat 9/22
7:00 p.m.
ERT Local
Saturday's game is the fourth meeting between Connecticut and Pittsburgh with the Huskies holding a 2-1 series lead. … Each team has defended its home turf in the brief rivalry with Pittsburgh taking a 24-0 win in the 2005 matchup at Heinz Field … Last year's meeting ended with Connecticut on top 46-45 following two overtime periods.

After winning rather comfortably in its first two games (against Duke and Maine), Connecticut had to survive a last-minute scare against upset-minded Temple before the Huskies prevailed 22-17 … UConn stands at 3-0 for the first time since 1998 … The Huskies enter Saturday's game against Pittsburgh ranked eighth nationally, and second in the BIG EAST, in total defense (217.7 yards per game) … Connecticut is averaging 9.7 tackles for loss per game, good for sixth nationally … The offense is paced by junior QB Tyler Lorenzen, who has completed 58 of 85 passes for 706 yards and four touchdowns … Senior LB Danny Lansanah ranks third among Division I players with 2.2 tackles for loss per game to lead the defense … Junor DE Cody Smith ranks fifth in that category (2.0 per game) … Junior DE Julius Williams has ranked sixth nationally in sacks (1.2 per game) … Junior K Tony Ciaravino is tied for third in the nation with an average of 2.3 field goals per game.

The Panthers dropped their first game of 2007, falling to Michigan State 17-13 last Saturday in East Lansing, Mich. … Pittsburgh had opened the season with wins against Eastern Michigan (27-3) and Grambling State (34-10) … The Panthers, who have allowed a combined 30 points through three games, rank ninth nationally in scoring defense … Pitt also is seventh in the country in pass efficiency defense (84.10) and 12th in team sacks (3.3 per game) … The offense has been led by freshman RB LeSean McCoy, who has broken the 100-yard barrier in each of the last two games … McCoy ranks 20th in the nation in rushing (115.7) as he starts in place of the injured LaRod Stephens-Howling … Redshirt freshman QB Kevan Smith has started the last two games behind center in place of the injured Bill Stull … Smith has completed 26 of 44 passes for 305 yards and a touchdown … Junior LB Scott McKillop registered a game- and career-high 17 tackles for Pitt in the loss to Michigan State.


RUTGERS Open Date
Next Week vs. Maryland

Rutgers has the week off after opening the season 3-0. The Scarlet Knights host Maryland next week.

SOUTH FLORIDA vs. North Carolina
Sat 9/22
Noon
ESPN
Saturday's game is just the second meeting between USF and North Carolina in a series that began last season … The Bulls were 37-20 winners against the Tar Heels last season behind a 101-yard, two-touchdown effort by RB Ricky Ponton … The game will mark the third consecutive season in which USF faces an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.

USF registered what many considered to be a program-defining win two weeks ago as the Bulls knocked off then No. 17/13 Auburn on the road, prevailing 26-23 in overtime … USF is coming off a bye week … The Bulls' calling card has been a stout defense, anchored by a strong line and punctuated by explosive players in the secondary … The Bulls rank second in the nation in tackles for loss (11.0 per game) and eighth in sacks (4.0 per game) … USF leads the BIG EAST and is 18th nationally in rushing defense (79.0 yards per game) … Sophomore DE George Selvie has been the top man on defense as he leads the nation with 2.8 sacks per game (5.5 total) and 4.8 tackles for loss per game … Sophomore QB Matt Grothe has connected on 41 of 66 passes for 422 yards and three touchdowns … Freshman RB Mike Ford has averaged 78.5 yards on the ground and has three rushing touchdowns through two games.

North Carolina looks to snap a two-game losing streak as the Tar Heels enter Saturday's game at USF on the heels of setbacks to East Carolina (34-31) and Virginia (22-20) … The win came in the season-opener against James Madison (37-14) … The Tar Heels are coached by Butch Davis, who most recently had been head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 2001-04 … Davis spent six years as head coach at Miami (Fla.), going 50-19 from 1995-2000 … The Tar Heels are led by freshman QB T.J. Yates, who enters Saturday's game ranked ninth nationally in pass efficiency (178.85) … Yates has completed 58 of 88 passes for 901 yards and nine touchdowns against three interceptions … North Carolina has averaged just 79.7 rushing yards per game, but has thrown for an average of 383 yards per game … Senior LB Durell Mapp is averaging 13 tackles through three games after making 12 stops against Virginia and 18 against East Carolina … Junior WR Brandon Tate has caught seven passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns … He had 102 yards on three catches against East Carolina.


SYRACUSE At Louisville
Sat 9/22
Noon
ERT Local
Saturday's game will be the seventh meeting between Syracuse and Louisville and the third since the Cardinals joined the BIG EAST … The series is tied 3-3 … Since Louisville joined the BIG EAST, the Cardinals have taken both meetings against Syracuse, including a 28-13 win at the Carrier Dome last season … Syracuse's last win in the series was in 1992 … The schools met in 1989 in Tokyo, Japan, with Syracuse prevailing 24-13.

Syracuse fell to 0-3 with Saturday's 41-20 setback to Illinois at the Carrier Dome … Syracuse, which faced Washington and Iowa in Weeks 1 and 2, is the only BIG EAST school that has faced three BCS conference opponents in the first three weeks … Sophomore QB Andrew Robinson has been solid behind center, completing 44 of 78 passes for 486 yards and one touchdown and just one interception on the year … Sophomore DE Arthur Jones is ranked 13th nationally and fourth in the BIG EAST in tackles for loss (1.83 per game) … RB Curtis Brinkley has 94 yards on 36 carries this season and leads the Orange with 152 receiving yards on eight catches … WR Taj Smith has a team-high nine receptions for 88 yards … DB Joe Fields leads the Orange with 26 tackles to go with one interception … P Rob Long is averaging 44.0 yards per punt.

Louisville saw its six-game winning streak come to an end with the Cardinals' 40-34 setback to Kentucky Saturday night … Louisville remains one of the most prolific offensive teams in college football — the Cardinals lead the nation in total offense (617 yards per game) and rank third nationally in scoring (55.0 points per game) … Conversely, the Cardinals have allowed 42 and 40 points in their last two games … Louisville's two wins have been against Murray State (73-10) and Middle Tennessee State (58-42) … The Cardinals have won 20 straight home games, trailing only Southern California (34) for the longest home winning streak in the nation … Senior QB Brian Brohm is the nation's sixth-rated passer (193.43) and is fifth nationally in total offense (387.0 yards per game) … Sophomore RB Anthony Allen ranks sixth nationally in rushing (142.3 yards per game), while senior WR Harry Douglas is fourth in receiving yards (158.0 yards per game) and seventh in receptions (8.7 per game)


WEST VIRGINIA vs. East Carolina
Sat 9/22
Noon
ESPN2
Saturday's game will be the 19th meeting between West Virginia and East Carolina in a series that dates to 1970 … West Virginia holds a 16-2 series lead and has won six straight against the Pirates … Last year's matchup saw the Mountaineer defense limit East Carolina to 41 yards on the ground on their way to a 27-10 win … QB Patrick White threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score for West Virginia.

West Virginia enters Saturday's game against East Carolina at 3-0 following a 31-14 win against Maryland last Thursday … The Mountaineers return to Milan Puskar Stadium following back-to-back road wins (against Marshall and Maryland) … West Virginia ranks second nationally in rushing offense (343.7 yards per game), trailing only Navy (378.7 yards per game) … The Mountaineers also rank ninth nationally in both scoring (47.0 points per game) and sacks (3.7 per game) … Junior RB Steve Slaton has scored three touchdowns in every game this season and leads the nation in scoring (18.0 ppg) … Slaton ranks 12th nationally in rushing (130.7 yards per game) … Junior QB Patrick White (81.3 ypg) and freshman RB Noel Devine (85.3 ypg) are also ranked among the conference leaders in rushing.

The Pirates are 1-2 on the year following Saturday's 28-21 loss to Southern Mississippi in their Conference USA opener … East Carolina had led 21-14, but the Pirates saw Southern Mississippi get the go-ahead touchdown with 32 seconds left … East Carolina began the year with a 17-7 setback to Virginia Tech on an emotional day in Blackburg, Va., before the Pirates were 34-31 winners against North Carolina Sept. 8 … East Carolina is coached by Skip Holtz, son of former Notre Dame and South Carolina coach Lou Holtz … Skip Holtz was head coach at current BIG EAST member Connecticut from 1994-98 … The Pirates average 343.7 yards on offense and have allowed an average of 361.3 yards on defense … East Carolina has outscored its opponents by a 35-14 margin in the third quarter, but has been outscored by a combined 62-27 margin in the other three.


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