Big East Football Preview

Looking at the week's Big East football conference action

Two More Prime Time Games Highlight This Week's Schedule

For the second time in three weeks, the Big East will be featured in a pair of prime time games on ESPN. Thursday night has a matchup of unbeaten, nationally ranked teams as Cincinnati takes on USF at 7:30, with the winner joining Pittsburgh at 2-0 in the Big East standings. The Panthers, meanwhile, have a chance to get to 3-0 in the conference when they visit Rutgers for a Friday-night game at 8 p.m.


More On Cincinnati/USF

There is no shortage of intriguing storylines with Thursday's Cincinnati-USF game at Raymond James Stadium. With both teams bringing 5-0 records into the game, it marks the latest in the season that two undefeated Big East teams have played each other since Nov. 9, 2006, when Louisville and Rutgers took 8-0 records into their showdown. Cincinnati and USF are ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense (USF fifth, Cincinnati 10th), while both are in the top 12 in scoring offense (Cincinnati third, USF 12th).


Big East Extends Relationship with Meineke Car Care Bowl

On the heels of new partnerships with the Champs Sports Bowl and a yet-to-be named bowl game in Yankee Stadium, the Big East has further solidified its relationship with the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., by extending its agreement with that event through the 2013 season. The Big East has been a partner with the Meineke Car Care Bowl since the game's inception in 2002. Last year's Meineke Car Care Bowl, which saw West Virginia defeat North Carolina, ranked fourth in attendance among all bowl games, behind only the BCS Championship Game, the Cotton Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl.


Road, Sweet Road

Much is made – particularly in football – about the benefits of home-field advantage, but Big East teams have bucked the trend in 2009. Four of the first five Big East games were won by the visiting team, and the lone home team to win thus far (Pittsburgh over Connecticut) did so on a last-second field goal.


CINCINNATI at USF
Thu 10/15
7:30 PM
ESPN
Thursday's game will be the seventh meeting between Cincinnati and USF … The Bearcats hold a 4-2 series lead … Cincinnati has won the last three games against USF, including a 24-10 decision at Nippert Stadium last year … Cincinnati QB Tony Pike threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns in last year's meeting … Thursday's game will be the latest in the season that two undefeated Big East teams have played each other since Nov. 9, 2006, when Louisville and Rutgers met with both teams sporting 8-0 records … USF defensive coordinator Joe Tresey served in a similar capacity at Cincinnati in 2007 and 2008.

Cincinnati remained in the top 10 for the second straight week as the Bearcats enjoyed a bye in Week 6 … The Bearcats have averaged 42 points per game and allowed an average of 13.8 ppg …Cincinnati is third nationally in scoring offense and 10th in scoring defense … The Bearcats have held all five opponents to 20 points or fewer … QB Tony Pike has established himself in the Heisman Trophy conversation thanks to his 1,493 passing yards and 13 touchdown passes …Pike has thrown just three interceptions in 174 attempts … WR Mardy Gilyard ranks second in the Big East in receptions (7.6 rpg) and receiving yards (103.4 yards per game) … RB Jacob Ramsey (278 rushing yards) and RB Isaiah Pead (225 yards) have split the majority of the carries … Eight different Cincinnati players have at least one touchdown reception … The Bearcats have scored 29 touchdowns and have punted just 19 times … Cincinnati has two special teams touchdowns.

USF moved to No. 21 in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls following its bye week, marking the Bulls' second straight appearance in the top 25 … USF has allowed just one opponent (Syracuse) to score 20 points, while the Bulls have held three opponents to seven points or fewer … USF ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense (9.4 ppg) … The Bulls have averaged 37 points, good for 12th nationally and second in the Big East … QB B.J. Daniels has thrown for 602 yards and six touchdowns with just two interceptions and is the Bulls' leading rusher with 291 yards on the ground … WR Carlton Mitchell has a team-high three touchdown passes and 377 receiving yards … Twelve different USF players have scored touchdowns this season … S Nate Allen has team highs of 29 tackles, two interceptions and five passes defended … DE Craig Marshall leads the team with three sacks.


CONNECTICUT vs. Louisville
Sat 10/17
Noon
Big East Network
Saturday's game will be the sixth meeting between Louisville and Connecticut with the Cardinals holding a 3-2 series lead … The Cardinals won the first three games of the rivalry, but the Huskies have won the last two, including a 26-21 decision in Louisville last year … Connecticut RB Donald Brown ran for 190 yards and a touchdown in last year's meeting to help the Huskies overcome a 21-10 deficit.

Louisville shook off a three-game losing streak in exciting fashion with last Saturday's 25-23 win against Southern Mississippi … The Cardinals saw the Golden Eagles take a one-point lead with 2:13 left, but a long kickoff return by WR Trent Guy set up a 32-yard field goal by K Ryan Payne with 30 seconds left for the game-winning points … QB Adam Froman has taken over as the Cardinals' starter after Justin Burke started the first three games … Froman has thrown for 414 yards, one touchdown and one interception … WR Scott Long is the top receiver after he had a career-high 146 yards on five catches against Southern Miss … Long has 23 receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown this season … RB Victor Anderson has 366 rushing yards and four TDs on the year … LB Jon Dempsey has a team-high 48 tackles and is second in the BIG EAST with 9.6 tackles per game … CB Johnny Patrick has two interceptions, while DE William Savoy leads the team with three sacks … P Cory Goettsche leads the Big East in punting (43.5 yards per punt).

Connecticut fell to 3-2 with last Saturday's 24-21 loss at Pittsburgh in the Huskies' Big East opener … Connecticut's two losses have been by a combined five points … QB Cody Endres has stepped into the starting lineup for the injured Zach Frazer and has responded by throwing for 663 yards and three touchdowns without an interception … RB Andre Dixon ranks third in the Big East in rushing (92.6 yards per game), while RB Jordan Todman is fourth (87.8 ypg) … Fourteen different players have at least one reception, while five different players have accounted for the Huskies' five touchdown receptions … Connecticut ranks 20th nationally in total defense (283.6 yards per game) … LBs Lawrence Wilson and Greg Lloyd rank first and fourth in the Big East, respectively, in tackles … Wilson has 50 stops and an average of 10.0 per game, while Lloyd has 44 stops and an 8.8 average … DE Lindsey Witten has eight sacks and ranks second nationally at 1.6 per game …S Robert Vaughn and S Robert McClain have three interceptions each.


LOUISVILLE at Connecticut
Sat 10/17
Noon
Big East Network
Saturday's game will be the sixth meeting between Louisville and Connecticut with the Cardinals holding a 3-2 series lead … The Cardinals won the first three games of the rivalry, but the Huskies have won the last two, including a 26-21 decision in Louisville last year … Connecticut RB Donald Brown ran for 190 yards and a touchdown in last year's meeting to help the Huskies overcome a 21-10 deficit.

Louisville shook off a three-game losing streak in exciting fashion with last Saturday's 25-23 win against Southern Mississippi … The Cardinals saw the Golden Eagles take a one-point lead with 2:13 left, but a long kickoff return by WR Trent Guy set up a 32-yard field goal by K Ryan Payne with 30 seconds left for the game-winning points … QB Adam Froman has taken over as the Cardinals' starter after Justin Burke started the first three games … Froman has thrown for 414 yards, one touchdown and one interception … WR Scott Long is the top receiver after he had a career-high 146 yards on five catches against Southern Miss … Long has 23 receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown this season … RB Victor Anderson has 366 rushing yards and four TDs on the year … LB Jon Dempsey has a team-high 48 tackles and is second in the BIG EAST with 9.6 tackles per game … CB Johnny Patrick has two interceptions, while DE William Savoy leads the team with three sacks … P Cory Goettsche leads the Big East in punting (43.5 yards per punt).

Connecticut fell to 3-2 with last Saturday's 24-21 loss at Pittsburgh in the Huskies' Big East opener … Connecticut's two losses have been by a combined five points … QB Cody Endres has stepped into the starting lineup for the injured Zach Frazer and has responded by throwing for 663 yards and three touchdowns without an interception … RB Andre Dixon ranks third in the Big East in rushing (92.6 yards per game), while RB Jordan Todman is fourth (87.8 ypg) … Fourteen different players have at least one reception, while five different players have accounted for the Huskies' five touchdown receptions … Connecticut ranks 20th nationally in total defense (283.6 yards per game) … LBs Lawrence Wilson and Greg Lloyd rank first and fourth in the Big East, respectively, in tackles … Wilson has 50 stops and an average of 10.0 per game, while Lloyd has 44 stops and an 8.8 average … DE Lindsey Witten has eight sacks and ranks second nationally at 1.6 per game …S Robert Vaughn and S Robert McClain have three interceptions each.


PITTSBURGH at Rutgers
Fri 10/16
8:00 PM
ESPN
Friday's game will be the 27th meeting between Pittsburgh and Rutgers in a series that dates to 1981 … The schools have met each season since 1985 … Pitt has a 19-7 series lead, though Rutgers has won the last four … Rutgers was a 54-34 winner Oct. 25, 2008, in the last meeting behind six touchdown passes and 361 yards from QB Mike Teel … Pittsburgh RB LeSean McCoy ran for 146 yards and four TDs … Friday's game will feature a set of brothers on opposite sidelines in Pittsburgh RB Ray Graham and Rutgers DB Khaseem Greene.

Pittsburgh improved to 5-1 to start the season with a 24-21 win against Connecticut on an 18-yard field goal at the final gun by K Dan Hutchins … The Panthers are 15-5 in their last 20 games, marking their best 20-game stretch since they were 16-4 from 2001-03 … Pitt has won eight of its last 10 road games … Last Saturday's win against Connecticut marked the sixth fourth-quarter comeback win for Pittsburgh in the last two years … The Panthers lead the nation with 25 sacks and are third in sacks per game (4.17 per game) … Conversely, Pitt has allowed just four sacks, good for seventh nationally … QB Bill Stull leads the Big East and is ranked fourth nationally in pass efficiency (163.54) … Stull has thrown 13 touchdown passes and just three interceptions in 147 attempts … RB Dion Lewis is second in the BIG EAST and sixth nationally in rushing (123 yards per game) … WR Jonathan Baldwin has 532 yards on 27 receptions with three TDs … DE Greg Romeus has seven sacks to rank second in the Big East and eighth nationally.

After dropping its Big East opener in Week 1 of the season, Rutgers has reeled off four straight wins outside the conference, including a 42-0 win against Texas Southern last Saturday … The Scarlet Knights allowed 47 points in their opening loss to Cincinnati and have allowed just 35 points in the four games since … QB Tom Savage returned to the starting lineup against Texas Southern after missing the previous week's game at Maryland due to a concussion … Savage has thrown for 693 yards and four touchdowns without an interception as a true freshman … Three different Rutgers running backs — Joe Martinek, Jourdan Brooks and DeAntwan Williams — have gone for at least 100 yards in a game this season, while Martinek and Williams have enjoyed 100-yard quarters … DE Jonathan Freeney has registered 6.5 sacks and ranks second in the Big East and third nationally at 1.3 sacks per game … Rutgers has not turned the ball over in its last three games.


RUTGERS vs. Pittsburgh
Fri 10/16
8:00 PM
ESPN
Friday's game will be the 27th meeting between Pittsburgh and Rutgers in a series that dates to 1981 … The schools have met each season since 1985 … Pitt has a 19-7 series lead, though Rutgers has won the last four … Rutgers was a 54-34 winner Oct. 25, 2008, in the last meeting behind six touchdown passes and 361 yards from QB Mike Teel … Pittsburgh RB LeSean McCoy ran for 146 yards and four TDs … Friday's game will feature a set of brothers on opposite sidelines in Pittsburgh RB Ray Graham and Rutgers DB Khaseem Greene.

Pittsburgh improved to 5-1 to start the season with a 24-21 win against Connecticut on an 18-yard field goal at the final gun by K Dan Hutchins … The Panthers are 15-5 in their last 20 games, marking their best 20-game stretch since they were 16-4 from 2001-03 … Pitt has won eight of its last 10 road games … Last Saturday's win against Connecticut marked the sixth fourth-quarter comeback win for Pittsburgh in the last two years … The Panthers lead the nation with 25 sacks and are third in sacks per game (4.17 per game) … Conversely, Pitt has allowed just four sacks, good for seventh nationally … QB Bill Stull leads the Big East and is ranked fourth nationally in pass efficiency (163.54) … Stull has thrown 13 touchdown passes and just three interceptions in 147 attempts … RB Dion Lewis is second in the BIG EAST and sixth nationally in rushing (123 yards per game) … WR Jonathan Baldwin has 532 yards on 27 receptions with three TDs … DE Greg Romeus has seven sacks to rank second in the Big East and eighth nationally.

After dropping its Big East opener in Week 1 of the season, Rutgers has reeled off four straight wins outside the conference, including a 42-0 win against Texas Southern last Saturday … The Scarlet Knights allowed 47 points in their opening loss to Cincinnati and have allowed just 35 points in the four games since … QB Tom Savage returned to the starting lineup against Texas Southern after missing the previous week's game at Maryland due to a concussion … Savage has thrown for 693 yards and four touchdowns without an interception as a true freshman … Three different Rutgers running backs — Joe Martinek, Jourdan Brooks and DeAntwan Williams — have gone for at least 100 yards in a game this season, while Martinek and Williams have enjoyed 100-yard quarters … DE Jonathan Freeney has registered 6.5 sacks and ranks second in the Big East and third nationally at 1.3 sacks per game … Rutgers has not turned the ball over in its last three games.


SYRACUSE Open Date
Next Game
Oct. 24
vs. Akron
 

USF vs. Cincinnati
Thu 10/15
7:30 PM
ESPN
Thursday's game will be the seventh meeting between Cincinnati and USF … The Bearcats hold a 4-2 series lead … Cincinnati has won the last three games against USF, including a 24-10 decision at Nippert Stadium last year … Cincinnati QB Tony Pike threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns in last year's meeting … Thursday's game will be the latest in the season that two undefeated Big East teams have played each other since Nov. 9, 2006, when Louisville and Rutgers met with both teams sporting 8-0 records … USF defensive coordinator Joe Tresey served in a similar capacity at Cincinnati in 2007 and 2008.

Cincinnati remained in the top 10 for the second straight week as the Bearcats enjoyed a bye in Week 6 … The Bearcats have averaged 42 points per game and allowed an average of 13.8 ppg …Cincinnati is third nationally in scoring offense and 10th in scoring defense … The Bearcats have held all five opponents to 20 points or fewer … QB Tony Pike has established himself in the Heisman Trophy conversation thanks to his 1,493 passing yards and 13 touchdown passes …Pike has thrown just three interceptions in 174 attempts … WR Mardy Gilyard ranks second in the Big East in receptions (7.6 rpg) and receiving yards (103.4 yards per game) … RB Jacob Ramsey (278 rushing yards) and RB Isaiah Pead (225 yards) have split the majority of the carries … Eight different Cincinnati players have at least one touchdown reception … The Bearcats have scored 29 touchdowns and have punted just 19 times … Cincinnati has two special teams touchdowns.

USF moved to No. 21 in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls following its bye week, marking the Bulls' second straight appearance in the top 25 … USF has allowed just one opponent (Syracuse) to score 20 points, while the Bulls have held three opponents to seven points or fewer … USF ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense (9.4 ppg) … The Bulls have averaged 37 points, good for 12th nationally and second in the Big East … QB B.J. Daniels has thrown for 602 yards and six touchdowns with just two interceptions and is the Bulls' leading rusher with 291 yards on the ground … WR Carlton Mitchell has a team-high three touchdown passes and 377 receiving yards … Twelve different USF players have scored touchdowns this season … S Nate Allen has team highs of 29 tackles, two interceptions and five passes defended … DE Craig Marshall leads the team with three sacks.


WEST VIRGINIA vs. Marshall
Sat 10/17
3:30 PM
Big East Local
West Virginia and Marshall have met eight times since 1911 and the Mountaineers are 8-0 against the Thundering Herd … The schools met four times from 1911 through 1923, resumed play for a 1997 game and have met in each of the last three seasons … The Mountaineers won 27-3 last year as QB Pat White threw for 130 yards and two touchdowns … Saturday's game features the nation's second- and third-leading rushers in Marshall RB Darius Marshall and West Virginia RB Noel Devine.

West Virginia won its Big East opener as the Mountaineers scored a 34-13 decision at Syracuse last Saturday … West Virginia has scored between 30 and 35 points in each of its five games thus far … The Mountaineers rank 16th nationally in total offense (449.2 yards per game) … After committing a combined 14 turnovers in its previous three games, West Virginia had just one giveaway against Syracuse … The Mountaineers have forced five turnovers in the last two games and have at least one takeaway in every game this year … RB Noel Devine ranks third nationally in rushing (126.2 yards per game) and has 631 rushing yards and seven TDs on the ground … Devine had his first career touchdown reception last week against Syracuse … QB Jarrett Brown has completed 68.8 percent of his passes (95 of 138) for 1,190 yards and eight touchdowns against five interceptions … WR Jock Sanders is the Big East leader in receptions (8.2 per game) … LB J.T. Thomas has a team-high 32 tackles … DE Julian Miller leads the squad with 3.5 sacks, while S Robert Sands has a team-high two interceptions.

Marshall picked up a 31-10 win at Tulane last Saturday to improve to 4-2 and match last season's win total … Marshall is 2-1 in Conference USA, sitting in a three-way tie atop the East Division standigns … The only losses have been to Virginia Tech (52-10) and East Carolina (21-17) … The Thundering Herd have won back-to-back road games for the first time since the 2004 season … Marshall has been outscored 87-59 in the first half, but has outscored its opponents 74-50 in the second half … RB Darius Marshall ranks second nationally in rushing (147.4 yards per game) and all-purpose yards (211.0 ypg) … Darius Marshall has 737 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 111 carries … QB Brian Anderson has thrown for 963 yards and five touchdowns with five interceptions … LB Mario Harvey has a team-high 46 tackles to go with 2.5 sacks, while DE Albert McClellan has a team-high three sacks.


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