Big East Preview: Week Two

West Virginia's date with East Carolina and Cincinnati's visit to Oklahoma highlights the second week of action for Big East teams in the 2008 football season.

CINCINNATI at Oklahoma
Sat 9/6
3:30 PM
Saturday's game will be the first meeting between Cincinnati and Oklahoma … Cincinnati is 7-7-1 all-time against the current Big 12 membership, defeating Kansas 34-7 Sept. 20, 1997, in the most recent matchup against that conference … Oklahoma is 18-3-1 against current BIG EAST teams, but fell to West Virginia 48-28 Jan. 2, 2008, in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in the last meeting against the BIG EAST.

Cincinnati has won three straight, dating to last season … The Bearcats were 40-7 winners against Eastern Kentucky last Thursday at Nippert Stadium … Cincinnati is expected to have All-America DT Terrill Byrd and starting OG Khalil El Amin back against Oklahoma … Byrd missed the season-opener against Eastern Kentucky for disciplinary reasons, while El Amin was out due to illness … QB Dustin Grutza hit career highs of 296 passing yards and three touchdown passes against Eastern Kentucky … WR Dominick Goodman had 10 catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns against Eastern Kentucky, moving into third place on Cincinnati's career receptions chart (170) … Senior DE Connor Barwin registered five tackles and a sack against Eastern Kentucky in his first game as a defensive player … Barwin had been a tight end for three seasons … K Brandon Yingling is expected to handle the placekicking duties against Oklahoma after coming off the bench last week.

Oklahoma had an easy time in its opener as the Sooners enjoyed a 57-2 win against Chattanooga Saturday in Norman … Oklahoma had a 50-0 lead at halftime … The Sooners have won 19 consecutive home games, with the last loss at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium a 17-10 setback to Texas Christian Sept. 3, 2005 … The Sooners limited Chattanooga to two first downs and had a 487-36 advantage in total yards … Twelve different Oklahoma players had at least one catch … The game against Chattanooga lasted four hours, nine minutes, thanks to a 1:12 weather delay … QB Sam Bradford completed 17 of 22 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns in the opener against Chattanooga … Bradford threw 36 touchdown passes last season, setting an NCAA freshman record … RB DeMarco Murray ran for 124 yards and two TDs, while WR Manuel Johnson had 120 receiving yards on nine catches … DE Auston English, an All-Big 12 First Team selection last year, had 2.5 sacks and four tackles for loss against Chattanooga … Four of Oklahoma's last seven losses have come on the final play of the game.

Sat 9/6
Saturday's game will be the 11th meeting between Connecticut and Temple in a series that dates to 1963 … Temple holds a 7-3 series lead, though Connecticut has won the last two meetings … The Huskies were 22-17 winners at Rentschler Field Sept. 15, 2007 in the most recent matchup behind two Donald Brown rushing touchdowns and three Tony Ciaravino field goals.

Connecticut has won its last 12 games against the teams that currently comprise the Mid-American Conference … The Huskies are 1-0 after a 35-3 win against Hofstra last Thursday at Rentschler Field … The Huskies' balanced offense produced 218 rushing yards and 233 passing yards in the win against the Pride … RB Andre Dixon, who did not play against Hofstra, is expected to be back in the lineup against Temple … RB Donald Brown shouldered the load with 144 rushing yards and four TDs … Brown had 130 yards and all four scores by halftime for his seventh career 100-yard game … Connecticut, which committed just 15 turnovers last season, had five giveaways (three interceptions, two lost fumbles) against Hofstra … QB Tyler Lorenzen completed 14 of 25 passes for 184 yards … Freshman QB Cody Endres came off the bench to complete 4 of 5 passes for 49 yards … Eight different players caught at least one pass for the Huskies … WR Ellis Gaulden had four receptions for 62 yards … The Huskies will play the second of four straight games on natural grass when they face Temple.

Temple enters Saturday's game at 1-0 following a 35-7 win against Army at Michie Stadium last Friday … The Owls won their first season-opener since the 2002 season (34-7 against Richmond) … It was the first road win in a season-opener since a 17-6 win against Navy in 2000 … The seven points allowed are the fewest surrendered by the Owls since a 38-7 win against Florida A&M Sept. 18, 2004 … Temple scored touchdowns on a running play, two passing plays, a fumble return and a kickoff return against Army … After going a combined 1-22 in 2005 and 2006, the Owls improved to 4-8 in 2007 in head coach Al Golden's second year … Temple lost just two letterwinners from last year's team and returns all 22 starters from the offense and defense … Temple is the only team the nation that returns all of its starters from the previous season … QB Adam DiMichelle completed 15 of 22 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns with one interception in the win against Army … DE Junior Galette made a team-high 11 tackles against the Black Knights … Temple competed as a BIG EAST member from 1991 to 2004.

LOUISVILLE vs. Tenn. Tech
Sat 9/6
3:30 PM
Big East Network
Saturday's game marks the renewal of a series that produced two games in the early 1960s … Each school defended its home field in the brief series, with Louisville's 29-13 win at Cardinal Stadium Sept. 16, 1961 standing as the most recent matchup.

Louisville enters Saturday's game at 0-1 following a 27-2 loss to Kentucky for the Governor's Cup at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium … The Cardinals were within a touchdown and two-point conversion of the Wildcats midway through the fourth quarter before Kentucky scored 17 unanswered points to close the game … The Cardinals' last four possessions ended in turnovers … Louisville's defense, which allowed an average of 416.5 yards per game last season, held Kentucky to just 210 yards … Saturday's game is the second of four straight home games for Louisville to open the season … QB Hunter Cantwell, who replaces BIG EAST career passing leader Brian Brohm behind center, completed 20 of 43 passes for 152 yards and three interceptions … WR Doug Beaumont had game-highs of nine receptions for 77 yards … The Cardinals enjoy a bye week following the Tennessee Tech game and return to action Wednesday, Sept. 17 against Kansas State at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

Tennessee Tech began its season with a 28-12 win against Gardner-Webb Saturday in Cookeville, Tenn. … The Golden Eagles were on the short end in first downs (20-18), total yards (280-262) and turnovers (1-0), but held Gardner-Webb to just two scores in five red zone visits … Tennessee Tech has finished 4-7 in each of the last three seasons … The last game against a Bowl Subdivision opponent was a 35-3 setback at Auburn … QB Lee Sweeney completed 19 of 31 passes for 199 yards and one touchdown against one interception … RB Henry Sailes was the primary beneficiary as he caught 10 passes for 78 yards … Sailes also finished as the Golden Eagles' leading rusher, but had just 26 yards on 10 carries … Sailes added 67 yards on a pair of kickoff returns to finish with 171 all-purpose yards … SS Maurice Smith finished with 14 tackles and three pass breakups against Gardner-Webb to lead three Tennessee Tech players with double-digit tackles … Tennessee Tech's football alumni includes former Los Angeles Rams standout Jim Youngblood.

PITTSBURGH vs. Buffalo
Sat 9/6
6:00 PM
Big East Network
Saturday's game will be the first meeting between Pittsburgh and Buffalo … The Panthers are a combined 51-10-1 all-time against current members of the Mid-American Conference.

Pittsburgh lost an early 14-0 lead as the Panthers fell 27-17 to Bowling Green last Saturday … The Panthers are looking to avoid just their fourth 0-2 start in the last 36 years — only the 1972, 1984 and 2005 teams started seasons with two straight losses … Pittsburgh scored the first 14 points of the game against Bowling Green, but was kept off the scoreboard in the second half … RBs LeSean McCoy and LaRod Stephens-Howling both finished with 71 rushing yards against Bowling Green … McCoy had 45 receiving yards to finish with a team-high 116 all-purpose yards … Five different Pittsburgh players had at least five receptions … The Panthers attempted 51 passes against Bowling Green, marking the most attempts since Sept. 22, 2007 against Connecticut, when Pitt also threw 51 passes … K Conor Lee remains perfect in his career (77 for 77) on PATs … LB Scott McKillop had six tackles and two pass breakups … McKillop finds himself in the unusual situation of looking at someone's name ahead of his on Pitt's tackles chart as DB Austin Ransom had seven stops to go with an interception … The Panthers had four turnovers against Bowling Green, losing three fumbles with one interception.

Buffalo has made the transition from a perennial bottom-feeder to a legitimate contender in the Mid-American Conference under second-year head coach Turner Gill, the former Nebraska standout … The Bulls won two games in Gill's first year and improved to 5-7 in 2007 … Buffalo went 4-2 in the MAC East Division, finishing tied with Miami (Ohio) and Bowling Green for first in the division … Buffalo is off to a 1-0 start in 2008 following a 42-17 win against Texas-El Paso last Thursday in Buffalo … The Bulls had a 484-266 advantage in total yards … Buffalo had a pair of 100-yard rushers in RBs James Starks and Brandon Thermilus … Starks had 179 yards on 31 carries, while Thermilus had 102 yards and two touchdowns on 16 attempts … Neither back was stopped for a loss in 47 combined attempts … QB Drew Willy completed 10 of 16 passes for 221 yards and four touchdowns, with WR Naaman Roosevelt catching four passes for 154 yards and two scores … Willy was chosen as the MAC East Offensive Player of the Week … LB Justin Winters had 10 tackles to go with a sack and an interception.

Next vs. North Carolina
Thu 9/11

Sat 9/6
7:00 PM
USF is 3-0 in its series with Central Florida, which began in the 2005 season … Last year's matchup saw the Bulls roll to a 64-12 win in Tampa Oct. 13, 2007, bumping USF to the No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings the following day … USF QB Matt Grothe rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 212 yards and two TDs … The schools are located less than 100 miles apart … The first three games of the series has produced crowds of at least 45,000 each time.

USF had perhaps the most impressive opening weekend in the BIG EAST as the Bulls wasted little time in running away with a 56-7 win against Tennessee- Martin Saturday at Raymond James Stadium … USF held a 28-0 after a first quarter in which it faced just one third down and had an average starting field position of the Tennessee Martin 45-yard line …Twelve different players had at least one rushing attempt, three different players completed passes, seven had at least one reception and 24 had at least one tackle … QB Matt Grothe played sparingly after the first quarter and finished the day 6-for-8 for 96 yards and two touchdowns … RB Benjamin Williams had a game-high 70 rushing yards on just six carries, averaging 11.7 yards per attempt … The Bulls punted just once on 16 possessions … If there was a trouble spot, it was four turnovers, including three lost fumbles … The USF defense limited Tennessee-Martin to nine drives of three plays or fewer.

Central Florida began the 2008 season with a 17-0 win against South Carolina State at Bright House Network Stadium … The Knights held the Bulldogs to 126 total yards, marking the best defensive performance under fifth-year head coach George O'Leary … UCF has won seven straight home games, tying for the eighth-longest active streak in the nation … The Knights are 0-10 all-time against the current BIG EAST configuration … UCF is 0-17 alltime against ranked teams … The Knights nearly defeated then-No. 6 Texas, falling 35-32 in the debut of Bright House Network Stadium Sept. 15, 2007 … That loss stands as the only setback in the year-old facility … The Knights held South Carolina State to just five first downs, 52 rushing yards and 74 passing yards … UCF's offense featured 59 running plays and 16 passing plays … QB Michael Greco completed 9 of 16 passes for 90 yards and ruan for 57 yards on 13 carries … RB Latavius Murray accounted for both UCF touchdowns as part of his 11 carries.

SYRACUSE vs. Akron
Sat 9/6
Time Warner
Syracuse and Akron meet for the first time Saturday … Syracuse is one of two BIG EAST opponents on Akron's schedule (Cincinnati being the other) … Akron is 2-11 against the current BIG EAST membership, most recently falling 44-10 at Connecticut Sept. 29, 2007.

Syracuse is the only BIG EAST school that did not have a home game last week, making Saturday's game with Akron the home-opener … Syracuse has dropped five of its last six home openers … The Orange fell 30-10 to Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., last week … Syracuse held a 10-9 lead midway through the third quarter before the Wildcats scored 21 unanswered points to close the game … The Orange rushed for 96 yards in the first half last week, but had just 26 rushing yards in the second half … RB Curtis Brinkley, who missed the last four games of the 2008 season with a recurring knee injury, returned to score the Orange's lone touchdown against Northwestern … Brinkley averaged 5.4 yards per carry, finishing with 49 yards against Northwestern … P Rob Long averaged 47.1 yards on seven punts and hit a 72-yard kick on his first attempt … SS A.J. Brown had 11 tackles and an interception against Northwestern to pace the Orange defense … DE Vincenzo Giruzzi had nine tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup … The game against Akron begins a stretch of four straight home games for Syracuse.

Akron is looking for its first win of the season after the Zips fell 38-17 to No. 12 Wisconsin Saturday in Madison, Wis. … Akron trailed by three at halftime (17-10) before Wisconsin scored three straight second-half touchdowns … Akron was picked seventh in the East Division of the Mid-American Conference preseason poll … All seven teams in the East Division received at least two of the 36 first-place votes in the presason poll … Akron was 4-8 overall and 3-5 in the MAC last season … Akron gained 297 yards against Wisconsin and was 3-for-3 in red zone opportunities with two touchdowns … QB Chris Jacquemain completed 22 of 36 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns without an interception against the Badgers … WR Deryn Bowser caught five passes for 76 yards … The Zips only forced one Wisconsin punt, however, and allowed 404 rushing yards to the Badgers … FS Tyler Campbell made a team-high 18 tackles … Akron head coach J.D. Brookhart was an assistant coach at Pittsburgh from 1997-2003, including three seasons as offensive coordinator … The Zips will open the new InfoCision Stadium next season.

WEST VIRGINIA at East Carolina
Sat 9/6
3:30 PM
West Virginia is 17-2 all-time against East Carolina and has won the last seven meetings between the schools … The Mountaineers were 48-7 winners in Morgantown last season behind a four-touchdown effort (two passing, two rushing) by QB Pat White … White completed 18 of 20 passes for 181 yards and rushed for 42 yards on nine carries … West Virignia is 5-2 against East Carolina away from Morgantown.

West Virginia is 1-0 following a 48-21 win against Villanova at Milan Puskar Stadium … The Mountaineers broke open a 14-7 game with 20 consecutive points through the second and third quarters … The catalyst was QB Pat White, who threw a career-high five touchdown passes while completing 25 of 33 attempts for 208 yards … White also had a game-high 63 rushing yards on nine carries … White finished with career highs in passing attempts, completions and touchdown passes … The five TD passes are a Mountaineer Field record and were one shy of West Virginia's school record, set by Marc Bulger against Pittsburgh in 1998 … WR Jock Sanders finished with 144 all-purpose yards against Villanova and was the Mountaineers' top receiver with 62 yards and two touchdowns on eight receptions … LB Reed Williams, the normal starter at middle linebacker, is expected to be back in the lineup against East Carolina after he missed the Villanova game while recovering from shoulder surgery … The game at East Carolina is the first of back-to-back road games for the Mountaineers, who face Colorado Sept. 18 in Boulder, Colo.

East Carolina had one of the more notable wins of the opening weekend when the Pirates stunned No. 17/15 Virginia Tech 27-22 in Charlotte, N.C. … East Carolina overcame a nine-point deficit in the last 3:36 … The Pirates' T.J. Lee blocked a Hokie punt and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown with 1:52 left in the fourth quarter to put East Carolina on top … The Pirates went 8-5 last year, capped by a 41-38 win against Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl … East Carolina endured a 1-11 season in 2003 and was 2-9 in 2004 before reeling off 5-6, 7-6 and 8-5 records in three years under Skip Holtz … Holtz was head coach at Connecticut from 1994-98 … QB Patrick Pinkney completed 19 of 23 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown against Virginia Tech … LB Pierre Bell had 11 tackles against the Hokies.

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