Big East Preview

One conference titls and several intriguing out of league matchups dot this week's Big East slate.

CINCINNATI at San Diego St.
Sat 9/29
10:00 p.m.
Versus
Saturday's game will be the first meeting between Cincinnati and San Diego State … The game, which takes place in Qualcomm Stadium, is one of three that Cincinnati will play in an NFL stadium this season — the Bearcats also will play at Heinz Field (Pittsburgh) and Raymond James Stadium (USF) … It will be Cincinnati's first game in California in the last 49 years.

Cincinnati moved into the No. 24 spot in this week's Assoicated Press top-25 poll and is the first team listed in the receiving votes category in the USA Today coaches poll … The listing in the AP ranking is Cincinnati's first since Oct. 25, 1976 … The Bearcats have won seven straight games — the longest active winning streak in the BIG EAST and Cincinnati's longest since the 1954 team won its first eight games of that season … Cincinnati has outscored its first four opponents by a combined score of 180-30 … The Bearcats are ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense (7.5 points per game) and have allowed just three touchdowns in 2007 … Cincinnati leads the nation in turnover margin averaging a net of 3.75 takeaways per game … The Bearcats have forced 19 turnovers (seven recovered fumbles, 12 interceptions) which have led to to 79 points … Junior P Kevin Huber is the nation's leading punter with an average of 49.6 yards per punt … Junior CB Mike Mickens has a team- and BIG EAST-high four interceptions to lead the Bearcat defense.

The Aztecs picked up their first win of the season with a 52-17 decision against Portland State Saturday night … The two losses were road setbacks to Washington State (45-17) and Arizona State (34-13) … San Diego State has won three straight home games … The Aztecs' 35-point margin of victory against Portland State was the team's largest since a 56-8 win against Hawaii in 1996 … The Aztecs have seen eight different players catch at least one pass in each of their three games this season … San Diego State ranks 15th nationally in passing offense (313.0 yards per game) … Senior QB Kevin O'Connell is the primary threat with 896 passing yards and six TD passes … O'Connell ranks 16th nationally in total offense (323.3 yards per game) … Senior CB Vonnie Holmes has three interceptions to lead the defense.


CONNECTICUT vs. Akron
Sat 9/29
Noon
ERT
Connecticut and Akron meet for the third time Saturday in a series that dates to 2000 … The Huskies are 2-0 all-time against Akron, having won 38-35 in 2000 and 38-37 in 2003 … The 2003 game featured a game-winning, 27-yard field goal by Connecticut kicker Matt Nuzie as time expired in a game that featured a pair of current NFL quarterbacks — UConn's Dan Orlovsky and Akron's Charlie Frye.

Akron stands at 2-2 following a 27-20 win against Kent State last Saturday in Akron … The Zips have bookended that win and a season-opening victory against Army (22-14) with losses at Ohio State (20-2) and Indiana (41-24) … The game against Ohio State drew attention as the Zips held a 2-0 lead after the first quarter and faced only a 3-2 deficit at hafltime against the then-11th-ranked Buckeyes … The Zips' win in their rivalry game against Kent State gave Akron possession of the Wagon Wheel … Senior LB Brion Stokes is this week's Mid- American Conference East Division Player of the Week after he had 10 tackles, a tackle for loss, and a fumble recovery against Kent State … Akron goes with two quarterbacks — Chris Jacquemain has made three starts and completed 32 of 54 passes for 236 yards and one touchdown … Carlton Jackson has completed 30 of 56 passes for 346 yards and three TDs and has rushed for two scores … Akron head coach J.D. Brookhart was an assistant at Pittsburgh from 1997-2003 before taking over on the Zips' sideline.

Connecticut is 4-0 as the Huskies picked up a 34-14 win at Pittsburgh in their BIG EAST opener Saturday … Connecticut is receiving votes in this week's Associated Press top-25 poll … The Huskies had received votes in the national polls during the 2003 and 2004 seasons … UConn also received votes in the first Harris Interactive poll this week … Connecticut has won nine straight games against opponents from the Mid-American Conference … The Huskies are anchored by a defense that ranks 12th nationally in total defense through four weeks … Connecticut has allowed an average of 250.5 yards per game … UConn is also ranked among the national leaders in scoring defense (7th, 11.3 points per game) rushing defense (16th, 85.0 ypg) and pass defense (19th, 165.5 ypg) … Junior QB Tyler Lorenzen has completed 70 of 110 passes for 880 yards and four touchdowns … Redshirt freshman LB Lawrence Wilson is averaging 9.2 tackles per game, good for fourth in the BIG EAST.


LOUISVILLE At N.C. State
Sat 9/29
3:30 PM
ESPNU
Saturday's game will be the third between Louisville and North Carolina State in a series that dates to 1951 … The Cardinals have taken both previous matchups — a 26-2 decision in 1951 and a 35-14 win in the 1994 season … Saturday's game will be the first in the series to be played at North Carolina State.

Louisville looks to get back on track as the Cardinals enter Saturday's game on the heels of back-to-back losses to Kentucky and Syracuse … All four of Louisville's games in 2007 have been shootouts, with the 73 points from last weekend's game against Syracuse standing as the lowest combined total this season … Louisville's offense has been spectacular — the Cardinals lead the nation in total offense (619.8 yards per game) and average 50 points per game, good for fourth nationally … Senior QB Brian Brohm had a career day spoiled by the loss to Syracuse as the Heisman Trophy candidate set BIG EAST records with 45 completions, 65 attempts and 555 passing yards to go with four more touchdown passes … For the season, Brohm has connected on 114 of 168 passes (67.9 percent) for 1,697 yards and 15 touchdowns … Brohm ranks second nationally with an average of 424.5 passing yards per game … Senior WR Harry Douglas is averaging a BIG EAST-best 169.8 receiving yards per game, while sophomore RB Anthony Allen ranks third in the conference with an average of 123.2 rushing yards per game.

The Wolfpack is 1-3 thus far following a 42-20 setback to No. 15/14 Clemson Saturday in Raleigh … The lone win has been against Wofford (38-17), while the other two losses have been at the hands of Central Florida (25-23) and Boston College (37-17) … Head coach Tom O'Brien is in his first year at North Carolina State after spending the previous six seasons as head coach at Boston College … Opponents have averaged 30.2 points and 408.2 yards against North Carolina State this season … The Wolfpack is led by junior RB Andre Brown, who has rushed for 335 yards and five touchdowns on 67 carries … Sophomore QB Harrison Beck has seen most of the action behind center, and he has completed 60 of 116 passes for 650 yards, two touchdowns and seven interceptions … The Wolfpack ranks 16th nationally in pass defense (161.3 yards per game), but is 115th nationally against the run (247.0 yards per game).


PITTSBURGH at Virginia
Sat 9/29
7:00 p.m.
ESPNU
The Pitt-Virginia series began in 1953, and the Panthers hold a 3-1 lead in the previous four games … The schools last met Sept. 2, 2006, when the Panthers took a 38-13 decision at Heinz Field … Saturday's game will be the first in Charlottesville since the 1953 matchup … It is Pitt's first road game against an ACC opponent since 1992 … Both schools' head coaches were former NFL head coaches — Pitt's Dave Wannstedt was formerly head coach of the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears, while Virginia's Al Groh was coach of the New York Jets.

Pittsburgh had opened the 2007 season with wins against Eastern Michigan (27-3) and Grambling State (34-10), but looks to rid itself of a two-game slide following back-to-back losses to Michigan State (17-13) and Connecticut (34-14) … Injuries have riddled the Pittsburgh lineup as the Panthers expect to start their third quarterback of the season Saturday in true freshman Pat Bostick … Bostick came on in relief in last Saturday's loss to Connecticut and completed 27 of 41 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown — all in the second half … Freshman RB LeSean McCoy also takes snaps in the Panther offense … McCoy ranks fourth in the BIG EAST in rushing with an average of 104.2 yards per game to go with five rushing touchdowns … The Panthers rank second in the BIG EAST in pass defense (154.5 yards per game).

Virginia has rebounded from a season-opening loss to Wyoming with three straight ACC wins against Duke, North Carolina and Georgia Tech to enter Saturday's game against Pittsburgh at 3-1 … The Cavaliers feature a balanced offense that has averaged 112 yards rushing and 170 yards passing thus far … Leading the way is junior RB Cedric Peerman, who enters Saturday's game as the ACC's rushing leader … Peerman has rushed for 479 yards and three touchdowns on 84 carries and ranks 16th nationally with an average of 119.8 rushing yards per game … The defense is paced by senior DE Chris Long, who has registered six sacks through four games, ranking second to USF's George Selvie in that category … Senior P Ryan Weigand is the nation's second-leading punter, averaging 48.62 yards per kick, just behind Cincinnati's Kevin Huber (48.63) … Virginia has scored on its opening drive in each game of its current three-game winning streak.


RUTGERS vs. Maryland
Sat 9/29
3:30 p.m.
ABC
Saturday's game will be the ninth meeting between Rutgers and Maryland, though it will mark the first game between those schools since 1942 … Maryland holds a 5-3 series lead.

Rutgers enters Saturday's game well-rested as the Scarlet Knights enjoyed a bye in Week 4 of the season … Many of the Rutgers starters played only the first half of the Scarlet Knights' previous game — the 59-0 blowout of Norfolk State that saw Rutgers score 42 points in the second quarter … Following Louisville's loss to Syracuse last Saturday, Rutgers' current 10-game winning streak at Rutgers Stadium stands as the longest home streak by a BIG EAST program … Rutgers ranks second in the BIG EAST and ninth in the nation in total offense (525.3 yards per game) … The focal point is junior RB Ray Rice, the Heisman Trophy candidate who is the conference's leading rusher (143.7 yards per game) … Rice has rushed for 431 yards and eight touchdowns on 74 carries and is averaging 5.8 yards per attempt … Junior QB Mike Teel enters Saturday's game as the nation's top-rated passer (236.7) … Teel has completed 38 of 57 passes for 863 yards and eight touchdowns against just one interception … Junior WR Tiquan Underwood has been the primary beneficiary with 20 catches for 500 yards and three TDs, good for fourth nationally in receiving yards per game (166.7).

Maryland has dropped back-to-back games to fall to 2-2 after a 31-24 overtime setback to Wake Forest last Saturday … That defeat came on the heels of a 31- 14 loss to West Virginia a week earlier … The wins have been against Villanova (31-14) and Florida International (26-10) … Maryland's defense has allowed just 289.2 yards per game, good for second in the ACC … The Terrapins rank ninth nationally in pass defense (142.8 yards per game) … Junior LB Erin Henderson ranks 14th nationally and third in the ACC in tackles (11.0 per game) … Senior RB Keon Lattimore is the top rusher with an average of 102.3 yards per game and an ACC-best seven rushing touchdowns … The game against Rutgers marks Maryland's second game against a top-10 opponent in the last three weeks — West Virginia was ranked No. 4 when those schools met Sept. 13 … Maryland is looking for its first win against a top-10 opponent since a 20-17 win against No. 5 Florida State in the 2004 season … Maryland ranks second in the nation in time of possession, averaging 34:16 of ball control.


SOUTH FLORIDA vs. West Virginia
Fri 9/28
8:00 p.m.
ESPN2
Friday's game will be just the third meeting between West Virginia and USF as the series coincides with the Bulls' joining the BIG EAST in 2004 … The series is tied at 1-1, with the visiting team prevailing both times … Last year's matchup saw USF get 326 yards of total offense from QB Matt Grothe as the Bulls upset the No. 7 Mountaineers 24-19 in Morgantown, W.Va. … West Virginia was a 28- 13 winner in the only other meeting in Tampa in 2005.

West Virginia maintained its No. 5 rank in both polls with a 48-7 win against East Carolina Saturday … The Mountaineers have been nationally ranked in 31 straight polls and have been in the top 10 in 20 of the last 22 weeks … The Mountaineers have gone 26-3 in their last 29 games and enter Friday's game having won six straight … West Virginia is 2-0 on the road this season and 23-6 on the road under head coach Rich Rodriguez … West Virginia averages 47.2 points per game, which ranks ninth nationally … The Mountaineers are ranked No. 2 in the nation in rushing (357.0 yards per game), trailing only Navy (360.0) … Junior RB Steve Slaton is tied for West Virginia's school record with 47 career rushing touchdowns … Slaton has rushed for 502 yards and nine TDs on 84 carries in 2007 … Head coach Rich Rodriguez is one win shy of 100 in his collegiate career.

USF, which entered the top 25 for the first time in school history last week, moved to No. 18 in both polls this week following the Bulls' 37-10 win against North Carolina … USF held the Tar Heels to just 164 yards of offense … The Bulls bring the BIG EAST's top-ranked rushing defense (79.0 yards per game) into Friday's game against West Virginia's top-ranked rushing offense (357.0 yards per game) … The Bulls are ranked second in the BIG EAST and seventh nationally in total defense (237.7 yards per game) … The Bulls are fourth in the nation in tackles for loss (10.3 per game) and sixth in sacks (4.0 per game) … Sophomore QB Matt Grothe has completed 58 of 96 passes for 652 yards and four touchdowns without an interception this season … Sophomore DE George Selvie is the national leader in both sacks (8.5) and has more than twice as many tackles for loss (15) than any other BIG EAST player this season.


SYRACUSE at Miami (OH)
Sat 9/29
3:00 p.m.
ERT
Saturday's game will be the fourth meeting on the gridiron between Syracuse and Miami (Ohio), and the Orange holds a 3-0 series lead … Saturday's game will mark the first game to be played in Oxford, Ohio, in the series … The 1980 matchup between Syracuse and Miami was the first game in the Carrier Dome and was played before a still-standing Dome record of 50,564 … Last year's matchup featured eight sacks by the Syracuse defense as the Orange took a 34-14 win.

Syracuse delivered one of the biggest upsets of the young college football season as the previously winless Orange ended the second-longest active home winning streak in Division I football with a 38-35 victory against then-No. 18 Louisville … The win marked Syracuse's first against a ranked opponent since the Orange gained a share of the 2004 BIG EAST title with a 43-17 decision at No. 17/19 Boston College Nov. 27, 2004 … Sophomore QB Andrew Robinson ranks third in the BIG EAST in passing yardage, averaging 227.2 yards per game … Robinson's near-record-setting performance against Louisville (423 yards, four touchdowns) gives him 909 yards and five TDs on 61-for-104 passing … Freshman Max Suter is averaging 27.2 yards on kickoff returns, including a 93-yard touchdown against the Cardinals … Junior WR Taj Smith is ranked sixth in the BIG EAST in receiving yardage as he averages 62.5 yards per game with two TDs … The Orange is plus-3 in the turnover margin category after Syracuse had four takeaways against Louisville.

The RedHawks look to shake a losing streak that reached three games with last Saturday's 42-0 setback to Colorado … Saturday's game against Syracuse will be Miami's second against a BIG EAST opponent this season — the RedHawks fell 47-10 to Cincinnati Sept. 15… 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 … QB Dan Radabaugh has completed 48 of 101 passes for 557 yards and three touchdowns, while QB Mike Kokal is 34-for-63 for 341 yards and one score … Senior RB Brandon Murphy is averaging 100.5 rushing yards per game and has two touchdowns … After allowing just 13 points in their opener, the RedHawks have given up at least 40 points in each of the last three games … Past Miami coaches include Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Bill Arnsparger and Randy Walker.


WEST VIRGINIA At South Florida
Fri 9/28
8:00 p.m.
ESPN2
Friday's game will be just the third meeting between West Virginia and USF as the series coincides with the Bulls' joining the BIG EAST in 2004 … The series is tied at 1-1, with the visiting team prevailing both times … Last year's matchup saw USF get 326 yards of total offense from QB Matt Grothe as the Bulls upset the No. 7 Mountaineers 24-19 in Morgantown, W.Va. … West Virginia was a 28- 13 winner in the only other meeting in Tampa in 2005.

West Virginia maintained its No. 5 rank in both polls with a 48-7 win against East Carolina Saturday … The Mountaineers have been nationally ranked in 31 straight polls and have been in the top 10 in 20 of the last 22 weeks … The Mountaineers have gone 26-3 in their last 29 games and enter Friday's game having won six straight … West Virginia is 2-0 on the road this season and 23-6 on the road under head coach Rich Rodriguez … West Virginia averages 47.2 points per game, which ranks ninth nationally … The Mountaineers are ranked No. 2 in the nation in rushing (357.0 yards per game), trailing only Navy (360.0) … Junior RB Steve Slaton is tied for West Virginia's school record with 47 career rushing touchdowns … Slaton has rushed for 502 yards and nine TDs on 84 carries in 2007 … Head coach Rich Rodriguez is one win shy of 100 in his collegiate career.

USF, which entered the top 25 for the first time in school history last week, moved to No. 18 in both polls this week following the Bulls' 37-10 win against North Carolina … USF held the Tar Heels to just 164 yards of offense … The Bulls bring the BIG EAST's top-ranked rushing defense (79.0 yards per game) into Friday's game against West Virginia's top-ranked rushing offense (357.0 yards per game) … The Bulls are ranked second in the BIG EAST and seventh nationally in total defense (237.7 yards per game) … The Bulls are fourth in the nation in tackles for loss (10.3 per game) and sixth in sacks (4.0 per game) … Sophomore QB Matt Grothe has completed 58 of 96 passes for 652 yards and four touchdowns without an interception this season … Sophomore DE George Selvie is the national leader in both sacks (8.5) and has more than twice as many tackles for loss (15) than any other BIG EAST player this season.


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