Big East Preview: 10/18

Six league teams are in action this week, with two playing out of conference.

Ranked Teams Back In Action Saturday

The BIG EAST's two nationally ranked teams are back in action this week, highlighting a four-game schedule for conference teams Saturday. No. 19 USF looks for its first BIG EAST win of the season when the Bulls host Syracuse Saturday at noon Eastern in the BIG EAST Network Game of the Week. USF is joined in the national rankings by Pittsburgh, when enters Saturday's nonleague game at Navy at No. 23 in the Associated Press poll. The Panthers and Midshipmen meet at 3:30 p.m. on CBS College Sports.

Also on Saturday, Connecticut heads to Rutgers for a noon start on ESPNU and Louisville entertains Middle Tennessee State at 3:30.


Ticket Takers

The college football regular season is roughly half complete, but early numbers suggest that 2008 might well be a record-setting year for the BIG EAST in attendance. Through a combined 27 home dates for the eight member schools, the BIG EAST has attracted 1,173,726 fans -- an average of 43,471. That average would stand as the highest under the league's current configuration. BIG EAST stadiums have been filled to 86.9-percent capacity this year, a figure that would stand as the best in conference history.


Senior CLASS Award

Rutgers safety Courtney Greene has been chosen as one of 30 candidates for the first Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which will go to a Bowl Subdivision senior with notable achievements in academics, character, community service and competition. Greene, a two-time All-BIG EAST Second Team selection, is considered one of the top free safeties in college football. He also has been named to the watch lists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation's top defensive player, and the Lott Trophy, as the top impact player on defense. Off the field, he is a regular visitor to hospitals and schools and has participated in the opening ceremonies of Special Olympics New Jersey in each of the last two years. The 30 candidates will be pared to 10 finalists before the winner is announced during the postseason.


Never Too Early

Connecticut and USF would both become bowl eligible if they win their respective games Saturday. The Huskies are in position to play in their second consecutive bowl game, which would be a program first. The Bulls, meanwhile, have their sights set on a fourth consecutive appearance in a postseason bowl.


CINCINNATI Open Date
Next Game
at Connecticut
Sat 10/25
 

CONNECTICUT at Rutgers
Sat 10/18
Noon
ESPNU
Connecticut and Rutgers have met 27 times since 1940, with Rutgers holding an 18-9 series lead … The BIG EAST series stands at 2-2 after Connecticut's 38-19 win at Rentschler Field last season … That game saw Rutgers gain 519 yards of offense, but have to settle for a touchdown and four field goals … The Huskies, meanwhile, scored three offensive touchdowns, had one TD on a kickoff return, kicked three field goals and registered a safety … Rutgers QB Mike Teel threw for 343 yards on 32-for-52 passing, while Connecticut RB Donald Brown went for 154 yards and a score on 24 carries.

Connecticut returns from its bye week at 5-1 after the Huskies fell 38-12 at North Carolina Oct. 4 … The Huskies once again enter a game with the nation's leading rusher as RB Donald Brown has sat atop the national leaderboard for three weeks … Brown has 1,067 yards and 12 touchdowns on 179 carries … Brown is averaging 177.8 yards per game and has 425 more rushing yards than any other BIG EAST player … Brown also enters Saturday's game with a team-high 14 receptions … QB Zach Frazer has started the last two games in place of the injured Tyler Lorenzen … Frazer has completed 32 of 59 passes for 300 yards and one touchdown … LB Lawrence Wilson is tied for the BIG EAST lead with three interceptions … DE Cody Brown has five sacks, good for second in the BIG EAST, and is the conference leader with two forced fumbles … LB Scott Lutrus has a team-high 45 tackles and is fifth in the BIG EAST with 7.5 tackles per game.

Rutgers plays its homecoming game after it opened the BIG EAST portion of its schedule with back-to-back road dates … The five teams that have defeated Rutgers this season are a combined 22-8, with none of the five faring worse than 4-2 thus far … The Scarlet Knights are 6-1 under Greg Schiano and 49-25-1 all-time in homecoming games … RB Kordell Young, the Opening Day starter in the backfield, returned to the lineup against Cincinnati after missing four games with a sore knee and had a team-high 78 rushing yards against the Bearcats … RB Jourdan Brooks fared well in Young's place, scoring five rushing touchdowns and averaging 50.8 yards per game … QB Mike Teel ranks fourth in the BIG EAST in passing (195.0 yards per game) and has completed 102 of 184 passes for 1,170 yards and three touchdowns with seven interceptions … WR Kenny Britt leads the BIG EAST in receptions (7.4 per game) and receiving yards (92.8 ypg) … Rutgers has not forced a turnover against a Bowl Subdivision opponent this season.


LOUISVILLE vs. Mid Tenn St
Sat 10/18
3:30 PM
WHAS (Local)
Louisville and Middle Tennessee State have met twice previously on the gridiron with the Cardinals holding a 2-0 lead in the brief series … Last year's game saw the teams combine for 1,284 yards, 55 first downs and 100 points before Louisville came away with a wild 58-42 win at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium … The Cardinals scored touchdowns on two of their first three plays from scrimmage … QB Brian Brohm threw for 401 yards and five TDs as Louisville had three different players with at least 100 receiving yards.

Louisville heads into Saturday's game against Middle Tennessee State on the heels of a 35-28 win at Memphis Oct. 10 … The Cardinals lost most of the statistical battles against the Tigers, but scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams to get the win … RB Victor Anderson has averaged 100.4 rushing yards in his freshman season and ranks fifth in the BIG EAST in rushing … QB Hunter Cantwell has played through a nagging ankle injury to complete 87 of 153 passes for 1,009 yards and seven touchdowns and six interceptions … WR Doug Beaumont leads an emerging group of receivers with 32 receptions for 396 yards … Beaumont is second in the BIG EAST in receptions (6.4 per game) and third in yardage (79.2 ypg) … WR Trent Guy scored a touchdown on a 43-yard reception and had a 95-yard kickoff return for a TD against Memphis … CB Woodny Turenne is tied for the BIG EAST lead with three interceptions … Saturday's game is Louisville's last nonconference game of the season.

The Blue Raiders stand at 2-4 following a 31-21 loss at Florida International Oct. 11 … Middle Tennessee State's highlight thus far is a 24-14 win against Maryland Sept. 6 that has been dubbed by some observers as the biggest win in school history … The Blue Raiders came up six points and one yard short the following week in a 20-14 setback at Kentucky, when a Hail Mary pass at the final gun was stopped at the Wildcat 1-yard line … Middle Tennessee is 1-3 in the Sun Belt Conference … RB Phillip Tanner, who ran for three touchdowns against Louisville last season, leads the Blue Raiders with five TDs this season … Tanner has accounted for all five of Middle Tennessee's rushing touchdowns … QB Joe Craddock has completed 125 of 191 passes for 1,369 yards and seven touchdowns … The Blue Raiders had gained at least 200 passing yards in every game this year, until they had just 72 at Florida International last weekend.


PITTSBURGH at Navy
Sat 10/18
3:30 PM
CBS College Sports
THE GAME Saturday's game will be the 37th meeting between Pittsburgh and Navy in a series that dates to 1912 … The Panthers hold a 20-13-3 series lead … Navy was a 48-45 winner in double-overtime Oct. 10, 2007, at Heinz Field in last year's meeting … That game saw the teams combine for 915 yards of offense as Pitt RB LeSean McCoy finished with 165 rushing yards and three touchdowns … Navy QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada threw for 166 yards and two TDs and rushed for 122 yards and one score … Pittsburgh is making its first trip to Annapolis since 1987.

The Panthers return from a bye week after building a 2-0 BIG EAST record on the road … Pittsburgh is ranked No. 23 in this week's Associated Press top 25 and received votes in both the USA Today and Harris Interactive rankings … The Panthers have won four straight games … Pittsburgh is the least-penalized team in the nation (3.2 per game) and has been assessed the fewest penalty yards of any team nationally (21.8 per game) … Navy, coincidentally, is second in both categories (3.3 ppg, 26.5 ypg) … Pittsburgh's special teams have registered four blocked kicks (two field goals, one PAT, one punt) … RB LeSean McCoy is third in the BIG EAST in rushing (106.6 ypg) … McCoy has rushed for 533 yards and seven touchdowns on 117 attempts … QB Bill Stull is second in the conference in passing (205.6 ypg) and third in total offense (197.4 ypg) … All-America LB Scott McKillop is averaging 10.4 tackles per game, leading the BIG EAST and ranking 11th nationally … McKillop was chosen as the national defensive player of the week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, the Football Writers Association of America and the Lott Trophy following his 12-tackle effort at USF.

Navy has won three straight, including back-to-back road games at Wake Forest (24-17) and Air Force (33-27) … The lone blemishes on the Midshipmen's schedule were road setbacks to Ball State (35-23) and Duke (41-31) … Navy is 2-0 at home, but hasn't played in Annapolis since Sept. 20 … Saturday's game will be Navy's homecoming date … A Navy win against Pittsburgh would give the Midshipmen win against two nationally ranked teams in the same season for the first time since 1957 … Navy was a 23-21 winner against Rutgers in its other matchup against a BIG EAST opponent … The Midshipmen have dropped seven of their last nine homecoming games … Navy ranks second nationally in rushing offense (313.5 ypg) … FB Shun White is 13th nationally (116.3 ypg).


RUTGERS vs. Connecticut
Sat 10/18
Noon
ESPNU
Connecticut and Rutgers have met 27 times since 1940, with Rutgers holding an 18-9 series lead … The BIG EAST series stands at 2-2 after Connecticut's 38-19 win at Rentschler Field last season … That game saw Rutgers gain 519 yards of offense, but have to settle for a touchdown and four field goals … The Huskies, meanwhile, scored three offensive touchdowns, had one TD on a kickoff return, kicked three field goals and registered a safety … Rutgers QB Mike Teel threw for 343 yards on 32-for-52 passing, while Connecticut RB Donald Brown went for 154 yards and a score on 24 carries.

Connecticut returns from its bye week at 5-1 after the Huskies fell 38-12 at North Carolina Oct. 4 … The Huskies once again enter a game with the nation's leading rusher as RB Donald Brown has sat atop the national leaderboard for three weeks … Brown has 1,067 yards and 12 touchdowns on 179 carries … Brown is averaging 177.8 yards per game and has 425 more rushing yards than any other BIG EAST player … Brown also enters Saturday's game with a team-high 14 receptions … QB Zach Frazer has started the last two games in place of the injured Tyler Lorenzen … Frazer has completed 32 of 59 passes for 300 yards and one touchdown … LB Lawrence Wilson is tied for the BIG EAST lead with three interceptions … DE Cody Brown has five sacks, good for second in the BIG EAST, and is the conference leader with two forced fumbles … LB Scott Lutrus has a team-high 45 tackles and is fifth in the BIG EAST with 7.5 tackles per game.

Rutgers plays its homecoming game after it opened the BIG EAST portion of its schedule with back-to-back road dates … The five teams that have defeated Rutgers this season are a combined 22-8, with none of the five faring worse than 4-2 thus far … The Scarlet Knights are 6-1 under Greg Schiano and 49-25-1 all-time in homecoming games … RB Kordell Young, the Opening Day starter in the backfield, returned to the lineup against Cincinnati after missing four games with a sore knee and had a team-high 78 rushing yards against the Bearcats … RB Jourdan Brooks fared well in Young's place, scoring five rushing touchdowns and averaging 50.8 yards per game … QB Mike Teel ranks fourth in the BIG EAST in passing (195.0 yards per game) and has completed 102 of 184 passes for 1,170 yards and three touchdowns with seven interceptions … WR Kenny Britt leads the BIG EAST in receptions (7.4 per game) and receiving yards (92.8 ypg) … Rutgers has not forced a turnover against a Bowl Subdivision opponent this season.


USF vs. Syracuse
Sat 10/18
Noon
Big East Network
Saturday's game will be the fourth meeting between Syracuse and USF, with the Bulls holding a 3-0 series lead … Last year's matchup in Syracuse saw USF finish with a 346-15 advantage in rushing as the Bulls took a 41- 10 win Nov. 10, 2007 … USF QB Matt Grothe threw two touchdown passes and the Bulls had two 100-yard rushers in RBs Mike Ford (134) and Aston Samuels (101) … Syracuse QB Cameron Dantley made his first career start in last year's game.

Syracuse's game at USF will be the Orange's second straight BIG EAST road date … It also will be just the second, and last, game for Syracuse in October as the two-game road swing centers bye weeks … Syracuse does not have a home game in October and is in a stretch of 34 days between home dates … The only other time Syracuse didn't have an October home game was in 1979, when the Carrier Dome was under construction … RB Curtis Brinkley is ranked fourth in the BIG EAST in rushing (103.5 ypg) and is one of just two BIG EAST players with four 100-yard games this season (Connecticut's Donald Brown is the other) … Brinkley ranks 19th nationally in rushing … QB Cameron Dantley is third in the BIG EAST in passing efficiency (121.7) … Dantley has completed 73 of 126 passes for 753 yards and seven touchdowns … K Patrick Shadle is averaging 6.5 points per game and has made 9 of 10 field goal attempts … Shadle hit a career-long 53-yard field goal at West Virginia last Saturday.

The Bulls return from a bye week looking to rebound from a 26-21 loss to Pittsburgh Oct. 2 … USF had won its first five games of the season before falling to the Panthers … USF remains at No. 19 in the Associated Press national poll and No. 20 in the USA Today poll for the second consecutive week … QB Matt Grothe leads the BIG EAST in passing yards (217.3 ypg) and total offense (258.0 ypg) … Grothe has completed 106 of 165 passes for 1,304 yards and nine touchdowns against three interceptions … He had a streak of 110 consecutive passes without an interception snapped against Pittsburgh … Fifteen different players have at least one reception — only Troy (18), Oklahoma (16), Florida State (16) and Miami (16) have more players with at least one catch … RB Mike Ford has a team-high five rushing touchdowns … The Bulls held their first five opponents below 100 rushing yards before Pittsburgh had 146 yards on the ground … USF ranks 11th nationally in total defense (265.5 ypg) and sixth in rushing defense (73.3 ypg).


SYRACUSE at USF
Sat 10/18
Noon
Big East Network
Saturday's game will be the fourth meeting between Syracuse and USF, with the Bulls holding a 3-0 series lead … Last year's matchup in Syracuse saw USF finish with a 346-15 advantage in rushing as the Bulls took a 41- 10 win Nov. 10, 2007 … USF QB Matt Grothe threw two touchdown passes and the Bulls had two 100-yard rushers in RBs Mike Ford (134) and Aston Samuels (101) … Syracuse QB Cameron Dantley made his first career start in last year's game.

Syracuse's game at USF will be the Orange's second straight BIG EAST road date … It also will be just the second, and last, game for Syracuse in October as the two-game road swing centers bye weeks … Syracuse does not have a home game in October and is in a stretch of 34 days between home dates … The only other time Syracuse didn't have an October home game was in 1979, when the Carrier Dome was under construction … RB Curtis Brinkley is ranked fourth in the BIG EAST in rushing (103.5 ypg) and is one of just two BIG EAST players with four 100-yard games this season (Connecticut's Donald Brown is the other) … Brinkley ranks 19th nationally in rushing … QB Cameron Dantley is third in the BIG EAST in passing efficiency (121.7) … Dantley has completed 73 of 126 passes for 753 yards and seven touchdowns … K Patrick Shadle is averaging 6.5 points per game and has made 9 of 10 field goal attempts … Shadle hit a career-long 53-yard field goal at West Virginia last Saturday.

The Bulls return from a bye week looking to rebound from a 26-21 loss to Pittsburgh Oct. 2 … USF had won its first five games of the season before falling to the Panthers … USF remains at No. 19 in the Associated Press national poll and No. 20 in the USA Today poll for the second consecutive week … QB Matt Grothe leads the BIG EAST in passing yards (217.3 ypg) and total offense (258.0 ypg) … Grothe has completed 106 of 165 passes for 1,304 yards and nine touchdowns against three interceptions … He had a streak of 110 consecutive passes without an interception snapped against Pittsburgh … Fifteen different players have at least one reception — only Troy (18), Oklahoma (16), Florida State (16) and Miami (16) have more players with at least one catch … RB Mike Ford has a team-high five rushing touchdowns … The Bulls held their first five opponents below 100 rushing yards before Pittsburgh had 146 yards on the ground … USF ranks 11th nationally in total defense (265.5 ypg) and sixth in rushing defense (73.3 ypg).


WEST VIRGINIA Open Date
Next Game
vs. Auburn
Thu 10/23
 

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