Big East Preview

All eight teams are in action this week in the Big East football conference

CINCINNATI at Pittsburgh
Sat 10/20
Noon
ESPN Regional
Saturday's game will be the seventh meeting between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in a series that dates to 1921 … The Panthers have taken all six previous meetings, including a 38-20 win in 2005 in the only game played at Heinz Field … Last year's matchup — a 33-15 Pitt win — featured two long touchdown receptions by Panther WR Derek Kinder.

Cincinnati looks to rebound from its first loss of the season — a 28-24 setback to Louisville at Nippert Stadium … The Bearcats, who had forced 25 turnovers though their first six games, were not able to get a takeaway against the Cardinals … Cincinnati saw a nine-game winning streak come to an end … The Bearcats have won four straight road games and five straight away from Nippert Stadium (including the 2007 International Bowl in Toronto) … QB Ben Mauk has thrown 15 touchdown passes and ranks third in the BIG EAST in passing (226.3 yards per game) … The top receiver is freshman WR Marcus Barnett, who has a league-best eight touchdown receptions … The defense is paced by junior CB Mike Mickens, who has four interceptions … Junior P Kevin Huber — dubbed by coach Brian Kelly as the team's MVP —leads the nation with an average of 48.1 yards per punt.

The Panthers play the first of three nationally ranked opponents in their final six games with Saturday's matchup against Cincinnati … Pittsburgh is looking to avoid its first 0-2 start in the BIG EAST since 2001 … Saturday's game will be part of Pittsburgh's homecoming festivities … The Panthers are 25-11-1 in homecoming games … True freshman RB LeSean McCoy has been a bright spot for Pittsburgh … McCoy ranks second in the BIG EAST in rushing with an average of 111.3 yards per game … McCoy ranks second among all Bowl Subdivision freshmen on the national rushing chart and is 21st overall … McCoy has rushed for 668 yards and nine touchdowns in his rookie year … True freshman QB Pat Bostick, who has started the last three games, has completed 65 of 101 passes for 602 yards and three touchdowns … Junior LB Scott McKillop leads the BIG EAST with 11.8 tackles per game.


CONNECTICUT vs. Louisville
Fri Oct 19
8:00 PM
ESPN
Connecticut and Louisville meet for the fourth time Friday, with the Cardinals holding a 3-0 series lead … Friday's game will mark the second game between the schools at Rentschler Field … Louisville was a 30-20 winner in 2005 in the last meeting in the Nutmeg State … Last year's game saw Cardinal QB Brian Brohm complete 20 of 28 passes for 341 yards and four touchdowns, including two to WR Harry Douglas, in a 48-17 Louisville win.

The Cardinals picked up their first BIG EAST win, evening their conference record at 1-1 with a 28-24 win at previously unbeaten Cincinnati last Saturday … In addition to the win against Cincinnati, the Cardinals have defeated Murray State, Middle Tennessee State and North Carolina State … Senior QB Brian Brohm continues to have an excellent season as he leads the BIG EAST in passing (395.0 yards per game) and total offense (393.0 yards per game) … Brohm has thrown 23 touchdown passes against just four interceptions … Junior LB Lamar Myles ranks second in the BIG EAST in tackles per game (11.1) and leads the league with 78 total tackles … Louisville is 3-0 when it has held its opponent below 400 yards of offense and 1-3 when the opponent surpasses 400 yards.

Despite dropping their first game of the 2007 season at Virginia last Saturday, the Huskies continued to receive votes in all three major polls this week … Connecticut's 5-1 start remains the program's best start to a season since 1998, when the Huskies won seven of their first eight … Connecticut leads the BIG EAST and is ranked third nationally in scoring defense (12.0 points allowed per game) … No team has scored more than 17 points against the Huskies this season … Junior QB Tyler Lorenzen has completed 104 of 169 passes for 1,259 yards and nine touchdowns … Lonrenzen ranks fourth in the BIG EAST in passing (209.8 yards per game) … Sophomore S Robert Vaughn leads the conference with five interceptions and has totaled 109 yards in returns … Junior K Tony Ciaravino leads all BIG EAST kickers, and is third among all players, in scoring, averaging 9.8 points per game … Senior Tyvon Branch is the top return man in the league with an average of 32.8 yards on kickoff returns.


LOUISVILLE at Connecticut
Fri 10/19
8:00 PM
ESPN
Connecticut and Louisville meet for the fourth time Friday, with the Cardinals holding a 3-0 series lead … Friday's game will mark the second game between the schools at Rentschler Field … Louisville was a 30-20 winner in 2005 in the last meeting in the Nutmeg State … Last year's game saw Cardinal QB Brian Brohm complete 20 of 28 passes for 341 yards and four touchdowns, including two to WR Harry Douglas, in a 48-17 Louisville win.

The Cardinals picked up their first BIG EAST win, evening their conference record at 1-1 with a 28-24 win at previously unbeaten Cincinnati last Saturday … In addition to the win against Cincinnati, the Cardinals have defeated Murray State, Middle Tennessee State and North Carolina State … Senior QB Brian Brohm continues to have an excellent season as he leads the BIG EAST in passing (395.0 yards per game) and total offense (393.0 yards per game) … Brohm has thrown 23 touchdown passes against just four interceptions … Junior LB Lamar Myles ranks second in the BIG EAST in tackles per game (11.1) and leads the league with 78 total tackles … Louisville is 3-0 when it has held its opponent below 400 yards of offense and 1-3 when the opponent surpasses 400 yards.

Despite dropping their first game of the 2007 season at Virginia last Saturday, the Huskies continued to receive votes in all three major polls this week … Connecticut's 5-1 start remains the program's best start to a season since 1998, when the Huskies won seven of their first eight … Connecticut leads the BIG EAST and is ranked third nationally in scoring defense (12.0 points allowed per game) … No team has scored more than 17 points against the Huskies this season … Junior QB Tyler Lorenzen has completed 104 of 169 passes for 1,259 yards and nine touchdowns … Lonrenzen ranks fourth in the BIG EAST in passing (209.8 yards per game) … Sophomore S Robert Vaughn leads the conference with five interceptions and has totaled 109 yards in returns … Junior K Tony Ciaravino leads all BIG EAST kickers, and is third among all players, in scoring, averaging 9.8 points per game … Senior Tyvon Branch is the top return man in the league with an average of 32.8 yards on kickoff returns.


PITTSBURGH vs. Cincinnati
Sat 10/20
Noon
ESPN Regional
Saturday's game will be the seventh meeting between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in a series that dates to 1921 … The Panthers have taken all six previous meetings, including a 38-20 win in 2005 in the only game played at Heinz Field … Last year's matchup — a 33-15 Pitt win — featured two long touchdown receptions by Panther WR Derek Kinder.

Cincinnati looks to rebound from its first loss of the season — a 28-24 setback to Louisville at Nippert Stadium … The Bearcats, who had forced 25 turnovers though their first six games, were not able to get a takeaway against the Cardinals … Cincinnati saw a nine-game winning streak come to an end … The Bearcats have won four straight road games and five straight away from Nippert Stadium (including the 2007 International Bowl in Toronto) … QB Ben Mauk has thrown 15 touchdown passes and ranks third in the BIG EAST in passing (226.3 yards per game) … The top receiver is freshman WR Marcus Barnett, who has a league-best eight touchdown receptions … The defense is paced by junior CB Mike Mickens, who has four interceptions … Junior P Kevin Huber — dubbed by coach Brian Kelly as the team's MVP —leads the nation with an average of 48.1 yards per punt.

The Panthers play the first of three nationally ranked opponents in their final six games with Saturday's matchup against Cincinnati … Pittsburgh is looking to avoid its first 0-2 start in the BIG EAST since 2001 … Saturday's game will be part of Pittsburgh's homecoming festivities … The Panthers are 25-11-1 in homecoming games … True freshman RB LeSean McCoy has been a bright spot for Pittsburgh … McCoy ranks second in the BIG EAST in rushing with an average of 111.3 yards per game … McCoy ranks second among all Bowl Subdivision freshmen on the national rushing chart and is 21st overall … McCoy has rushed for 668 yards and nine touchdowns in his rookie year … True freshman QB Pat Bostick, who has started the last three games, has completed 65 of 101 passes for 602 yards and three touchdowns … Junior LB Scott McKillop leads the BIG EAST with 11.8 tackles per game.


RUTGERS vs. South Florida
Thu 10/18
7:30 PM
ESPN
Thursday's game will be just the third meeting between Rutgers and USF with the series tied at 1-1 … Each team has won on the other's home field as the Scarlet Knights took a 22-20 decision in Tampa, Fla., last year, and USF was a 45-31 winner at Rutgers Stadium in 2006 … Last year's matchup saw Rutgers RB Ray Rice rush for 202 yards and two TDs, while Scarlet Knight K Jeremy Ito hit field goals of 32, 40 and 53 yards.

Rutgers evened its BIG EAST record at 1-1 with last Saturday's 38-14 win at Syracuse … The game against USF will be the Scarlet Knights' sixth home date of the season … Rutgers is 1-6 all-time against top-10 teams at Rutgers Stadium, though the lone win came last season, when the Scarlet Knights defeated No. 3 Louisville 28-25 … Junior RB Ray Rice is a rare running back who has enjoyed success against the USF defense —Rice ran for 158 yards against the Bulls two years ago before hitting for 202 yards and two TDs in last year's meeting … Rice was the last player to gain 100 yards against USF … Rice ranks second nationally in scoring (14.0 points per game) and is fifth in rushing in 2007 (136.3) … Thursday's game is the first of two straight home games against top-10 opponents for the Scarlet Knights, who host No. 7 West Virginia next Saturday.

USF is ranked No. 2 in the first BCS rankings released Sunday and is the top-rated team in the computer poll segment of the BCS … The No. 2 rank for USF in the Associated Press poll is the highest national ranking by a BIG EAST school since Miami (Fla.) was ranked No. 2 during the 2003 season … USF is 2-0 on the road this season with wins at Auburn (26-23, ot) and Florida Atlantic (35-23) … Sophomore DE George Selvie has set school records with 11.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss this season … Selvie leads the nation in both categories … Sophomore QB Matt Grothe ranks third in the BIG EAST in total offense (244.5 yards per game) after rushing for at least 100 yards in each of the last two games … Grothe had 312 yards of offense (212 passing, 100 rushing) in the win against Central Florida last Saturday … The USF defense has forced three or more turnovers four times this season … The Bulls held Central Florida's Kevin Smith — who was the nation's top rusher — to just 55 yards on the ground.


SOUTH FLORIDA at Rutgers
Thu 10/18
7:30 PM
ESPN
Thursday's game will be just the third meeting between Rutgers and USF with the series tied at 1-1 … Each team has won on the other's home field as the Scarlet Knights took a 22-20 decision in Tampa, Fla., last year, and USF was a 45-31 winner at Rutgers Stadium in 2006 … Last year's matchup saw Rutgers RB Ray Rice rush for 202 yards and two TDs, while Scarlet Knight K Jeremy Ito hit field goals of 32, 40 and 53 yards.

Rutgers evened its BIG EAST record at 1-1 with last Saturday's 38-14 win at Syracuse … The game against USF will be the Scarlet Knights' sixth home date of the season … Rutgers is 1-6 all-time against top-10 teams at Rutgers Stadium, though the lone win came last season, when the Scarlet Knights defeated No. 3 Louisville 28-25 … Junior RB Ray Rice is a rare running back who has enjoyed success against the USF defense —Rice ran for 158 yards against the Bulls two years ago before hitting for 202 yards and two TDs in last year's meeting … Rice was the last player to gain 100 yards against USF … Rice ranks second nationally in scoring (14.0 points per game) and is fifth in rushing in 2007 (136.3) … Thursday's game is the first of two straight home games against top-10 opponents for the Scarlet Knights, who host No. 7 West Virginia next Saturday.

USF is ranked No. 2 in the first BCS rankings released Sunday and is the top-rated team in the computer poll segment of the BCS … The No. 2 rank for USF in the Associated Press poll is the highest national ranking by a BIG EAST school since Miami (Fla.) was ranked No. 2 during the 2003 season … USF is 2-0 on the road this season with wins at Auburn (26-23, ot) and Florida Atlantic (35-23) … Sophomore DE George Selvie has set school records with 11.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss this season … Selvie leads the nation in both categories … Sophomore QB Matt Grothe ranks third in the BIG EAST in total offense (244.5 yards per game) after rushing for at least 100 yards in each of the last two games … Grothe had 312 yards of offense (212 passing, 100 rushing) in the win against Central Florida last Saturday … The USF defense has forced three or more turnovers four times this season … The Bulls held Central Florida's Kevin Smith — who was the nation's top rusher — to just 55 yards on the ground.


SYRACUSE vs. Buffalo
Sat 10/20
4:00 PM
ESPNU
Syracuse and Buffalo have met seven times on the gridiron, though none of the previous games between the schools took place during the 20th century … The series dates to 1896, with Buffalo going 3-0-1 against the Orange through 1899 … More recently, Syracuse has won three straight against the Bulls, winning in 2000, 2004 and 2005 to even the series at 3-3-1 … The most recent meeting saw Syracuse's Damien Rhodes rush for 236 yards in the Orange's 31-0 win.

Syracuse saw its BIG EAST record level at 1-1 following a 38-14 setback to Rutgers Saturday at the Carrier Dome … When he has been protected, sophomore QB Andrew Robinson has been solid behind center … Robinson has completed 98 of 187 passes for 1,403 yards and nine touchdowns and is averaging 200.4 passing yards per game … Syracuse quarterbacks have been sacked a league-high 29 times, however … Freshman KR Max Suter has made his mark in the Syracuse record book by returning seven kickoffs for a school-record 198 yards against Rutgers … Suter also holds the Orange's single-season record for return yards (784) … Suter ranks fifth among BIG EAST players in all-purpose yards (112.0 yards per game) … Sophomore WR Mike Williams has caught five touchdown passes and is ranked ninth in the BIG EAST in receiving yards (51.4 per game) … Senior S Joe Fields has been the top man on defense with a team-high 61 tackles and an average of 8.7 per game — good for fourth in the conference … Syracuse has scored exactly 14 points in each of its last three games.

The Bulls enter Saturday's game riding a two-game winning streak on the heels of a 43-33 win against Toledo last weekend … Buffalo stands tied for first place in the Mid-American Conference East Division with a 2-0 conference record … The other wins have come against Temple (42-7) and Ohio (31-10) … The four losses have been to Rutgers, Penn State, Baylor and Ball State … The Bulls are 1-3 on the road … Sophomore RB James Starks has rushed for 10 touchdowns following his 34-carry, 231-yard effort against Toledo … QB Drew Willy has completed 129 of 194 passes for 1,400 yards and seven TDs … WR Earnest Jackson has caught 28 passes for 409 yards and three touchdowns … The defense is paced by S Davont Shannon, who has a team-high 55 tackles … DL Trevor Scott has seven sacks and is ranked 10th nationally with 1.0 sacks per game … Scott also has 9.5 tackles for loss to go with three forced fumbles.


WEST VIRGINIA vs. Mississippi St
Sat 10/20
3:30 PM
ESPN Local
Saturday's game is the second meeting between West Virginia and Mississippi State … The Mountaineers won the only previous meeting when Rich Rodriguez's club took a 42-14 decision in Starkville, Miss., last year … Mountaineer RB Steve Slaton ran for 185 yards and a touchdown, and QB Patrick White rushed for 76 yards and two scores in last year's meeting.

West Virginia comes into Saturday's game following a bye week … The Mountaineers play just their third home game of the season —West Virginia is 2-0 at home with wins against Western Michigan and East Carolina … The Mountaineers are 5-0 when scoring more than 13 points … West Virginia hasn't allowed an opponent more than 24 points this season … The Mountaineer defense has forced 11 turnovers in the last four games … West Virginia is averaging 42.8 points per game, good for first in the BIG EAST and sixth nationally … Junior QB Patrick White is expected to be behind center after missing part of the last two games with injuries … White ranks sixth in the BIG EAST in rushing (68.5 yards per game) and has scored seven rushing touchdowns … White has also thrown seven TD passes with just one interception … Junior RB Steve Slaton ranks third in the conference in rushing (104.2 ypg) and has nine TDs on the ground … Senior WR Darius Reynaud has six touchdown receptions and is averaging 70.3 receiving yards per game.

The Bulldogs fell to 4-3 overall and 1-3 in the Southeastern Conference Saturday with a 33-21 loss to Tennessee in Starkville … Mississippi State has wins against Tulane, Auburn, Gardner-Webb and Alabama-Birmingham and losses to Louisiana State, South Carolina and Tennessee this season … The Bulldogs are 5-4 all-time against current members of the BIG EAST … Before last year's game against West Virginia, Mississippi State hadn't played a BIG EAST opponent in 20 years … The Bulldogs are 2-1 on the road this season … Freshman RB Arnil Stallworth was a high school teammate of West Virgina QB Patrick White … The Bulldogs average 22.9 points per game and have allowed an average of 25.0 points … A balanced offense has averaged 157.6 rushing yards and 143.7 passing yards … RB Anthony Dixon has rushed for 694 yards and 10 touchdowns on 164 carries and is averaging 99.1 yards per game … QB Wesley Carroll has completed 40 of 74 passes for 381 yards and two TDs.


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