Big East Preview: Oct. 10-11

It's one of the quietest remaining weeks of the Big East football season, with three teams enjoying off weeks before heading into the heart of league play.

Three Games On This Week's Schedule

Only three games involving BIG EAST teams are part of the Week 7 college football schedule, with a pair of conference contests highlighting the week. Cincinnati, which is one of just two teams nationally that has not played a league game yet, begins BIG EAST play Saturday at noon against Rutgers in the BIG EAST Network Game of the Week. BIG EAST fans should keep the remote nearby, however, as West Virginia takes on Syracuse, also at noon, on ESPNU. The weekend begins with a Friday-night nonconference matchup at Louisville heads to Memphis for an 8 p.m. start on ESPN.


National Honors Pour In For Pittsburgh's McKilllop

Scott McKillop, Pittsburgh's all-America linebacker, had already built an impressive trophy case before the 2008 season had started. He may need to add another shelf, however, based on the accolades he's receiving following the Panthers' 26-21 win at USF last weekend. McKillop was chosen as the national defensive player of the week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation and the Football Writers Association of America and he also was tabbed as the Lott Trophy Impact Player of the Week. McKillop had a team-high 12 tackles to go with two sacks and three tackles for loss while delivering a key stop on a fake field goal against the Bulls, helping Pitt improve to 2-0 in BIG EAST play.


West Virginia's Gonzales Named to Allstate/AFCA Good Works Team

West Virginia wide receiver Tito Gonzales finds himself in some impressive company as one of 22 players, spanning all levels of college football, to be chosen to the Allstate/AFCA Good Works Team. The award, given by the American Football Coaches Association, honors players for teamwork and giving back through selfless contributions and commendable acts of kindness. Gonzales was recognized for a number of community service efforts in the Morgantown area. He is a regular speaker to youth groups at area churches and taught Bible school at several churches during the summer. He was a speaker for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the 2006 Sugar Bowl, the 2007 Gator Bowl and the 2008 Fiesta Bowl.


BIG EAST Running Backs Still Among The Best

With the departure of standout running backs Ray Rice and Steve Slaton to the NFL last season, it was reasonable to think that the BIG EAST might be comparatively thin in the offensive backfield this year. A look at this week's NCAA leaders, however, shows that BIG EAST running backs remain in the forefront of the national scene. Connecticut junior Donald Brown leads the nation in both rushing yards (1,067) and rushing touchdowns (12) and is the only player in the country with 1,000 yards to this point. Pittsburgh sophomore LeSean McCoy has gone for 100 yards in back-to-back games and ranks 18th nationally in rushing average (106.6 yards per game). Louisville freshman Victor Anderson, meanwhile, has been a breakthrough star for the Cardinals and ranks 20th in rushing (105.3 yards per game).


CINCINNATI vs. Rutgers
Sat 10/11
12:00 PM
Big East Network
Saturday's game will be the 14th meeting between Rutgers and Cincinnati … The Scarlet Knights hold a 7-5-1 series lead, though the Bearcats hold a 2-1 edge in BIG EAST games … Cincinnati has won back-to-back meetings in the series, including a 28-23 decision last season at Rutgers Stadium … That game saw Cincinnati QB Ben Mauk throw for 257 yards and three touchdowns as the Bearcats overcame a 17-7 halftime deficit.

Rutgers plays its second straight road game and looks for its first road win of the season when it faces Cincinnati Saturday … The Scarlet Knights look to rebound following a 24-17 loss at West Virginia last Saturday … The lone win of the season was a 38-0 decision against Morgan State Sept. 27 … Rutgers forced two turnovers in its lone win, but has not had a takeaway in its four losses … The top offensive player is WR Kenny Britt, who leads the BIG EAST and is fourth nationally in receptions (8.2 per game) … Britt also is 10th nationally in receiving yards (103.2 ypg) … Britt has 33 catches for 413 yards, but has not caught a touchdown pass this season … QB Mike Teel has completed 83 of 149 passes for 995 yards and three touchdowns with seven interceptions … RB Jourdan Brooks is seventh in the BIG EAST in rushing (59.8 ypg) … LB Kevin Malast is second in the BIG EAST in tackles (8.0 tpg), while DT Pete Tverdov is second in tackles for loss (1.5 pg).

Cincinnati enters Saturday as one of two teams that has not played a conference game in 2008 (New Mexico State being the other) … The Bearcats have won three straight following a 33-10 win at Marshall last Friday … Cincinnat has reeled off at least 326 yards of offense in every game this season, despite using three different starting quarterbacks … QB Chazz Anderson is expected to start behind center for the second straight week … Anderson saw his first collegiate action against Marshall and completed 16 of 26 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns … Six different Cincinnati players have attempted at least one pass this season … RBs Jacob Ramsey and John Goebel have split most of the carries in the backfield … Goebel has a team-high four rushing touchdowns … WRs Dominick Goodman and Mardy Gilyard are tied for the BIG EAST lead with five touchdown receptions each … Gilyard was held without a touchdown for the first time this season against Marshall … DE Connor Barwin, a converted tight end and one-time member of Cincinnati's basketball team, has a team-high four sacks.


CONNECTICUT Open Date
Next Game
10/18
at Rutgers
 

LOUISVILLE at Memphis
Frin 10/10
8:00 PM
ESPN
Louisville and Memphis renew a rivalry that includes 40 previous meetings … With three exceptions, the schools met every year from 1968 to 2004 … Louisville holds a 21-19 series lead and was a 56-49 winner Nov. 4, 2004 in the most recent matchup … The Cardinals have taken five of the last six meetings … Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe is 2-0 against Memphis, having defeated the Tigers twice while he was head coach at Tulsa.

Louisville had a bye in Week 6 and enters Friday's game at Memphis at 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the BIG EAST after a 26-21 setback to Connecticut Sept. 26 … The Cardinals' first four games have all been home games … The Cardinals have scored at least 38 points in each of their two wins, but have been held to 21 points or less in each of their two losses … Louisville leads the BIG EAST and ranks ninth nationally in both rushing defense (70.75 yards per game) and total defense (252.0 ypg) … By comparison, Louisville allowed an average of 165.3 rushing yards and 416.5 total yards last season … RB Victor Anderson is third in the BIG EAST in rushing (105.2 ypg) and is 20th nationally … Anderson is the nation's second-leading freshman runner, trailing only Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers (110.0 ypg) … Anderson has rushed for 421 yards and five touchdowns on 61 carries and is averaging a BIG EAST-leading 6.9 yards per carry … QB Hunter Cantwell leads the BIG EAST in passing yards (219.0 ypg) … WR Doug Beaumont is second in the BIG EAST and 10th nationally in receptions (7.2 rpg).

Memphis enters Friday's game as the winner of three straight following a 33- 30 decision at Alabama-Birmingham last Thursday … The Tigers opened the season with three straight losses — falling to Mississippi, Rice and Marshall — before knocking off Nicholls State, Arkansas State and UAB … Memphis is 2-1 at home and 1-2 on the road … The Tigers were 2-10 in 2006, but rebounded to finish 7-6 last season, ending the year with a loss to Florida Atlantic in the New Orleans Bowl … RB Curtis Steele has rushed for 578 yards on 90 carries, averaging 6.4 yards per carry … RB Charlie Jones has a teamhigh six rushing touchdowns … QB Arkelon Hall has completed 116 of 199 passes for 1,456 yards and eight touchdowns with five interceptions … WR Earnest Williams has a team-high five touchdown receptions … DT Clinton McDonald ranks fourth nationally in sacks (6.5, 1.08 per game).


PITTSBURGH Open Date
Next Game
10/18
at Navy
 

RUTGERS at Cincinnati
Sat 10/11
12:00 PM
Big East Network
Saturday's game will be the 14th meeting between Rutgers and Cincinnati … The Scarlet Knights hold a 7-5-1 series lead, though the Bearcats hold a 2-1 edge in BIG EAST games … Cincinnati has won back-to-back meetings in the series, including a 28-23 decision last season at Rutgers Stadium … That game saw Cincinnati QB Ben Mauk throw for 257 yards and three touchdowns as the Bearcats overcame a 17-7 halftime deficit.

Rutgers plays its second straight road game and looks for its first road win of the season when it faces Cincinnati Saturday … The Scarlet Knights look to rebound following a 24-17 loss at West Virginia last Saturday … The lone win of the season was a 38-0 decision against Morgan State Sept. 27 … Rutgers forced two turnovers in its lone win, but has not had a takeaway in its four losses … The top offensive player is WR Kenny Britt, who leads the BIG EAST and is fourth nationally in receptions (8.2 per game) … Britt also is 10th nationally in receiving yards (103.2 ypg) … Britt has 33 catches for 413 yards, but has not caught a touchdown pass this season … QB Mike Teel has completed 83 of 149 passes for 995 yards and three touchdowns with seven interceptions … RB Jourdan Brooks is seventh in the BIG EAST in rushing (59.8 ypg) … LB Kevin Malast is second in the BIG EAST in tackles (8.0 tpg), while DT Pete Tverdov is second in tackles for loss (1.5 pg).

Cincinnati enters Saturday as one of two teams that has not played a conference game in 2008 (New Mexico State being the other) … The Bearcats have won three straight following a 33-10 win at Marshall last Friday … Cincinnat has reeled off at least 326 yards of offense in every game this season, despite using three different starting quarterbacks … QB Chazz Anderson is expected to start behind center for the second straight week … Anderson saw his first collegiate action against Marshall and completed 16 of 26 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns … Six different Cincinnati players have attempted at least one pass this season … RBs Jacob Ramsey and John Goebel have split most of the carries in the backfield … Goebel has a team-high four rushing touchdowns … WRs Dominick Goodman and Mardy Gilyard are tied for the BIG EAST lead with five touchdown receptions each … Gilyard was held without a touchdown for the first time this season against Marshall … DE Connor Barwin, a converted tight end and one-time member of Cincinnati's basketball team, has a team-high four sacks.


SOUTH FLORIDA Open Date
Next Game
10/18
vs. Syracuse
 

SYRACUSE at West Virginia
Sat 10/11
12:00 PM
ESPNU
The Syracuse-West Virginia rivalry dates to the 1945 season and has featured an annual matchup between the schools since 1955 … The Orange hold a 30-25 series lead, though West Virginia has won the last six meetings … The six-game series winning streak is the longest for either school in the rivalry …West Virginia is 9-8 against the Orange in BIG EAST games … Last year's matchup saw West Virginia QB Pat White account for 237 yards of offense and two touchdowns in the Mountaineers' 55-14 win at the Carrier Dome … The winner of the annual game receives the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy, in honor of the former West Virginia letterman and Syracuse coaching legend.

Syracuse looks for its first BIG EAST win as the Orange dropped a 34-24 decision to Pittsburgh prior to last week's bye … Syracuse has been tied or ahead in the second half of three of its four losses this season, but has been outscored 60-13 in the fourth quarter … RB Curtis Brinkley ranks fourth in the BIG EAST in rushing (95.4 ypg) … The Orange expect RB Delone Carter to return to the lineup this week … Carter missed the last two games due to a hamstring injury … QB Cameron Dantley has thrown seven touchdown passes, trailing only West Viriginia's Pat White and USF's Matt Grothe, who have nine each, among BIG EAST signal-callers … P Rob Long. who averages 46.6 yards per punt, is the BIG EAST's leading punter, while K Patrick Shadle ranks third among BIG EAST kickers in scoring (6.6 ppg) … Syracuse has scored on all 12 of its red zone chances, joining Pittsburgh as the only BIG EAST teams to convert on 100 percent of their trips inside the 20.

West Virginia has won back-to-back games following a 24-17 decision against Rutgers last Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium … The Mountaineers are 3-0 at home and 0-2 on the road … The game against Syracuse is the third in a stretch of four straight home dates … West Virginia leads the BIG EAST in scoring defense (16.4 ppg) … The Mountaineers have averaged 226.6 rushing yards to rank 13th nationally and second in the BIG EAST … QB Pat White has completed 72.8 percent of his passes (75 of 103) for 590 yards and nine TDs against one interception … White also has averaged 85.6 rushing yards per game … White has missed the end of the last two games due to injuries, though he is expected to start Saturday … RB Noel Devine is fifth in the BIG EAST in rushing (90.8 ypg), one spot ahead of White … LB Mortty Ivy has 38 tackles and ranks fourth in the BIG EAST with 7.6 tackles per game.


WEST VIRGINIA vs. Syracuse
Sat 10/11
12:00 PM
ESPNU
The Syracuse-West Virginia rivalry dates to the 1945 season and has featured an annual matchup between the schools since 1955 … The Orange hold a 30-25 series lead, though West Virginia has won the last six meetings … The six-game series winning streak is the longest for either school in the rivalry …West Virginia is 9-8 against the Orange in BIG EAST games … Last year's matchup saw West Virginia QB Pat White account for 237 yards of offense and two touchdowns in the Mountaineers' 55-14 win at the Carrier Dome … The winner of the annual game receives the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy, in honor of the former West Virginia letterman and Syracuse coaching legend.

Syracuse looks for its first BIG EAST win as the Orange dropped a 34-24 decision to Pittsburgh prior to last week's bye … Syracuse has been tied or ahead in the second half of three of its four losses this season, but has been outscored 60-13 in the fourth quarter … RB Curtis Brinkley ranks fourth in the BIG EAST in rushing (95.4 ypg) … The Orange expect RB Delone Carter to return to the lineup this week … Carter missed the last two games due to a hamstring injury … QB Cameron Dantley has thrown seven touchdown passes, trailing only West Viriginia's Pat White and USF's Matt Grothe, who have nine each, among BIG EAST signal-callers … P Rob Long. who averages 46.6 yards per punt, is the BIG EAST's leading punter, while K Patrick Shadle ranks third among BIG EAST kickers in scoring (6.6 ppg) … Syracuse has scored on all 12 of its red zone chances, joining Pittsburgh as the only BIG EAST teams to convert on 100 percent of their trips inside the 20.

West Virginia has won back-to-back games following a 24-17 decision against Rutgers last Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium … The Mountaineers are 3-0 at home and 0-2 on the road … The game against Syracuse is the third in a stretch of four straight home dates … West Virginia leads the BIG EAST in scoring defense (16.4 ppg) … The Mountaineers have averaged 226.6 rushing yards to rank 13th nationally and second in the BIG EAST … QB Pat White has completed 72.8 percent of his passes (75 of 103) for 590 yards and nine TDs against one interception … White also has averaged 85.6 rushing yards per game … White has missed the end of the last two games due to injuries, though he is expected to start Saturday … RB Noel Devine is fifth in the BIG EAST in rushing (90.8 ypg), one spot ahead of White … LB Mortty Ivy has 38 tackles and ranks fourth in the BIG EAST with 7.6 tackles per game.


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