Big East Preview: 10/2-10/4

As the calendar turns to October, important conference matchups begin dotting the calendar. This week, it's Pittsburgh and South Florida in a battle for early league supremacy.


CINCINNATI at Marshall
Fri 10/3
8:00 PM
ESPN
Friday's game will be the 12th meeting between Cincinnati and Marshall in a series that dates to the 1906 season … It will be the fourth meeting since 2000 … The other seven games were played between 1906 and 1946 … Last year's game featured a touchdown receptions from WR Marcus Barnett from two different quarterbacks as Cincinnati rolled to a 40-14 win at Nippert Stadium … Bearcat QB Dustin Grutza threw two TD passes in relief of starter Ben Mauk, who went down with an injury.

Cincinnati, which saw its first three games were decided by an average of 28 points, pulled out a two-point decision at Akron last Saturday to improve to 3-1 … The 17 points were the fewest in a Bearcat win since a 17-3 decision against Syracuse Oct. 28, 2006 … Cincinnati will start its fourth different quarterback in its last five games, dating to last season, following the arm injury sustained by Tony Pike against Akron … Freshman Zach Collaros finished the Akron game and will take first-team reps this week with freshman Chazz Anderson … Whoever starts behind center will have the luxury of a deep group of receivers, led by WR Mardy Gilyard, who leads the BIG EAST in receiving yards (108.8 yards per game) and WR Dominick Goodman, who ranks second (97.2 ypg) … Gilyard has a BIG EAST-leading five touchdown receptions and has at least one TD in all four games … Cincinnati is averaging 425.5 yards of offense — as a result, the Bearcats have punted just 13 times and attempted just two field goals this season.

Marshall plays the second of back-to-back games against BIG EAST opponents when the Thundering Herd faces Cincinnati … The Herd fell 27-3 at West Virginia last Saturday in the annual Friends of Coal Bowl … The only other setback came at Wisconsin Sept. 6, when Marshall held a 14-0 lead, but saw the Badgers score 51 unanswered points … The wins have come against Illinois State (35-10), Memphis (17-16), and Southern Mississippi (34-27) … Marshall is 2-0 in Conference USA for the first time … Marshall was held to just 39 rushing yards and 158 total yards against the Mountaineers … QB Mark Cann has completed 76 of 150 passes for 943 yards and five touchdowns … RB Darius Marshall is averaging 92.2 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).


CONNECTICUT at North Carolina
Sat 10/4
7:00 PM
Saturday's game is just the second meeting on the gridiron between Connecticut and North Carolina … The only previous game was a Sept. 15, 1990 matchup in Chapel Hill, where the Tar Heels took a 48-21 win … It will be Connecticut's second game this season against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent — the Huskies were 45-10 winners against Virginia Sept. 13. It, likewise, is North Carolina's second game against a BIG EAST opponent as the Tar Heels defeated Rutgers 44-12 Sept. 11.

Connecticut was the first team in the nation to reach five wins and the Huskies have since been joined by six other teams at 5-0 … The Huskies, who earned their first top-25 ranking as a Bowl Subdivision member last season, entered both national polls this week, standing at No. 24 in the AP poll and No. 23 in the USA Today coaches ranking … Connecticut spent four weeks in the AP poll last year, climbing as high as No. 16 … The Huskies continue to be paced by Donald Brown, who entered last week's game at Louisville as the nation's leading rusher and actually improved his numbers … Brown is averaging 181.2 yards per game, holding a slight lead on Michigan State's Javon Ringer (179.4 ypg) … Brown has 11 rushing touchdowns, which is second only to Ringer's 12 … Brown has hit 100 yards by halftime in all five games this season … QB Zach Frazer is expected to make his first career start after Tyler Lorenzen went down with a fractured right foot against Louisville.

North Carolina is 3-1 for the first time since 2000 following a 28-24 win against Miami last Saturday — head coach Butch Davis' second straight win against his former team … Davis, a first-year assistant on the 1984 Miami team that lost to Doug Flutie's famous Hail Mary pass, nearly fell victim to another last-seconds play, but North Carolina S Trimane Goddard took the ball from a Miami receiver in the end zone with 10 seconds left to protect the win … North Carolina is without its regular starting quarterback as T.J. Yates sustained a broken ankle two weeks ago … QB Cameron Sexton started against Miami and completed 11 of 19 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns without an interception … North Carolina is 1-0 against BIG EAST teams this season, having defeated Rutgers 44-12 in Piscataway, N.J., Sept. 11 … WR Brandon Tate has an NCAA-record 3,549 combined yards on kickoff and punt returns … Tate is ranked second nationally in all-purpose yards (231.8 ypg) … Butch Davis was the 2000 BIG EAST Coach of the Year while at Miami.


LOUISVILLE Open Date
Next Game
Fri 10/10
at Memphis
 

PITTSBURGH at South Florida
Thu 10/2
7:30 PM
ESPN
Thursday's game will be the sixth meeting between Pittsburgh and USF and the Bulls hold a 3-2 series lead … USF also has a 2-1 advantage in BIG EAST games, having won back-to-back games against the Panthers … Last year's game saw the Bulls rally from a 14-10 halftime deficit to take a 48-37 win at Heinz Field … RB Mike Ford rushed for 63 yards and two touchdowns for USF, while RB LeSean McCoy ran for three TDs and 55 yards for Pitt.

Pittsburgh has won three straight heading into Thursday's game … The Panthers have made fourth-quarter comebacks to win their last two games, overcoming a 21-17 deficit to beat Iowa 21-20 and erasing a 24-16 fourthquarter hole to rally past Syracuse 34-24 … Pittsburgh is outscoring its opponents by a 35-10 margin in the fourth quarter … The Panthers are making their 15th appearance on ESPN's Thursday-night package and are 5-9 in their previous 14 appearances … Pitt's last Thursday-night game was a 16-13 win against West Virginia Nov. 25, 2004, that clinched a share of the BIG EAST title for the Panthers … Pittsburgh is one of eight teams nationally that has scored on 100 percent of its red zone opportunities … The Panthers are 13- for-13 inside the opponent's 20, including 10 touchdowns … Pittsburgh is the least penalized team in the nation, averaging just 2.75 penalties and 20.75 penalty yards per game … Pitt leads the BIG EAST and is seventh nationally in sacks (3.25 per game) … RB LeSean McCoy is ranked fourth in the BIG EAST in rushing (97.8 yards per game) … LB Scott McKillop leads the BIG EAST in tackles (10.0 per game).

The Bulls return home for the first time since Sept. 12 to face Pittsburgh … USF is one of seven 5-0 teams in the nation and one of four teams that has won three road games this season (Alabama, Fresno State, Utah) … The Bulls rank fourth nationally in rushing defense (58.8 yards per game) … USF has held its opponent to one touchdown or less in three of its five games … The Bulls are eighth nationally in total defense (243.8 yards per game) and 16th in total offense (464.4 ypg) … USF is ranked in the national top 10 for the second straight season, entering this week's AP and USA Today polls at No. 10 … The Bulls were ranked as high as No. 2 last season … QB Matt Grothe leads the BIG EAST in total offense (278.5 ypg) and passing (235.0 ypg) … Grothe also averages a team-leading 43.8 rushing yards per game … All-America DE George Selvie missed the game at North Carolina State with an ankle injury and is questionable for Thursday.


RUTGERS at West Virginia
Sat 10/4
Noon
Big East Network
Rutgers and West Virginia meet for the 36th time Saturday … The Mountaineers hold a 29-4-2 series lead and are 15-2 against the Scarlet Knights in BIG EAST play … The Mountaineers have won 13 straight in the series and are 15-0 against Rutgers in Morgantown … West Virginia RB Steve Slaton ran for three touchdowns in the Mountaineers' 31-3 win at Rutgers Stadium last year … The last game in Morgantown was a 41-39 Mountaineer win in triple overtime in the 2006 season finale, denying Rutgers a share of the BIG EAST title.

Rutgers is looking for back-to-back wins on the heels of a 38-0 decision against Morgan State … The Scarlet Knights are 0-1 on the road this season, falling 23-21 at Navy Sept. 20, and have dropped three of their last four road games, dating to last season … Rutgers has outscored its opponents 31-6 in the first quarter, but has been outscored by a 45-0 margin in the third quarter … The Scarlet Knights have scored 58 of their 78 points in the first half, while opponents have scored 68 of their 91 points in the second half … Freshman RB Jourdan Brooks has scored five of the Scarlet Knights' 10 touchdowns … Brooks ranks seventh in the BIG EAST in rushing (60.2 ypg) … QB Mike Teel is third in the BIG EAST in passing (206.2 ypg) … WR Kenny Britt and OT Anthony Davis did not play against Morgan State for disciplinary reasons … Britt ranks second in the BIG EAST in receptions (7.0 rpg) … LB Kevin Malast is third among BIG EAST players in tackles (8.0 tpg).

West Virginia evened its record at 2-2 following a 27-3 win against Marshall last Saturday … The game against Rutgers is the second in a stretch of four straight home games for the Mountaineers … West Virginia has scored 27 and 48 points in its two wins and was held to 14 and three points in its two losses … QB Pat White, who left the game against Marshall with a thumb injury, is expected to start Saturday … White has completed 73.3 percent of his passes (63 of 86) and has seven touchdown passes against just one interception … RB Noel Devine ranks third in the BIG EAST in rushing (99.8 ypg) while White is sixth (92.2 ypg) … K Pat McAfee is ranked fourth among kickers in BIG EAST history career scoring (323 points) … McAfee is tied with Paul Woodside for West Virginia's school record … West Virginia recognized the 55-year service of longtime scoreboard operator Homer Shaffer in the press box before last Saturday's game.


SOUTH FLORIDA vs. Pittsburgh
Thu 10/2
7:30 PM
ESPN
Thursday's game will be the sixth meeting between Pittsburgh and USF and the Bulls hold a 3-2 series lead … USF also has a 2-1 advantage in BIG EAST games, having won back-to-back games against the Panthers … Last year's game saw the Bulls rally from a 14-10 halftime deficit to take a 48-37 win at Heinz Field … RB Mike Ford rushed for 63 yards and two touchdowns for USF, while RB LeSean McCoy ran for three TDs and 55 yards for Pitt.

Pittsburgh has won three straight heading into Thursday's game … The Panthers have made fourth-quarter comebacks to win their last two games, overcoming a 21-17 deficit to beat Iowa 21-20 and erasing a 24-16 fourthquarter hole to rally past Syracuse 34-24 … Pittsburgh is outscoring its opponents by a 35-10 margin in the fourth quarter … The Panthers are making their 15th appearance on ESPN's Thursday-night package and are 5-9 in their previous 14 appearances … Pitt's last Thursday-night game was a 16-13 win against West Virginia Nov. 25, 2004, that clinched a share of the BIG EAST title for the Panthers … Pittsburgh is one of eight teams nationally that has scored on 100 percent of its red zone opportunities … The Panthers are 13- for-13 inside the opponent's 20, including 10 touchdowns … Pittsburgh is the least penalized team in the nation, averaging just 2.75 penalties and 20.75 penalty yards per game … Pitt leads the BIG EAST and is seventh nationally in sacks (3.25 per game) … RB LeSean McCoy is ranked fourth in the BIG EAST in rushing (97.8 yards per game) … LB Scott McKillop leads the BIG EAST in tackles (10.0 per game).

The Bulls return home for the first time since Sept. 12 to face Pittsburgh … USF is one of seven 5-0 teams in the nation and one of four teams that has won three road games this season (Alabama, Fresno State, Utah) … The Bulls rank fourth nationally in rushing defense (58.8 yards per game) … USF has held its opponent to one touchdown or less in three of its five games … The Bulls are eighth nationally in total defense (243.8 yards per game) and 16th in total offense (464.4 ypg) … USF is ranked in the national top 10 for the second straight season, entering this week's AP and USA Today polls at No. 10 … The Bulls were ranked as high as No. 2 last season … QB Matt Grothe leads the BIG EAST in total offense (278.5 ypg) and passing (235.0 ypg) … Grothe also averages a team-leading 43.8 rushing yards per game … All-America DE George Selvie missed the game at North Carolina State with an ankle injury and is questionable for Thursday.


SYRACUSE Open Date
Next Game
Sat 10/11
at West Virginia
 

WEST VIRGINIA vs Rutgers
Sat 10/4
Noon
Big East Network
Rutgers and West Virginia meet for the 36th time Saturday … The Mountaineers hold a 29-4-2 series lead and are 15-2 against the Scarlet Knights in BIG EAST play … The Mountaineers have won 13 straight in the series and are 15-0 against Rutgers in Morgantown … West Virginia RB Steve Slaton ran for three touchdowns in the Mountaineers' 31-3 win at Rutgers Stadium last year … The last game in Morgantown was a 41-39 Mountaineer win in triple overtime in the 2006 season finale, denying Rutgers a share of the BIG EAST title.

Rutgers is looking for back-to-back wins on the heels of a 38-0 decision against Morgan State … The Scarlet Knights are 0-1 on the road this season, falling 23-21 at Navy Sept. 20, and have dropped three of their last four road games, dating to last season … Rutgers has outscored its opponents 31-6 in the first quarter, but has been outscored by a 45-0 margin in the third quarter … The Scarlet Knights have scored 58 of their 78 points in the first half, while opponents have scored 68 of their 91 points in the second half … Freshman RB Jourdan Brooks has scored five of the Scarlet Knights' 10 touchdowns … Brooks ranks seventh in the BIG EAST in rushing (60.2 ypg) … QB Mike Teel is third in the BIG EAST in passing (206.2 ypg) … WR Kenny Britt and OT Anthony Davis did not play against Morgan State for disciplinary reasons … Britt ranks second in the BIG EAST in receptions (7.0 rpg) … LB Kevin Malast is third among BIG EAST players in tackles (8.0 tpg).

West Virginia evened its record at 2-2 following a 27-3 win against Marshall last Saturday … The game against Rutgers is the second in a stretch of four straight home games for the Mountaineers … West Virginia has scored 27 and 48 points in its two wins and was held to 14 and three points in its two losses … QB Pat White, who left the game against Marshall with a thumb injury, is expected to start Saturday … White has completed 73.3 percent of his passes (63 of 86) and has seven touchdown passes against just one interception … RB Noel Devine ranks third in the BIG EAST in rushing (99.8 ypg) while White is sixth (92.2 ypg) … K Pat McAfee is ranked fourth among kickers in BIG EAST history career scoring (323 points) … McAfee is tied with Paul Woodside for West Virginia's school record … West Virginia recognized the 55-year service of longtime scoreboard operator Homer Shaffer in the press box before last Saturday's game.


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