Big East Preview: Week Five

The Big East begins league play as four teams square off in the first conference games of the 2008 season.


CINCINNATI at Akron
Sat 9/27
3:30 PM
Fox Sports Ohio
Saturday's game will be the fifth meeting between in-state rivals Cincinnati and Akron … Each school has won twice in the brief rivalry, with the Bearcats taking the most recent matchup 20-14 in 2006 … That game saw Akron jump to a 14-0 first-quarter lead before Cincinnati scored 20 unanswered points in the last three periods … QB Dustin Grutza threw for 230 yards and ran for 72.

Brian Kelly's 150th head coaching victory came in impressive fashion as Cincinnati improved to 2-1 with a 45-20 win against Miami (Ohio) last Saturday … QB Tony Pike made his first career start and completed 20 of 24 passes for 241 yards and three touchdowns against the RedHawks … Pike became the third different starting quarterback in Cincinnati's last four games, dating to last season … Still, the offense hasn't missed a beat, as the Bearcats have averaged 420.3 yards in that stretch … The constant in the offense has been the play of Cincinnati's wide receivers … WR Dominick Goodman leads the BIG EAST in receiving yards (99.3 ypg) and WR Mardy Gilyard is second (96.3 ypg) … The two are tied for the BIG EAST lead with three touchdown receptions each … Cincinnati leads the BIG EAST in scoring (37.0 ppg) and passing (276.0 ypg) … The offense has been so effective that Cincinnati has punted just 10 times and attempted just one field goal in three games … DE Connor Barwin is tied for the BIG EAST lead with three sacks.

Akron got back to .500 with a 22-3 win at Army last Saturday … The Zips' other win also came on the road when Akron was a 42-28 winner at Syracuse … The two losses have been to a pair of unbeaten teams in Wisconsin (38- 17) and Ball State (41-24) … Akron is 0-1 in the Mid-American Conference … The Zips are led offensively by QB Chris Jacquemain, who has thrown for 960 yards and seven touchdowns on 58.8-percent passing (77-for-131) … RB Alex Allen has scored three rushing touchdowns as part of the threeman rotation in the Akron backfield … WR Andre Jones has a team-high four touchdown receptions … Akron leads the MAC in pass defense (143.2 yards per game) … The Zips are +4 in turnover margin and lead the MAC in that category as well … DB Tyler Campbell is ranked sixth in the MAC in tackles (9.2 tpg) … CB Miguel Graham has three fumble recoveries … Akron has played three of its first four games on the road … DB Bryan Williams is ranked 10th nationally in kickoff returns (32.6 ypr).


CONNECTICUT at Louisville
Fri 9/26
8:00 PM
ESPN2
Connecticut and Louisville meet for the fifth time, with the Cardinals holding a 3-1 series lead … Louisville took the first three meetings before the Huskies claimed a 21-17 decision last season at Rentschler Field … That game saw Connecticut RB Andre Dixon rush for 115 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown with 1:32 left in the fourth quarter.

Connecticut is 4-0 for the second straight year following a 31-28 win against Baylor at Rentschler Field last Friday … The Huskies have won 10 straight home games, but take to the road for the second time this season … Connecticut has outscored its opponents by a 49-10 margin in the second quarter and 123-50 overall … The Huskies rank sixth nationally in rushing (279.5 yards per game) and 15th in scoring defense (12.5 ppg) … The catalyst on offense has been RB Donald Brown, who has played himself squarely into Heisman Trophy candidacy … Brown leads the nation in rushing, averaging 179.0 yards per game, and has rushed for at least 150 yards in each of the last three games … Brown has accounted for 10 of Connecticut's 16 touchdowns … QB Tyler Lorenzen has completed 50 of 85 passes for 519 yards and one touchdown against six interceptions … LB Scott Lutrus is ranked sixth in the BIG EAST in tackles (8.0 per game) … DE Cody Brown and LB Lindsey Witten have three sacks each.

Louisville has won two straight after dropping its season-opener and enters Saturday's game on the heels of a 38-29 win against Kansas State Sept. 17 … The Cardinals rank second nationally in rushing defense (42.0 yards per game), making for an intriguing battle against Connecticut's sixth-ranked rushing offense (279.5 ypg) … Louisville boasts one of the better young players in the BIG EAST in RB Victor Anderson, who is averaging 107.0 rushing yards per game and has four TDs … Anderson has registered two 100-yard games in his first three collegiate appearances and is ranked second in the BIG EAST in rushing … WR Doug Beaumont is averaging a BIG EAST-leading 7.7 receptions per game … Beaumont has 23 catches for 279 yards … QB Hunter Cantwell has completed 59 of 99 passes for 629 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions … CB Woodny Turenne has a team- and BIG EASTbest two interceptions … Louisville has allowed 39 fourth-quarter points, but just 27 points in the other three quarters combined … The Cardinals have rushed for 590 yards and allowed just 126 yards on the ground.


LOUISVILLE vs. Connecticut
Fri 9/26
8:00 PM
ESPN2
Connecticut and Louisville meet for the fifth time, with the Cardinals holding a 3-1 series lead … Louisville took the first three meetings before the Huskies claimed a 21-17 decision last season at Rentschler Field … That game saw Connecticut RB Andre Dixon rush for 115 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown with 1:32 left in the fourth quarter.

Connecticut is 4-0 for the second straight year following a 31-28 win against Baylor at Rentschler Field last Friday … The Huskies have won 10 straight home games, but take to the road for the second time this season … Connecticut has outscored its opponents by a 49-10 margin in the second quarter and 123-50 overall … The Huskies rank sixth nationally in rushing (279.5 yards per game) and 15th in scoring defense (12.5 ppg) … The catalyst on offense has been RB Donald Brown, who has played himself squarely into Heisman Trophy candidacy … Brown leads the nation in rushing, averaging 179.0 yards per game, and has rushed for at least 150 yards in each of the last three games … Brown has accounted for 10 of Connecticut's 16 touchdowns … QB Tyler Lorenzen has completed 50 of 85 passes for 519 yards and one touchdown against six interceptions … LB Scott Lutrus is ranked sixth in the BIG EAST in tackles (8.0 per game) … DE Cody Brown and LB Lindsey Witten have three sacks each.

Louisville has won two straight after dropping its season-opener and enters Saturday's game on the heels of a 38-29 win against Kansas State Sept. 17 … The Cardinals rank second nationally in rushing defense (42.0 yards per game), making for an intriguing battle against Connecticut's sixth-ranked rushing offense (279.5 ypg) … Louisville boasts one of the better young players in the BIG EAST in RB Victor Anderson, who is averaging 107.0 rushing yards per game and has four TDs … Anderson has registered two 100-yard games in his first three collegiate appearances and is ranked second in the BIG EAST in rushing … WR Doug Beaumont is averaging a BIG EAST-leading 7.7 receptions per game … Beaumont has 23 catches for 279 yards … QB Hunter Cantwell has completed 59 of 99 passes for 629 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions … CB Woodny Turenne has a team- and BIG EASTbest two interceptions … Louisville has allowed 39 fourth-quarter points, but just 27 points in the other three quarters combined … The Cardinals have rushed for 590 yards and allowed just 126 yards on the ground.


PITTSBURGH at Syracuse
Sat 9/27
Noon
Big East Network
Pittsburgh and Syracuse have met 63 times since 1916 and the series is tied at 30-30-3 … The Panthers have taken the last three, including a 20-17 win at Heinz Field last season … Syracuse won 11 straight in BIG EAST play (1991-2004), but Pitt has countered with five wins in the last six games … Pittsburgh running back LeSean McCoy ran for 140 yards and a touchdown last year, while Syracuse was paced by QB Cameron Dantley, who threw for 189 yards and two TDs off the bench … This year marks the first time Pitt and Syracuse open BIG EAST play against each other … Pittsburgh and Syracuse are two of the nation's nine teams that have scored on all of their red zone chances this season … Pittsburgh RB Kevin Collier is the older brother of Syracuse RB Averin Collier … Pittsburgh and Syracuse both have the rest of the BIG EAST and Notre Dame on their remaining schedules.

Pittsburgh is 5-5 in its last 10 BIG EAST openers and 6-9 all-time … The Panthers won for the second straight week, defeating Iowa 21-20 … Pitt plays its first road game of the season with the trip to the Carrier Dome … Pittsburgh is 4-9-1 all-time in the Carrier Dome, but has won twice in its last three visits … Running backs coach David Walker was an All-BIG EAST running back at Syracuse and spent nine years on the Orange coaching staff … RB LeSean McCoy has rushed for five touchdowns and is averaging 80.7 yards per game on the ground … McCoy ranks second in the BIG EAST in scoring (10.0 ppg) … QB Bill Stull has completed 62 of 109 passes for 634 yards and one touchdown … LB Scott McKillop is tied for the BIG EAST lead in tackles (10.3 per game).

Syracuse picked up its first win of the season with a 30-21 decision against Northeastern … QB Cameron Dantley has thrown five touchdown passes — good for second in the BIG EAST … Dantley has completed 40 of 69 passes for 412 yards … RB Curtis Brinkley is ranked fifth in the BIG EAST in rushing (89.5 ypg) … Brinkley ran for a career-high 145 yards on 24 carries in the win against Northeastern … K Patrick Shadle is tied for the BIG EAST in scoring by placekickers … Shadle has hit 6 of 7 field goals and is 9-for-9 on PATs … Shadle's average of 1.5 field goals per game also leads the BIG EAST … P Rob Long is atop the BIG EAST punting chart with a 47.8-yard average … Syracuse will recognize former Orange standout and Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Monk during the Pittsburgh game … Syracuse has two byes in its next four weeks, with road trips to West Virginia and USF in between.


RUTGERS vs. Morgan State
Sat 9/27
3:30 PM
Big East Local
Rutgers and Morgan State meet for the third time Saturday … Rutgers is 2-0 against the Bears, having defeated Morgan State 27-8 in 1971 and 37- 14 in 1972 … Rutgers has won its last three games against Championship Subdivision opponents by a combined score of 153-13.

Rutgers finds itself in unfamiliar territory as the Scarlet Knights are winless through three games for the first time in head coach Greg Schiano's tenure … The last 0-3 start for Rutgers was in 1999 … RB Jourdan Brooks made his first career start in the loss to Navy and finished with 134 rushing yards on 22 carries … Brooks' total is good for second in Rutgers history among players making their first career starts … Brooks ranks seventh in the BIG EAST in rushing (58.7 ypg) … Both of Brooks' parents are graduates of Morgan State … WR Kenny Britt ranks third in the BIG EAST in receptions (7.0 rpg) and is fourth in receiving yards (87.3 ypg) … WRs Kevin Brock and Tiquan Underwood are likewise both ranked among the BIG EAST top 10 in both receptions and receiving yards … QB Mike Teel is second in the BIG EAST in passing (212.3 ypg) … LB Kevin Malast is averaging 9.0 tackles per game, good for third in the BIG EAST … LB Ryan D'Imperio is tied for fourth in tackles (8.3 tpg) … Rutgers has not forced a turnover through three games and is -8 in turnover margin for the season.

Morgan State improved to 2-1 with a 21-7 win at Winston-Salem State Sept. 20 … The Bears dropped a 21-16 decision to Towson in their season opener, but defeated North Carolina Central (49-7) in Week 2 … The start marks the first time since 1997 that Morgan State has won two of its first three games … LB Troy Leftwich was named the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week … Leftwich had six tackles, a fumble recovery and a 45- yard interception return for a touchdown in the win against Winston-Salem State … RB Devan James has averaged 129.7 yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry … QB Carlton Jackson has completed 26 of 47 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions … The Bears are 0-for-3 on field goal attempts this season … Morgan State has outscored its opponents 49-0 in the second quarter and 65-7 in the first half … Morgan State has four Pro Football Hall of Famers among its alumni (Roosevelt Brown, Willie Lanier, Len Ford, Leroy Kelly) … The Bears boast an impressive history that includes a 54-game unbeaten streak (47-0-7) from 1931-38 and a 31-game winning streak from 1965-68.


SOUTH FLORIDA At N.C. State
Sat 9/27
5:00 PM
ESPNU
USF and North Carolina State meet for just the second time Saturday … The Wolfpack were 14-0 winners against the Bulls Dec. 31, 2005 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., in the first bowl game in USF's history.

USF didn't win style points with last Saturday's 17-9 win at Florida International, but the Bulls remain unbeaten nonetheless after winning for the seventh time in the last eight games, dating to last season … USF will play on the road for the third time in the last four games … The Bulls have won four straight road games … Saturday's game will be USF's first outside the state of Florida this season … USF has won its first four games for the third time in school history (1998, 2007, 2008) … USF is averaging 450.5 yards per game, good for 19th nationally … Thirteen different players have at least one rushing attempt for USF … The Bulls average 190.5 yards per game on the ground, but the leading back — RB Jamar Taylor — averages 44.5 ypg … QB Matt Grothe has completed 75 of 115 passes for 916 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions … Grothe leads the BIG EAST in total offense (266.8 ypg), passing yards (229.0 ypg) and pass efficiency (148.7) … WR Taurus Johnson leads a deep group of receivers with 231 yards on 16 receptions, including two touchdowns … LB Tyrone McKenzie has a team-high 26 tackles … After being held without a sack through the first two games, DE George Selvie, who had 14.5 sacks last year, has brought down the quarterback in back-to-back games.

The Wolfpack evened their record at 2-2 following a 30-24 overtime victory against No. 15 East Carolina Saturday … North Carolina State announced that QB Russell Wilson will not play against USF after he suffered an undisclosed injury in the second half against East Carolina … Wilson was named the ACC Offensive Back of the Week after he completed 21 of 31 passes for 210 yards and three TDs against East Carolina … QB Harrison Beck, who started four games last season, will start in Wilson's place and will be the third different starting quarterback this season … Beck has completed 25 of 44 passes for 353 yards and two TDs with three interceptions … LB Nate Irving, who leads the Wolfpack in tackles (33), also will miss the game against USF with a lower leg injury … North Carolina State is 2-0 at home and 0-2 on the road … The wins have been against William & Mary and East Carolina, while the losses came to South Carolina and Clemson.


SYRACUSE vs. Pitt
Sat 9/27
Noon
Big East Network
Pittsburgh and Syracuse have met 63 times since 1916 and the series is tied at 30-30-3 … The Panthers have taken the last three, including a 20-17 win at Heinz Field last season … Syracuse won 11 straight in BIG EAST play (1991-2004), but Pitt has countered with five wins in the last six games … Pittsburgh running back LeSean McCoy ran for 140 yards and a touchdown last year, while Syracuse was paced by QB Cameron Dantley, who threw for 189 yards and two TDs off the bench … This year marks the first time Pitt and Syracuse open BIG EAST play against each other … Pittsburgh and Syracuse are two of the nation's nine teams that have scored on all of their red zone chances this season … Pittsburgh RB Kevin Collier is the older brother of Syracuse RB Averin Collier … Pittsburgh and Syracuse both have the rest of the BIG EAST and Notre Dame on their remaining schedules.

Pittsburgh is 5-5 in its last 10 BIG EAST openers and 6-9 all-time … The Panthers won for the second straight week, defeating Iowa 21-20 … Pitt plays its first road game of the season with the trip to the Carrier Dome … Pittsburgh is 4-9-1 all-time in the Carrier Dome, but has won twice in its last three visits … Running backs coach David Walker was an All-BIG EAST running back at Syracuse and spent nine years on the Orange coaching staff … RB LeSean McCoy has rushed for five touchdowns and is averaging 80.7 yards per game on the ground … McCoy ranks second in the BIG EAST in scoring (10.0 ppg) … QB Bill Stull has completed 62 of 109 passes for 634 yards and one touchdown … LB Scott McKillop is tied for the BIG EAST lead in tackles (10.3 per game).

Syracuse picked up its first win of the season with a 30-21 decision against Northeastern … QB Cameron Dantley has thrown five touchdown passes — good for second in the BIG EAST … Dantley has completed 40 of 69 passes for 412 yards … RB Curtis Brinkley is ranked fifth in the BIG EAST in rushing (89.5 ypg) … Brinkley ran for a career-high 145 yards on 24 carries in the win against Northeastern … K Patrick Shadle is tied for the BIG EAST in scoring by placekickers … Shadle has hit 6 of 7 field goals and is 9-for-9 on PATs … Shadle's average of 1.5 field goals per game also leads the BIG EAST … P Rob Long is atop the BIG EAST punting chart with a 47.8-yard average … Syracuse will recognize former Orange standout and Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Monk during the Pittsburgh game … Syracuse has two byes in its next four weeks, with road trips to West Virginia and USF in between.


WEST VIRGINIA vs. Marshall
Sat 9/27
3:30 PM
Big East Local
West Virginia and Marshall have met just seven times in a series that dates to 1911 … The Mountaineers have won all seven previous meetings … Last year's game saw the Mountaineers ride two 100-yard rushing efforts (Steve Slaton had 146 and Pat White had 125) to a 48-23 win in Huntington, W.Va. … Five of the seven games have been played in Morgantown.

West Virginia fell to 1-2 with Thursday's 17-14 overtime loss at Colorado … The last time the Mountaineers had two losses in their first three games was the 2003 season, when West Virginia was 1-4 through five games … The Mountaineers went on to finish 8-5 that year and share the BIG EAST championship with Miami at 6-1 in the conference … West Virginia has two of the top four runners in the BIG EAST in QB Pat White and RB Noel Devine … White ranks third in the conference at 102.7 yards per game, while Devine is fourth at 91.3 ypg … White also is second in the BIG EAST in pass efficiency (134.8) … He has completed 46 of 65 passes for 323 yards and five touchdowns with one interception … S Quinton Andrews is tied for the BIG EAST lead in tackles (10.3 per game) … LB John Holmes has a BIG EAST-leading three sacks and two forced fumbles … LB Reed Williams made his first appearance of the season against Colorado and had six tackles, an interception and a pass breakup.

Marshall plays the first of back-to-back games against BIG EAST opponents when the Thundering Herd faces West Virginia … Marshall hosts Cincinnati Oct. 3 … The Herd are off to a 3-1 start following a 34-27 win at Southern Mississippi Saturday … The other wins were against Illinois State (35-10) and Memphis (17-16), while the lone setback was a 51-14 loss at Wisconsin … Marshall held a 14-0 lead against the then-11th-ranked Badgers before Wisconsin caught fire … The Herd are 3-1 despite allowing more yards (1,707-1,536) and more first downs (92-71) than their opponents and being -2 in turnovers for the season … QB Mark Cann has completed 61 of 144 passes for 824 yards and five touchdowns … RB Darius Marshall is averaging 104.2 rushing yards per game and has scored four TDs on the ground … WR Darius Passmore has caught four of Marshall's five touchdown passes and has also run for a score … Marshall has already matched last season's win total (3-9) … The Thundering Herd is 6-3 in their last nine games, dating to last season.


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