Big East Preview: 11/14-15

West Virginia and Pitt sit out the week's action, but five of the other six Big East teams are battling for bowl positioning in this week's contests

Three Teams Tied At Top Of BIG EAST Standings

It came down to the last play of the last game last Saturday night, but after Cincinnati scored a 26-23 overtime win at West Virginia, three teams were left at the top of the BIG EAST standings entering the home stretch of the 2008 season.

Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and West Virginia all sit with 3-1 records in BIG EAST play, setting the stage for some crucial matchups in coming weeks. Two of Cincinnati's remaining four games are against the Panthers and Mountaineers, who themselves meet in the Backyard Brawl Nov. 28. The Bearcats can't look too far ahead, however, with a Friday-night game on ESPN2 against Louisville looming (8 p.m. Eastern). The Cardinals are 3-0 against the Bearcats in their previous BIG EAST matchups.


Resurgent Rutgers Back In The Race

As if a three-way tie for first weren't enough, Rutgers sits just a half-game out of the conference lead at 3-2 in BIG EAST play. The Scarlet Knights have won three straight BIG EAST games and go for their fourth consecutive win Saturday when they face USF in the BIG EAST Network Game of the Week at noon Eastern.


White Is Right For West Virginia

At least one media outlet has suggested that West Virginia quarterback Pat White will complete his career as the greatest player in BIG EAST history. Either way, White will rank among the league's all-time greats in the record book. With 4,092 career rushing yards, White has more than doubled the previous BIG EAST record for quarterbacks and he needs just 197 yards to become the NCAA's career leader.


Seven BIG EAST Players Named To ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Teams

Seven BIG EAST players representing four schools have been chosen to their respective ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Teams, making them eligible for Academic All-America honors. Syracuse had three players chosen in offensive guard Ryan Durand, center Jim McKenzie and linebacker Jake Flaherty. West Virginia placed all-America offensive tackle Ryan Stanchek and defensive tackle Doug Slavonic. Rutgers was represented by cornerback Jason McCourty, while Pittsburgh had kicker Conor Lee on the list.

To be eligible, players must have earned at least a 3.30 cumulative grade-point average, achieved sophomore standing or higher and have legitimate athletic credentials in at least half of their teams' games.


CINCINNATI at Louisville
Fri 11/14
8:00 PM
ESPN2
The Cincinnati-Louisville series dates to the 1922 season and has featured 48 previous meetings between the schools … The Bearcats hold a 26-21-1 series lead, though the Cardinals have taken all three BIG EAST games … Last year's 28-24 Louisville win featured three touchdown passes from Cardinal QB Brian Brohm, who threw for 350 yards … Cincinnati QB Ben Mauk threw for 324 yards and three TDs as well.

Cincinnati has won two straight following a 26-23 overtime win at West Virginia last weekend … The Bearcats are 3-2 on the road this season and 10-3 away from home under head coach Brian Kelly … The Bearcats became bowl eligible for the seventh time in the last nine years with the win at West Virginia … Cincinnati leads the BIG EAST and is 21st nationally in passing offense (251.7 yards per game), a feat that is even more impressive considering that the Bearcats have used three different starting quarterbacks … QB Tony Pike is second in the BIG EAST in pass efficiency rating (141.1) … Pike has thrown 10 touchdown passes against just three interceptions … WR Dominick Goodman is second in the conference in receptions per game (6.0 rpg) and WR Mardy Gilyard is second in receiving yards (76.1 ypg) … Gilyard is ranked fifth nationally in kickoff returns (30.9 ypr) and has two touchdowns on special teams.

Louisville looks to rebound from consecutive losses for the first time this season … The Cardinals were 5-2 through seven games, but dropped road games at Syracuse (28-21) and Pittsburgh (41-7) … Louisville is 5-0 when scoring more than 21 points this season, but 0-4 when it has been held to 21 points or less … RB Victor Anderson is fifth in the BIG EAST in rushing and first among freshmen … Anderson has averaged 101.4 rushing yards per game and needs just 87 yards to reach 1,000 in his rookie year … Anderson has seven rushing touchdowns, good for third in the BIG EAST … QB Hunter Cantwell has completed 151 of 261 passes for 1,743 yards and 13 touchdowns with 11 interceptions … WR Troy Pascley has a team-high four touchdown catches among his seven receptions this season … DT Earl Heyman has a team-high five sacks while DT Adrian Grady has 7.5 tackles for loss to lead the Cardinals … CB Woodny Turenne leads the BIG EAST with four interceptions.


CONNECTICUT at Syracuse
Sat 11/15
7:00 PM
ESPNU
Connecticut and Syracuse have met four times since 2004 with the series tied at 2-2 … Each team has defended its home field in the brief rivalry with Syracuse 2-0 at the Carrier Dome and Connecticut 2-0 at Rentschler Field … Last year's matchup saw Connecticut's defense limit Syracuse to 255 total yards as the Huskies took a 30-7 win in East Hartford, Conn. … RB Donald Brown ran for 99 yards and a touchdown for Connecticut.

Connecticut started the season with wins in its first five games, but the Huskies have dropped three of their last four following a 35-13 loss to West Virginia Nov. 1 … The Huskies are 2-2 on the road this season and have lost their last two away from home (at North Carolina and Rutgers) … RB Donald Brown remains atop the national leaderboard in rushing … Brown has rushed for 1,406 yards and 15 touchdowns and has averaged 156.2 yards per game … Twenty-one of the Huskies' 26 touchdowns have been running plays … Connecticut quarterbacks have thrown just three touchdown passes … Seven different receivers have between 12 and 19 receptions this season … LB Scott Lutrus has a team-high 72 tackles and is second in the BIG EAST in tackles (8.0 tpg) … DE Cody Brown has a conference-leading eight sacks … LB Lawrence Wilson is tied for second in the BIG EAST with three interceptions … Head coach Randy Edsall is a 1980 graduate of Syracuse and former quarterback for the Orange.

Syracuse plays its final home game of the season when it faces Connecticut Saturday … The Orange saw a 14-14 halftime score turn into a 35-17 setback at Rutgers last Saturday … RB Curtis Brinkley is fourth in the BIG EAST and 19th nationally in rushing (107.3 yards per game) … Brinkley saw his single-season school record streak of five straight 100-yard games snapped against Rutgers … Brinkley has rushed for 966 yards and five touchdowns … Brinkley and Pittsburgh's LeSean McCoy are the only two BIG EAST players with six 100-yard games this year … Syracuse ranks second in the BIG EAST in turnover margin (+0.33 per game) … OG Ryan Durand, LB Jake Flaherty and C Jim McKenzie were chosen to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All- District Team … Syracuse led the BIG EAST with three players chosen to the Academic All-District squads … Orange quarterbacks have thrown just four interceptions — the fewest of any BIG EAST team … QB Cameron Dantley has thrown for 1,079 yards and nine touchdowns against just three INTs … P Rob Long leads the BIG EAST and is fifth nationally in punting (45.9 ypp).


LOUISVILLE vs. Cincinnati
Fri 11/14
8:00 PM
ESPN2
The Cincinnati-Louisville series dates to the 1922 season and has featured 48 previous meetings between the schools … The Bearcats hold a 26-21-1 series lead, though the Cardinals have taken all three BIG EAST games … Last year's 28-24 Louisville win featured three touchdown passes from Cardinal QB Brian Brohm, who threw for 350 yards … Cincinnati QB Ben Mauk threw for 324 yards and three TDs as well.

Cincinnati has won two straight following a 26-23 overtime win at West Virginia last weekend … The Bearcats are 3-2 on the road this season and 10-3 away from home under head coach Brian Kelly … The Bearcats became bowl eligible for the seventh time in the last nine years with the win at West Virginia … Cincinnati leads the BIG EAST and is 21st nationally in passing offense (251.7 yards per game), a feat that is even more impressive considering that the Bearcats have used three different starting quarterbacks … QB Tony Pike is second in the BIG EAST in pass efficiency rating (141.1) … Pike has thrown 10 touchdown passes against just three interceptions … WR Dominick Goodman is second in the conference in receptions per game (6.0 rpg) and WR Mardy Gilyard is second in receiving yards (76.1 ypg) … Gilyard is ranked fifth nationally in kickoff returns (30.9 ypr) and has two touchdowns on special teams.

Louisville looks to rebound from consecutive losses for the first time this season … The Cardinals were 5-2 through seven games, but dropped road games at Syracuse (28-21) and Pittsburgh (41-7) … Louisville is 5-0 when scoring more than 21 points this season, but 0-4 when it has been held to 21 points or less … RB Victor Anderson is fifth in the BIG EAST in rushing and first among freshmen … Anderson has averaged 101.4 rushing yards per game and needs just 87 yards to reach 1,000 in his rookie year … Anderson has seven rushing touchdowns, good for third in the BIG EAST … QB Hunter Cantwell has completed 151 of 261 passes for 1,743 yards and 13 touchdowns with 11 interceptions … WR Troy Pascley has a team-high four touchdown catches among his seven receptions this season … DT Earl Heyman has a team-high five sacks while DT Adrian Grady has 7.5 tackles for loss to lead the Cardinals … CB Woodny Turenne leads the BIG EAST with four interceptions.


PITTSBURGH Open Date
Next Game
Sat 11/22
at Cincinnati
 

RUTGERS at USF
Sat 11/15
12:00 PM
Big East Network
Saturday's game will be the fourth meeting between Rutgers and USF, with the Scarlet Knights holding a 2-1 series lead … The last two games — both Rutgers wins — have been decided by a combined five points … The Scarlet Knights were 30-27 winners against then-No. 2 USF last year at Rutgers Stadium behind two touchdown catches and 114 receiving yards from WR Tiquan Underwood and a 181-yard effort by RB Ray Rice.

Rutgers looks to get back to .500 as the Scarlet Knights bring a three-game winning streak into Saturday's game at USF … Rutgers began the season at 1-5, but has defeated Connecticut (12-10), Pittsburgh (54-34) and Syracuse (35-17) in succession … After averaging 16.7 points in its first seven games, Rutgers averaged 44.5 points in its last two … Rutgers is looking to match its longest BIG EAST winning streak — the Scarlet Knights won four consecutive conference games in 2006 … Rutgers is a combined 13-2 against the quartet of USF, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Connecticut in the last four years … Rutgers' schedule is rated as the 11th toughest in the nation by the NCAA … QB Mike Teel is one yard shy of 2,000 passing yards for the season and has thrown 12 touchdown passes … WR Kenny Britt leads the BIG EAST in receptions (7.5 per game) and receiving yards (102.6 ypg) … Britt is sixth nationally in receiving yards and seventh in receptions … LB Kevin Malast is fourth in the BIG EAST in tackles (7.8 per game) … DE Jamaal Westerman has six sacks, good for third in the BIG EAST.

USF returns from a bye week looking to end a stretch of three losses in four games … The Bulls have lost two straight, falling on the road to Louisville (24-20) and Cincinnati (24-10) … USF is 3-1 at home, but has played four of its last six games on the road … QB Matt Grothe is the BIG EAST leader in passing (230.0 yards per game) and total offense (268.1 ypg) … Grothe has completed 168 of 262 passes for 2,070 yards and 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions … The Bulls average a solid 172.4 rushing yards per game, but don't have a player who averages more than 41.3 yards per game … WR Taurus Johnson has a team-high four touchdown receptions … USF leads the BIG EAST in total defense (282.4 ypg) … DE George Selvie is second in the BIG EAST in tackles for loss (1.38 per game) and fourth in sacks (5.0) … LB Tyrone McKenzie has 71 tackles and ranks third in the conference at 7.9 per game … K Maikon Bonani is second among BIG EAST kickers in scoring (7.9 ppg) … Bonani has made 11 of 15 field goal attempts.


SYRACUSE vs. Connecticut
Sat 11/15
7:00 PM
ESPNU
Connecticut and Syracuse have met four times since 2004 with the series tied at 2-2 … Each team has defended its home field in the brief rivalry with Syracuse 2-0 at the Carrier Dome and Connecticut 2-0 at Rentschler Field … Last year's matchup saw Connecticut's defense limit Syracuse to 255 total yards as the Huskies took a 30-7 win in East Hartford, Conn. … RB Donald Brown ran for 99 yards and a touchdown for Connecticut.

Connecticut started the season with wins in its first five games, but the Huskies have dropped three of their last four following a 35-13 loss to West Virginia Nov. 1 … The Huskies are 2-2 on the road this season and have lost their last two away from home (at North Carolina and Rutgers) … RB Donald Brown remains atop the national leaderboard in rushing … Brown has rushed for 1,406 yards and 15 touchdowns and has averaged 156.2 yards per game … Twenty-one of the Huskies' 26 touchdowns have been running plays … Connecticut quarterbacks have thrown just three touchdown passes … Seven different receivers have between 12 and 19 receptions this season … LB Scott Lutrus has a team-high 72 tackles and is second in the BIG EAST in tackles (8.0 tpg) … DE Cody Brown has a conference-leading eight sacks … LB Lawrence Wilson is tied for second in the BIG EAST with three interceptions … Head coach Randy Edsall is a 1980 graduate of Syracuse and former quarterback for the Orange.

Syracuse plays its final home game of the season when it faces Connecticut Saturday … The Orange saw a 14-14 halftime score turn into a 35-17 setback at Rutgers last Saturday … RB Curtis Brinkley is fourth in the BIG EAST and 19th nationally in rushing (107.3 yards per game) … Brinkley saw his single-season school record streak of five straight 100-yard games snapped against Rutgers … Brinkley has rushed for 966 yards and five touchdowns … Brinkley and Pittsburgh's LeSean McCoy are the only two BIG EAST players with six 100-yard games this year … Syracuse ranks second in the BIG EAST in turnover margin (+0.33 per game) … OG Ryan Durand, LB Jake Flaherty and C Jim McKenzie were chosen to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All- District Team … Syracuse led the BIG EAST with three players chosen to the Academic All-District squads … Orange quarterbacks have thrown just four interceptions — the fewest of any BIG EAST team … QB Cameron Dantley has thrown for 1,079 yards and nine touchdowns against just three INTs … P Rob Long leads the BIG EAST and is fifth nationally in punting (45.9 ypp).


USF vs. Rutgers
Sat 11/15
12:00 PM
Big East Network
Saturday's game will be the fourth meeting between Rutgers and USF, with the Scarlet Knights holding a 2-1 series lead … The last two games — both Rutgers wins — have been decided by a combined five points … The Scarlet Knights were 30-27 winners against then-No. 2 USF last year at Rutgers Stadium behind two touchdown catches and 114 receiving yards from WR Tiquan Underwood and a 181-yard effort by RB Ray Rice.

Rutgers looks to get back to .500 as the Scarlet Knights bring a three-game winning streak into Saturday's game at USF … Rutgers began the season at 1-5, but has defeated Connecticut (12-10), Pittsburgh (54-34) and Syracuse (35-17) in succession … After averaging 16.7 points in its first seven games, Rutgers averaged 44.5 points in its last two … Rutgers is looking to match its longest BIG EAST winning streak — the Scarlet Knights won four consecutive conference games in 2006 … Rutgers is a combined 13-2 against the quartet of USF, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Connecticut in the last four years … Rutgers' schedule is rated as the 11th toughest in the nation by the NCAA … QB Mike Teel is one yard shy of 2,000 passing yards for the season and has thrown 12 touchdown passes … WR Kenny Britt leads the BIG EAST in receptions (7.5 per game) and receiving yards (102.6 ypg) … Britt is sixth nationally in receiving yards and seventh in receptions … LB Kevin Malast is fourth in the BIG EAST in tackles (7.8 per game) … DE Jamaal Westerman has six sacks, good for third in the BIG EAST.

USF returns from a bye week looking to end a stretch of three losses in four games … The Bulls have lost two straight, falling on the road to Louisville (24-20) and Cincinnati (24-10) … USF is 3-1 at home, but has played four of its last six games on the road … QB Matt Grothe is the BIG EAST leader in passing (230.0 yards per game) and total offense (268.1 ypg) … Grothe has completed 168 of 262 passes for 2,070 yards and 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions … The Bulls average a solid 172.4 rushing yards per game, but don't have a player who averages more than 41.3 yards per game … WR Taurus Johnson has a team-high four touchdown receptions … USF leads the BIG EAST in total defense (282.4 ypg) … DE George Selvie is second in the BIG EAST in tackles for loss (1.38 per game) and fourth in sacks (5.0) … LB Tyrone McKenzie has 71 tackles and ranks third in the conference at 7.9 per game … K Maikon Bonani is second among BIG EAST kickers in scoring (7.9 ppg) … Bonani has made 11 of 15 field goal attempts.


WEST VIRGINIA Open Date
Next Game
Saturday 11/22
at Louisville
 

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