Big East Football Preview

A pair of conference title, including another Top 25 matchup, and an interesting out of conference contest highlight this week's action

CINCINNATI at Rutgers
Sat 10/6
8:00 PM
ESPN2
Saturday's game will be the 13th meeting between Cincinnati and Rutgers since 1980, and the Scarlet Knights hold a 7-4-1 lead in the series … The home team has won the last four games in the series, including Cincinnati's 30-11 decision last year at Nippert Stadium … Rutgers has gone 6-0 against the Bearcats in games played at either Rutgers Stadium or Giants Stadium.

Cincinnati is off to its best start since 1954, while head coach Brian Kelly is the first Bearcat coach in program history to win his first six games following a 52-23 win Saturday night against San Diego State … Cincinnati's current eight-game winning streak is the third-longest in the nation, trailing only Wisconsin (14) and LSU (12) … The Bearcats made their first appearance in the national polls since 1976 last week … The Bearcats rank sixth nationally and first in the BIG EAST in scoring offense (46.4 points per game) … Cincinnati has scored at least 34 points in all five games this season and has at least 50 points in two games … Conversely, the highest point total by a Bearcat opponent this year is the 23 scored by San Diego State last weekend … Cincinnati has forced 21 turnovers this season — more than any team in the nation … QB Ben Mauk has completed 56 of 80 passes for 777 yards and nine touchdowns with two interceptions … Seven different players have caught at least one touchdown pass, four players have at least two rushing touchdowns, and three players have thrown a TD pass.

The Scarlet Knights saw their 10-game home winning streak end with last Saturday's 34-24 setback to Maryland … Rutgers is 5-1 following a loss since 2005 … Saturday's game against Cincinnati will mark just the third time that a nationally ranked Rutgers team has faced a nationally ranked opponent, with both prior instances taking place last season (against Louisville and West Virginia) … Rutgers has been ranked in the national polls for 18 consecutive weeks … Junior WR Tiquan Underwood has been spectacular on offense this season, becoming the first player in school history to register four consecutive games with at least 100 receiving yards … Junior RB Ray Rice is the school's career rushing leader (3,442 yards) and ranks seventh on the BIG EAST's all-time chart … Junior QB Mike Teel is 16-4 as Rutgers' starter.


CONNECTICUT Open Date


Next game at Virginia on Saturday, October 13

LOUISVILLE vs. Utah
Fri 10/5
8:00 PM
ESPN
Friday's game will be the third meeting between Louisville and Utah and the first since the 1998 season … The Utes hold a 2-0 series lead with a 27-21 win in Salt Lake City in 1997 and a 45-22 decision in Louisville the following year … Friday's game will be the only game for Utah in the Eastern time zone this season.

Louisville rebounded from back-to-back losses with a solid 29-10 win at North Carolina State last weekend … After surrendering more than 450 yards in each of the past two weeks, the Cardinal defense limited the Wolfpack to 334 yards and forced five turnovers … Louisville is led by senior QB Brian Brohm, who leads the BIG EAST and ranks third nationally in total offense (392.2 yards per game) … Brohm has completed 134 of 201 passes for 1,948 yards and 16 touchdowns with four interceptions … Brohm has the reins of a Cardinal offense that ranks second nationally with an average of 595.4 yards per game … Louisville also ranks third nationally in passing (393.4 ypg) and seventh in scoring (45.8 points per game) … Senior WR Harry Douglas is ranked second nationally in receiving yards (169.8 yards per game), but missed last week's game against North Carolina State with an ankle injury … Senior K Art Carmody kicked two extra points in the win against the Wolfpack, giving him an NCAA-record 228 PATs.

Utah improved to 2-3 on the year with a 34-18 win against Utah State last weekend in Salt Lake City … The Utes' other win was a 44-6 decision against UCLA, while the losses have been to Oregon State (24-7), Air Force (20-12) and UNLV (27-0) … Utah has held opponents to an average of 19 points per game, thanks to a unit that ranks ninth nationally in pass defense (151.6 yards per game) … The Utes are led offensively by QB Brian Johnson, who threw two touchdown passes in the win against Utah State … Johnson, a second-team All-Mountain West Conference selection in 2005, was a medical redshirt last season and had missed two games with a shoulder injury … Johnson has completed 38 of 61 passes for 378 yards and three touchdowns in three games this season … Utah has just two rushing touchdowns on the year, both from junior RB Darrell Mack … Junior K Louie Sakoda has made seven field goals in eight attempts, including 5 of 6 from 40 yards or longer … Utah was 8-5 last season, including a 25-13 win against Tulsa in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.


PITTSBURGH Open Date


Next game Wednesday, October 10 vs. Navy

RUTGERS vs. Cincinnati
Sat 10/6
8:00 PM
ESPN2
Saturday's game will be the 13th meeting between Cincinnati and Rutgers since 1980, and the Scarlet Knights hold a 7-4-1 lead in the series … The home team has won the last four games in the series, including Cincinnati's 30-11 decision last year at Nippert Stadium … Rutgers has gone 6-0 against the Bearcats in games played at either Rutgers Stadium or Giants Stadium.

Cincinnati is off to its best start since 1954, while head coach Brian Kelly is the first Bearcat coach in program history to win his first six games following a 52-23 win Saturday night against San Diego State … Cincinnati's current eight-game winning streak is the third-longest in the nation, trailing only Wisconsin (14) and LSU (12) … The Bearcats made their first appearance in the national polls since 1976 last week … The Bearcats rank sixth nationally and first in the BIG EAST in scoring offense (46.4 points per game) … Cincinnati has scored at least 34 points in all five games this season and has at least 50 points in two games … Conversely, the highest point total by a Bearcat opponent this year is the 23 scored by San Diego State last weekend … Cincinnati has forced 21 turnovers this season - more than any team in the nation … QB Ben Mauk has completed 56 of 80 passes for 777 yards and nine touchdowns with two interceptions … Seven different players have caught at least one touchdown pass, four players have at least two rushing touchdowns, and three players have thrown a TD pass.

The Scarlet Knights saw their 10-game home winning streak end with last Saturday's 34-24 setback to Maryland … Rutgers is 5-1 following a loss since 2005 … Saturday's game against Cincinnati will mark just the third time that a nationally ranked Rutgers team has faced a nationally ranked opponent, with both prior instances taking place last season (against Louisville and West Virginia) … Rutgers has been ranked in the national polls for 18 consecutive weeks … Junior WR Tiquan Underwood has been spectacular on offense this season, becoming the first player in school history to register four consecutive games with at least 100 receiving yards … Junior RB Ray Rice is the school's career rushing leader (3,442 yards) and ranks seventh on the BIG EAST's all-time chart … Junior QB Mike Teel is 16-4 as Rutgers' starter.


SOUTH FLORIDA at Florida Atlantic
Sat 10/6
3:30 PM
ESPNU
Saturday's game is just the second meeting between USF and Florida Atlantic … The only previous meeting between the schools was USF's 51-10 win in Tampa Aug. 29, 2002 … The game begins a stretch of two straight for USF against instate rivals — the Bulls take on Central Florida Oct. 13.

USF has moved into the top 10 of the national polls this week on the heels of the Bulls' 21-13 win against West Virginia last Friday … USF is No. 6 in the Associated Press poll, No. 9 in the USA Today poll and 10 in the Harris Interactive poll … USF is rated No. 3 in the Sagarin Rating, which is as part of the BCS process … The Bulls have been led by a stout defense that has limited opponents to just 3.8 yards per play and 287.5 yards per game …USF leads the nation in tackles for loss (11.3 per game) and is eighth in sacks (3.8 per game) … Sophomore DE George Selvie has contributed significantly to both of those numbers as he leads the nation in both tackles for loss (4.3 per game) and sacks (2.4 per game) … USF's defense has 10 interceptions, while the Bulls have only thrown two picks … Sophomore QB Matt Grothe leads the offense, having completed 69 of 116 passes for 787 yards and five touchdowns … The Bulls have four players with at least 100 receiving yards each and 14 players who have caught at least one pass … Senior LB Ben Moffitt has three interceptions in the last two games, while sophomore S Nate Allen has three picks as well to tie for the team lead.

Florida Atlantic is one of two Bowl Subdivision programs that has a shorter existence than USF … The Owls first fielded a football team in 2002, or two years after USF introduced the sport … Florida Atlantic is coached by Howard Schnellenberger, who was head coach of the 1983 national championship team at Miami (Fla.) and was defensive coordinator of Alabama's national championship squads in 1961, 1964 and 1965 … Schnellenberger also has been head coach at Louisville (1985- 94) and Oklahoma (1995) … Florida Atlantic's wins have been against Middle Tennessee State (27-14), Minnesota (42-39) and North Texas (30-20), while the losses have been to Oklahoma State (42-6) and Kentucky (45-17) … The game against USF will mark the second straight top-25 opponent for the Owls … QB Rusty Smith has thrown nine touchdown passes and just two interceptions on the year while completing 89 of 162 passes for 1,289 yards.


SYRACUSE vs. West Virginia
Sat 10/6
Noon
ERT
Saturday's game will be the 55th meeting between Syracuse and West Virginia in a series that dates to 1945 … The Orange holds a 30-24 series lead, though the Mountaineers have taken the last five meetings … Since the formation of the BIG EAST, the series is tied at 8-8 … The winner of the annual Syracuse- West Virginia game has received the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy since 1993 … Last year's meeting saw the Mountaineers gain 457 rushing yards and 562 total yards in a 41-17 win in Morgantown, W.Va., as West Virginia QB Patrick White rushed for 247 yards.

The Mountaineers fell to No. 13 in this week's Associated Press poll and No. 12 in the USA Today poll following a 21-13 loss to USF last Friday in Tampa … The Mountaineers are now 0-2 against USF and 15-1 against all other opponents in the last two seasons … Junior RB Steve Slaton has rushed for 556 yards and nine touchdowns on 97 carries this season and is ranked 20th nationally with an average of 111.2 rushing yards per game … Junior QB Patrick White has 322 rushing yards and six touchdowns to go with six TD passes and 717 yards through the air … White sustained a thigh injury against USF, however, and was replaced by sophomore QB Jarrett Brown … Junior LB Mortty Ivy has four sacks, an interception and a forced fumble to lead the Mountaineer defense, which has allowed just one opponent to surpass 300 yards in a game.

Syracuse's bid for back-to-back wins came up short as the Orange couldn't complete a comeback bid on the road against Miami (Ohio) … The 17 points allowed to the RedHawks were the fewest by a Syracuse opponent this season … The top player for the Orange has been sophomore QB Andrew Robinson, who has completed 78 of 140 passes for 1,145 yards and seven touchdowns … Robinson has thrown just one interception this season and has attempted 104 passes since that pick … Syracuse has committed just five turnovers, good for seventh nationally … Syracuse will recognize its undefeated 1987 team in an on-field ceremony Saturday … Junior K Patrick Shadle is a native of Morgantown, W.Va.


WEST VIRGINIA At Syracuse
Sat 10/6
Noon
ERT
Saturday's game will be the 55th meeting between Syracuse and West Virginia in a series that dates to 1945 … The Orange holds a 30-24 series lead, though the Mountaineers have taken the last five meetings … Since the formation of the BIG EAST, the series is tied at 8-8 … The winner of the annual Syracuse- West Virginia game has received the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy since 1993 … Last year's meeting saw the Mountaineers gain 457 rushing yards and 562 total yards in a 41-17 win in Morgantown, W.Va., as West Virginia QB Patrick White rushed for 247 yards.

The Mountaineers fell to No. 13 in this week's Associated Press poll and No. 12 in the USA Today poll following a 21-13 loss to USF last Friday in Tampa … The Mountaineers are now 0-2 against USF and 15-1 against all other opponents in the last two seasons … Junior RB Steve Slaton has rushed for 556 yards and nine touchdowns on 97 carries this season and is ranked 20th nationally with an average of 111.2 rushing yards per game … Junior QB Patrick White has 322 rushing yards and six touchdowns to go with six TD passes and 717 yards through the air … White sustained a thigh injury against USF, however, and was replaced by sophomore QB Jarrett Brown … Junior LB Mortty Ivy has four sacks, an interception and a forced fumble to lead the Mountaineer defense, which has allowed just one opponent to surpass 300 yards in a game.

Syracuse's bid for back-to-back wins came up short as the Orange couldn't complete a comeback bid on the road against Miami (Ohio) … The 17 points allowed to the RedHawks were the fewest by a Syracuse opponent this season … The top player for the Orange has been sophomore QB Andrew Robinson, who has completed 78 of 140 passes for 1,145 yards and seven touchdowns … Robinson has thrown just one interception this season and has attempted 104 passes since that pick … Syracuse has committed just five turnovers, good for seventh nationally … Syracuse will recognize its undefeated 1987 team in an on-field ceremony Saturday … Junior K Patrick Shadle is a native of Morgantown, W.Va.


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