Big East Football Preview

Seven out of conference battles, including three key showdowns, highlight the Big East's slate of games in week two of the season.


CINCINNATI vs. SE Missouri St.
Sat 9/12
7:30 PM
Big East Local
Saturday's game is the second between Cincinnati and Southeast Missouri State … The first meeting — a 59-3 Cincinnati win Aug. 30, 2007 — was the first regular-season game for Bearcat head coach Brian Kelly … The Bearcats finished with 615 yards of offense, including 134 receiving yards by WR Mardy Gilyard … QB Tony Pike made his collegiate debut in that game, coming off the bench to throw for 57 yards and a TD on 6-for-9 passing.

Cincinnati gained an early head start in the race for the BIG EAST championship as the Bearcats took a 47-15 win at Rutgers on Labor Day … The Bearcats ran away from a 7-7 first quarter deadlock with a 24-point second period and a 14-point third quarter … The offense was sharp from the outset as Cincinnati finished with 564 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per play against Rutgers … QB Tony Pike completed 27 of 34 passes for a career-high 362 yards and three touchdowns with one interception … Seven different receivers caught at least two passes each, with WR Mardy Gilyard going for 89 yards and a TD on eight catches … RB Isaiah Pead ran for a touchdown and scored another on a 41-yard screen pass … TE Travis Kelce made his first career appearance and scored a pair of rushing touchdowns while lining up behind center … Cincinnati is 1-0 in BIG EAST play for the third straight year … LB Curtis Young led the Bearcat defense with 11 tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack.

Southeast Missouri State opened its 2009 season in record-setting fashion as the Redhawks scored a 72-3 blowout of NAIA Quincy last Thursday … The Redhawks held a 21-0 lead just 4:25 into the game and raced to a 58-0 halftime lead … Southeast Missouri State finished with 512 yards of offense and scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams … The Redhawks scored 28 points in the first quarter after scoring 13 combined points in the first quarters their 12 games last year … QB Matt Scheible completed 11 of 18 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns while adding a rushing TD in his third career start … RB Henry Harris had three of the Redhawks' six rushing touchdowns … Southeast Missouri State matched Air Force as the highest scoring Division I teams in Week 1 of the season … The Redhawks are 1-13 all-time against FBS opponents, with the lone win coming against Middle Tennessee State in 2002.


CONNECTICUT at North Carolina
Sat 9/12
12:00 PM
ESPNU
Connecticut and North Carolina have met twice prior to Saturday's game … The Tar Heels have a 2-0 series lead, including a 38-12 win Oct. 4, 2008, in Chapel Hill, N.C. … North Carolina LB Bruce Carter blocked three Connecticut punts in that game, which snapped the Huskies' five-game winning streak … Saturday's game will be the first home date for Connecticut in the series.

Connecticut stands at 1-0 for the sixth consecutive season after the Huskies took a 23-16 win at Ohio last Saturday … The Huskies, who employed a new no-huddle offense, still employed their trademark running game to the tune of 259 yards … RB Jordan Todman ran for a career-high 157 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries in his first career start, while RB Andre Dixon had 100 yards on 19 attempts … It was Dixon's fifth career 100-yard game and Todman's first … The last time Connecticut had two 100-yard rushers in the same game was a 46-45 overtime win against Pittsburgh Nov. 11, 2006, when Donald Brown (205) and D.J. Hernandez (130) did it … QB Zach Frrazer completed 11 passes to seven different receivers, with no player finishing with more than two catches … The Huskies limited Ohio to just 21.4 percent efficiency on third down (3 of 14) … The Connecticut defense forced two turnovers, had three sacks and held the Bobcats to 1.9 yards per carry and 61 rushing yards … Connecticut ranked sixth nationally in total defense last year (278.0 yards per game).

North Carolina is 1-0 after the Tar Heels handled The Citadel 40-6 last Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C. … Saturday's game marks the eighth straight year that the Tar Heels will have faced a BIG EAST member … North Carolina is 3-7 in its last 10 games against BIG EAST teams … The Tar Heel defense limited The Citadel to 30 rushing yards and 153 total yards last Saturday … North Carolina forced four turnovers, had two sacks and registered 10 tackles for loss … RB Shaun Draughn is the ACC rushing leader through the first week after his 118-yard effort against The Citadel … QB T.J. Yates completed 9 of 20 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns with one interception in the season-opener … Eight of North Carolina's 12 opponents — including Connecticut — played in a bowl game last year … Head coach Butch Davis was the 2000 BIG EAST Coach of the Year at Miami (Fla.) … Davis led the Hurricanes to BIG EAST titles in 1996 (shared with Virginia Tech and Syracuse) and 2000.


LOUISVILLE Open Date
Next Game
Sat 9/19
at Kentucky
The Cardinals get the week off to gear up for their in-state showdown with the Wildcats.

PITTSBURGH at Buffalo
Sat 9/12
12:00 PM
Big East Local
Saturday's game is the second meeting between Pittsburgh and Buffalo … The Panthers took a 27-16 win Sept. 6, 2008 … Pittsburgh RB LeSean McCoy ran for 93 yards and three touchdowns as the Panthers broke away from a one-point lead with 10 unanswered fourth-quarter points.

Pittsburgh opened the 2009 season in impressive fashion as the Panthers rolled past Youngstown State 38-3 at Heniz Field last Saturday … Pittsburgh limited the Penguins to just 159 total yards and an average of 2.8 yards per play … Pittsburgh reached the red zone six times and came away with five touchdowns and a field goal … RB Dion Lewis had one of the best debuts by any Pittsburgh player in history as he rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns while adding a 10-yard TD reception … Lewis became the first Pittsburgh freshman to rush for 100 yards in a season-opener since Tony Dorsett had 100 against Georgia in 1973 … QB Bill Stull completed 11 of 16 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns with one interception … QB Tino Sunseri came off the bench to go 5-for-8 for 80 yards and a TD … The Panthers controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage as the defense registered six sacks while the offensive line did not allow a sack in 24 pass attempts … LB Adam Gunn had two sacks and a team-high eight tackles … Pittsburgh plays three of its next four games on the road.

Buffalo scored a road win out of the gate in 2009 as the Bulls took a 23-17 decision at Texas-El Paso last Saturday … It was Buffalo's first season-opening win on the road since 1990 … UTEP had the would-be go-ahead touchdown nullified on a holding penalty with 14 seconds left … Buffalo won the MAC title in 2008, defeating 12th-ranked Ball State in the conference championship game (42-24) and advancing to the International Bowl against Connecticut … The Bulls finished 8-6 in 2008 for their first winning season 1996 … Buffalo is 9-24-1 all-time against the current BIG EAST membership … RB James Maynard ran for 1,333 yards and 16 touchdowns last season, but underwent season-ending shoulder surgery after suffering an injury in training camp … RB Brandon Thermilus stepped in to go for 79 yards and a TD in 25 carries against UTEP … QB Zach Maynard made his first career start against UTEP and completed 12 of 19 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown …WR Naaman Roosevelt — who had more than 100 catches and 1,400 receiving yards last season — had five receptions for 91 yards and a TD against UTEP.


RUTGERS vs. Howard
Sat 9/12
3:30 PM
Big East Local
Rutgers and Howard meet for the second time Saturday … The only previous game between the schools was Sept. 23, 2006, when the Scarlet Knights took a 56-7 win at Rutgers Stadium … RB Ray Rice ran for 105 yards and three touchdowns, while RB Brian Leonard had two TDs and 62 yards on 10 carries … The Scarlet Knights finished with a 357-172 advantage in total offense.

Rutgers opened the 2009 season in front of a record crowd of 53,737 at the expanded Rutgers Stadium, but dropped its second straight season-opener with a 47-15 setback to Cincinnati Monday … The Scarlet Knights were tied with the Bearcats after the first quarter, thanks to a 20-play drive that consumed more than 10 minutes, but allowed Cincinnati 38 straight points before Rutgers could score again … Rutgers was limited to just 50 rushing yards against Cincinnati … The individual highlights came from a pair of freshmen as WR Mohamed Sanu had game highs of 10 receptions and 101 receiving yards and QB Tom Savage came off the bench to throw for 135 yards and a touchdown … Savage is the third true freshman quarterback to play for Greg Schiano … RB Joe Martinek started in the backfield and finished with 54 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries … LB Alex Silvestro had five tackles, one tackle for loss and an interception … Rutgers saw a seven-game winning streak end with the loss to Cincinnati … Rutgers is one of 13 teams nationally that returns all five starters from last year's offensive line.

Howard opens its 2009 season with Saturday's game at Rutgers … The Bison were 1-10 overall and 0-8 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference last season … The lone win came against Savannah State Sept. 27 (49-21) … Howard has lost seven straight entering the 2009 season … Head coach Carey Bailey was a member of two Southeastern Conference championship teams as a player at Tennessee … QB Floyd Haigler took every snap for the Bison last season and threw for 2,403 yards and 17 touchdowns with 19 interceptions … WR Willie Carter and DL James Carter were chosen to the preseason All-MEAC Second Team … Willie Carter had 44 catches for 477 yards and a team high six touchdowns last year … James Carter had 6.5 tackles for losses and 16 total stops in 2008 … Prominent alumni of Howard include Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, Illinois senator Roland Burris, musicians Roberta Flack and Sean Combs and actor Marlon Wayans.


SYRACUSE at Penn State
Sat 9/12
12:00 PM
Big Ten Network
Saturday's game will be the 70th meeting between Syracuse and Penn State in a rivalry that dates to the 1922 season … The schools played every year from 1922-90, with the exception of 1943 … Last year's meeting — a 55-13 Penn State win at the Carrier Dome — was the first game in the series since 1990 … Syracuse has played more games against Penn State than it has any other opponent … The Nittany Lions hold a 41-23-5 series lead.

Syracuse played one of the more exciting games in the opening week of the season as the Orange dropped a 23-20 decision to Minnesota in overtime … Syracuse fell behind 14-3 in the first quarter, reeled off 17 straight points to hold a six-point halftime lead, but saw the Golden Gophers score the last nine points of the game … Syracuse's defense limited Minnesota to just two touchdowns — one off a turnover at the Orange 16-yard line and another that was set up by a long kickoff return … WR Mike Williams enters Saturday's game having caught a touchdown pass in 10 consecutive games — the longest active streak in FBS … Williams had seven catches for 94 yards and a touchdown in the season-opener … QB Greg Paulus was solid in his college football debut as he completed 19 of 31 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown with one interception … RB Delone Carter ran for 88 yards and a TD on 23 carries … DT Arthur Jones had five tackles against Minnesota … DE Chandler Jones (Arthur's brother) had four stops in his first career game.

Penn State is 1-0 following a 31-7 win against Akron at Beaver Stadium … The Nittany Lions held the Zips without a first down in the first half and limited Akron to just eight yards in the first 30 minutes … The Penn State defense allowed just 186 yards for the game … WR Derek Moye had six catches for 138 yards and a touchdown in his first career start … QB Daryll Clark completed 29 of 40 passes for 353 yards and three TDs with one interception against Akron … Joe Paterno, the all-time wins leader among FBS coaches, is 22-4 against Syracuse … The game against Syracuse is the second of four straight home games to open the 2009 season … The Nittany Lions are 28-2 in their last 30 home games … The win against Akron was the 801st in program history (801-349-42) … Penn State has won two of the last four Big Ten titles, including a share of last year's crown … The Nittany Lions are 57-12 in nonconference games since joining the Big Ten in 1993 … Penn State had a 10-game nonconference winning streak snapped by Southern California in last year's Rose Bowl.


USF at Western Kentucky
Sat 9/12
7:30 PM
Big East Local
Saturday's game is the fifth meeting between USF and Western Kentucky … The schools met each year from 1997 to 2000, when both schools were Championship Subdivision members … The Hilltoppers took the first two games, while the Bulls won the last two … Saturday's game will mark the debut of Western Kentucky's refurbished Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium.

USF was locked in a 7-7 tie with Wofford after the first quarter, but the Bulls closed the game with 33 unanswered points to take a 40-7 win at Raymond James Stadium … The Bulls have won 12 straight regular-season nonconference games … QB Matt Grothe stands just 88 yards shy of former West Virginia quarterback Pat White's BIG EAST total offense record (10,529) … Grothe enters Saturday's game with 10,441 career yards … Grothe also ranks third on the BIG EAST's career completions chart (693) and is seventh in passing yards (8,312) … DE George Selvie enters Saturday's game with 61 career tackles for loss, ranking first nationally among active players … Selvie has 26.5 sacks to rank second on the active career chart … Selvie played 41 snaps against Wofford and was double-teamed 12 times and triple-teamed three times … RB Moise Plancher had 78 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries against Wofford … FS Nate Allen had 10 tackles and a forced fumble … USF held Wofford to just 211 yards of offense and 3-of-13 efficiency on third down..

Western Kentucky hosts a BIG EAST opponent for the first time when USF visits Smith Stadium … This season completes the Hilltoppers' transition to the Bowl Subdivision as Western Kentucky is eligible for the Sun Belt Conference title and a bowl berth for the first time … Western Kentucky won the NCAA title in 2002 as a Championship Subdivision member … The Hilltoppers look for their first win of 2009 after a 63-7 setback at Tennessee last Saturday … Western Kentucky finished with 83 yards of offense and was held to six first downs … The Hilltoppers forced turnovers on Tennessee's first two offensive series … Western Kentucky is looking to avoid just its second 0-2 start in the last 14 seasons … The Hilltoppers have won 13 straight home openers and 19 of their last 20 … The last team to defeat Western Kentucky in a home opener was Murray State (35-14, Aug. 31, 1995) … CB Jamal Forest started as a true freshman against Tennessee and registered his first career interception in the Volunteers' first possession.


WEST VIRGINIA vs. East Carolina
Sat 9/12
3:30 PM
ESPN360.com
West Virginia holds a 17-3 series lead against East Carolina in a rivalry that dates to 1970 … The schools have met each year since 2002 … West Virginia is 12-0 at home against East Carolina … Last year's game in Greenville, N.C., saw the Pirates take a 24-3 win behind two touchdowns by RB Jonathan Williams … The loss snapped West Virginia's seven-game series winning streak.

West Virginia began the 2009 season with a 33-20 win against Liberty at Milan Puskar Stadium … The Mountaineers broke open a 10-10 game in the second quarter, building a 23-10 halftime lead and gaining a 20-point cushion at 33-13 in the fourth quarter … QB Jarrett Brown finished with 312 yards of total offense as he completed 19 of 26 passes for 243 yards and ran for 69 yards and a touchdown on nine carries … Brown's passing total is one yard shy of his career high … RB Noel Devine averaged 6.6 yards per carry to finish with 112 yards and a score on 17 attempts … Devine became the 15th West Virginia player to surpass 2,000 career yards in the win against Liberty (2,028) … WR Jock Sanders had eight receptions for 95 yards … K Tyler Bitancurt scored 15 points on four field goals and three PATs in his college debut … All of Bitancurt's field goals were from 35 yards or longer … West Virginia is 43-9 in its last 52 games … The 42 wins from 2006-09 mark the best four-year run in school history … West Virginia is 141-7-1 since 1980 and 59-1 since 2000 when the Mountaineers score 30 or more points.

East Carolina stands at 1-0 after the Pirates held off Appalachian State 29-24 in Greenville, N.C. … The Pirates gained an early 24-0 lead and held a 29-7 advantage in the fourth quarter before the Mountaineers closed to within five … The Pirates have won seven of their last nine, 12 of their last 18 and 14 of their last 20 … East Carolina was 9-5 last season and won the Conference USA championship … East Carolina has won six games against automatic-qualifying BCS members since 2005 … The Pirates are 22-40 all-time against current BIG EAST members … RB Dominique Lindsay ran for 105 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries against Appalachian State … WR Jamar Bryant has caught at least one pass in 20 consecutive games … Head coach Skip Holtz was the head coach at Connecticut from 1994-98 … Including the trip to West Virginia, East Carolina plays four of its next five games on the road.


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