Big East Football Preview

Out of conference action and a potential trap game for Cincinnati highlights this week's games in the Big East football conference

CINCINNATI vs. Louisville
Sat 10/13
8:00 PM
ESPNU
Saturday's game will be the 48th meeting between Louisville and Cincinnati in a series that dates to 1922 … The Cardinals hold a 26-20-1 series lead and have won four straight against the Bearcats … Louisville has won eight of the last nine meetings, with Cincinnati's win in that stretch coming in the 2002 season … Louisville has won four straight at Nippert Stadium, having not lost on Cincinnati's home field since 1997.

Louisville fell to 3-3 following a 44-35 setback to Utah last Friday … The Cardinals continue to rank among top offensive teams in the nation — Louisville is second in total offense (578.3 yards per game) and fifth in scoring (44.0 points per game) … Leading way is senior QB Brian Brohm, who is the nation's second-leading passer … Brohm has completed 173 of 259 passes for 2,415 yards and 20 touchdowns with four interceptions this season … Brohm has thrown twice as many TD passes as any other BIG EAST quarterback, and he is the only signal-caller in the circuit with more than 2,000 passing yards … Louisville is 1-1 on the road this season — the Cardinals lost at Kentucky and won at North Carolina State.

The Bearcats have won nine straight games and bring the nation's second-longest winning streak into Saturday's game … Only LSU, which has won 13 straight, has a longer winning streak than Cincinnati … The Bearcats bring one of the nation's most balanced teams into Saturday's game with an offense that averages 43.3 points per game and a defense that has allowed an average of 12.7 ppg … The Cincinnati defense has produced 25 turnovers and leads the nation with a net average of 2.5 takeaways per game … QB Ben Mauk has completed 76 of 117 passes for 1,034 yards and 12 touchdowns against just three interceptions … Mauk threw three TD passes in the win against Rutgers last weekend … Mauk ranks fifth in the BIG EAST in passing (206.8 yards per game) and total offense (221.4 ypg) … Freshman WR Marcus Barnett has caught six TD passes, while sophomore WR Marshawn Gilyard has four touchdown receptions.


CONNECTICUT at Virginia
Sat 10/13
3:30 PM
ESPNU
Saturday's game will be the first meeting between Connecticut and Virginia on the gridiron … It will be Connecticut's first game in the state of Virginia since a loss to Virginia Tech in 2003 … Both schools enter the game with five-game winning streaks … The schools have one common opponent in Pittsburgh — Connecticut was a 34-14 winner against the Panthers Sept. 22, while the Cavaliers won 44-14 the following week.

The Huskies enjoyed a bye last weekend, thus remaining one of 11 unbeaten teams in the nation … The Huskies sit just outside the national top 25 in both the Associated Press and USA Today national rankings … Connecticut received votes in both polls this week … UConn is 2-5 coming off of bye weeks since becoming a Bowl Subdivision program in 2002 … Connecticut looks to go 6-0 to start the season for the first time since 1995 … A win against Virginia would complete an undefeated run through the Huskies' nonconference schedule … Connecticut is 3-6 against active ACC members … Connecticut leads the BIG EAST and is ranked fourth nationally in both total defense (250.6 yards per game) and scoring defense (11.0 points per game) … Junior QB Tyler Lorenzen ranks third in the BIG EAST in passing (216.6 yards per game), having completed 87 of 136 for 1,083 yards and six touchdowns … Sophomore RB Donald Brown has rushed for 358 yards and five TDs, ranking fifth in the conference … Sophomore CB Robert Vaughn has a league-best four interceptions in five games … Junior K Tony Ciaravino is the top-scoring kicker in the BIG EAST — he has made 10 of 12 field goals and 19 of 21 PATs to average 9.8 points per game.

Like Connecticut, Virginia is receiving votes in this week's national polls … The Cavaliers are the first team listed in that category in the USA Today poll …Virginia rebounded from a season-opening loss to Wyoming with five straight wins against Duke, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh and Middle Tennessee State … The Cavaliers feature a balanced offense that has averaged 128.7 yards rushing and 178.7 yards passing thus far … Leading the way is junior RB Cedric Peerman, who enters Saturday's game as the ACC's second-leading rusher … Peerman has rushed for 585 yards and five touchdowns on 113 carries … Senior P Ryan Weigand is the nation's second-leading punter, averaging 46.7 yards per punt … Virginia had scored on its opening drive in each of its last four games prior to the Middle Tennessee State contest.


LOUISVILLE at Cincinnati
Sat 10/13
8:00 PM
ESPNU
Saturday's game will be the 48th meeting between Louisville and Cincinnati in a series that dates to 1922 … The Cardinals hold a 26-20-1 series lead and have won four straight against the Bearcats … Louisville has won eight of the last nine meetings, with Cincinnati's win in that stretch coming in the 2002 season … Louisville has won four straight at Nippert Stadium, having not lost on Cincinnati's home field since 1997.

Louisville fell to 3-3 following a 44-35 setback to Utah last Friday … The Cardinals continue to rank among top offensive teams in the nation — Louisville is second in total offense (578.3 yards per game) and fifth in scoring (44.0 points per game) … Leading way is senior QB Brian Brohm, who is the nation's second-leading passer … Brohm has completed 173 of 259 passes for 2,415 yards and 20 touchdowns with four interceptions this season … Brohm has thrown twice as many TD passes as any other BIG EAST quarterback, and he is the only signal-caller in the circuit with more than 2,000 passing yards … Louisville is 1-1 on the road this season — the Cardinals lost at Kentucky and won at North Carolina State.

The Bearcats have won nine straight games and bring the nation's second-longest winning streak into Saturday's game … Only LSU, which has won 13 straight, has a longer winning streak than Cincinnati … The Bearcats bring one of the nation's most balanced teams into Saturday's game with an offense that averages 43.3 points per game and a defense that has allowed an average of 12.7 ppg … The Cincinnati defense has produced 25 turnovers and leads the nation with a net average of 2.5 takeaways per game … QB Ben Mauk has completed 76 of 117 passes for 1,034 yards and 12 touchdowns against just three interceptions … Mauk threw three TD passes in the win against Rutgers last weekend … Mauk ranks fifth in the BIG EAST in passing (206.8 yards per game) and total offense (221.4 ypg) … Freshman WR Marcus Barnett has caught six TD passes, while sophomore WR Marshawn Gilyard has four touchdown receptions.


PITTSBURGH Open Date


Next game vs. Cincinnati on Sat., October 20

RUTGERS at Syracuse
Sat 10/13
Noon
ESPN Regional
The Syracuse-Rutgers rivalry dates to a 14-14 tie in the 1914 season … Saturday's game will be the 38th meeting between the schools with Syracuse holding a 28-8-1 series lead … The teams have met every year since 1980 … Rutgers has taken the last two meetings, including a 38-7 decision at Rutgers Stadium last season … Syracuse leads the series 12-4 since the formation of the BIG EAST, though Rutgers has taken three of the last four.

After beginning the season with five straight home games, Rutgers takes to the road for the first time in 2007 to face Syracuse … Rutgers is the last of the 119 Bowl Subdivision teams to play a road game this season … The Scarlet Knights are receiving votes in this week's national polls, marking the first time in 18 polls that Rutgers hasn't been in the top 25 … Rutgers is led by Heisman Trophy candidate Ray Rice, who has rushed for 622 yards and 10 touchdowns on 129 carries … Rice leads the BIG EAST and ranks 11th nationally in rushing yards per game (124.4) … Junior QB Mike Teel has completed 85 of 139 passes for 1,507 yards and 10 touchdowns and is averaging 301.4 passing yards per game … Junior WR Tiquan Underwood had reached triple digits in receiving yards in each of his first four games this season and is averaging 132.2 yards per game with four touchdowns … Underwood ranks third nationally in receiving yards per game … Rutgers' five home crowds this season all rank among the top seven crowds in Rutgers Stadium history.

Syracuse fell out of first place in the BIG EAST standings with last Saturday's loss to West Virginia as the Orange evened its conference record at 1-1 … The top player for the Orange has been sophomore QB Andrew Robinson, who has completed 83 of 155 passes for 1,245 yards and eight touchdowns with just three interceptions … WR Mike Williams has a team-high four touchdown catches, while WR Taj Smith has three … Five of Robinson's eight touchdown passes have been on plays of 40 yards or longer … Syracuse is averaging 25.8 yards on kickoff returns with Max Suter ranking third in the BIG EAST with an average of 27.9 yards on returns … Saturday's game will feature a halftime performance by country music legend Larry Gatlin as part of Syracuse's homecoming festivities.


SOUTH FLORIDA vs. Central Florida
Sat 10/13
Noon
ESPNU
Saturday's game is just the third meeting between USF and Central Florida … The Bulls have taken both previous games between the in-state rivals with a 31-14 decision in Tampa in 2005 and a 24-17 win last year in Orlando … USF QB Matt Grothe passed for 302 yards and ran for 73 more in last year's matchup … It is the second straight game for USF against a school from Florida, coming on the heels of last week's win at Florida Atlantic.

The combination of solid play on its part and turbulence in the national top-10 through the past two weeks has lifted USF to a No. 5 national ranking in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls … The Bulls moved into the top five following Saturday's 35-23 win at Florida Atlantic … USF has relied on an opportunistic defense to lead the way — the Bulls rank fifth in the eight-team BIG EAST in total defense, but are first in the conference in defensive third down efficiency (25.9 percent) and red zone defense (66.7 percent) … USF has 11 defensive interceptions, trailing only Cincinnati's 16 in the BIG EAST … Sophomore DE George Selvie continues to lead the nation in both sacks (2.1 per game) and tackles for loss (3.6 per game) … Selvie had one sack against Florida Atlantic … The balanced offense is led by sophomore QB Matt Grothe, who has completed 86 of 143 passes for 909 yards and five touchdowns … Junior RB Benjamin Williams has rushed for 310 yards and five TDs after his four-touchdown effort last Saturday … Freshman RB Mike Ford has impressed with 5.6 yards per carry and four touchdowns as a rookie.

The Knights fell to 3-2 with a 52-38 setback to East Carolina last Saturday in Greenville, N.C. … The wins have come against North Carolina State (25-23), Memphis (56-20) and Louisiana-Lafayette (37-19) … Central Florida is 1-1 in Conference USA … The Knights fell against Texas 35-32 in the second week of the season … Central Florida is 1-1 on the road … The Knights enter the game with the nation's leading rusher in junior RB Kevin Smith, who has gained 860 yards with 11 touchdowns on 146 carries … Smith is averaging 172.0 yards per game and ranks sixth among active players in career yards per game … Smith has scored 35 percent of Central Florida's points (66 of 188) … QB Kyle Israel has completed 66 of 124 passes for 825 yards and five touchdowns … Central Florida is playing its home games in the new Bright House Networks Stadium.


SYRACUSE vs. Rutgers
Sat 10/13
Noon
ESPN Regional
The Syracuse-Rutgers rivalry dates to a 14-14 tie in the 1914 season … Saturday's game will be the 38th meeting between the schools with Syracuse holding a 28-8-1 series lead … The teams have met every year since 1980 … Rutgers has taken the last two meetings, including a 38-7 decision at Rutgers Stadium last season … Syracuse leads the series 12-4 since the formation of the BIG EAST, though Rutgers has taken three of the last four.

After beginning the season with five straight home games, Rutgers takes to the road for the first time in 2007 to face Syracuse … Rutgers is the last of the 119 Bowl Subdivision teams to play a road game this season … The Scarlet Knights are receiving votes in this week's national polls, marking the first time in 18 polls that Rutgers hasn't been in the top 25 … Rutgers is led by Heisman Trophy candidate Ray Rice, who has rushed for 622 yards and 10 touchdowns on 129 carries … Rice leads the BIG EAST and ranks 11th nationally in rushing yards per game (124.4) … Junior QB Mike Teel has completed 85 of 139 passes for 1,507 yards and 10 touchdowns and is averaging 301.4 passing yards per game … Junior WR Tiquan Underwood had reached triple digits in receiving yards in each of his first four games this season and is averaging 132.2 yards per game with four touchdowns … Underwood ranks third nationally in receiving yards per game … Rutgers' five home crowds this season all rank among the top seven crowds in Rutgers Stadium history.

Syracuse fell out of first place in the BIG EAST standings with last Saturday's loss to West Virginia as the Orange evened its conference record at 1-1 … The top player for the Orange has been sophomore QB Andrew Robinson, who has completed 83 of 155 passes for 1,245 yards and eight touchdowns with just three interceptions … WR Mike Williams has a team-high four touchdown catches, while WR Taj Smith has three … Five of Robinson's eight touchdown passes have been on plays of 40 yards or longer … Syracuse is averaging 25.8 yards on kickoff returns with Max Suter ranking third in the BIG EAST with an average of 27.9 yards on returns … Saturday's game will feature a halftime performance by country music legend Larry Gatlin as part of Syracuse's homecoming festivities.


WEST VIRGINIA Open Date


Next game vs. Mississippi State on Sat., October 20

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