Big East Football Preview

The top three teams in the league try to keep pace, or gain ground, in conference play this weekend.

ABC Tabs Cincinnati, Connecticut For Prime Time Matchup

Unbeaten Cincinnati will host Connecticut in a prime time battle at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC with the network sending its top broadcasting crew of Brent Musberger, Kirk Herbstreit and Lisa Salters to Nippert Stadium. Ranked No. 4 in this week's Associated Press poll and No. 5 in the Bowl Championship Series, Cincinnati has been largely unchallenged in building an 8-0 record. But Connecticut handed the Bearcats their only conference loss last season, and the 4-4 Huskies are a mere sprinkling of points away from being unbeaten themselves. Connecticut's four losses have been by a combined 13 points.


Keep The Remote Handy At Noon

Two other key Big East games take place Saturday at noon. Pittsburgh (7-1, 4-0 Big East) looks to remain unbeaten in Big East play as the Panthers host Syracuse on ESPNU. The schools have met 64 times previously and Pitt holds a mere one-game lead in the all-time series (31-30-3). Saturday's Big East Network Game of the Week has West Virginia welcoming Louisville to Milan Puskar Stadium. The Cardinals look for their first win in Morgantown since 1990.


West Virginia's Williams Semifinalist For Campbell Trophy

West Virginia linebacker Reed Williams has been named to the 2009 National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame National Scholar-Athlete Class, making him one of 16 semifinalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy as the top scholar-athlete in college football. Williams' selection comes with an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. Williams was the Defensive Player of the Game in the 2007-08 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and has returned to his starting spot in 2009 after serving a medical redshirt in the 2008 season. Williams has a 3.86 cumulative grade-point average and is pursuing a second degree in marketing having already earned a bachelor's degree in finance. The Campbell Trophy, formerly known as the Draddy Trophy, last went to a Big East player in 2006, when Rutgers' Brian Leonard earned the honor.


Seven Big East Players Earn ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Accolades

In addition to his selection to the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class, West Virginia's Reed Williams is one of seven Big East players who have been chosen to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Teams by the College Sports Information Directors of America. West Virginia has three all-district picks with Williams joining offensive lineman Eric Jobe and kicker Josh Lider. Syracuse had a pair of selections in center Jim McKenzie and cornerback Kevyn Scott. Connecticut wide receiver Brad Kanuch and Pittsburgh defensive tackle Myles Caragein were also honored. All seven players are eligible for the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Team.



CINCINNATI vs. Connecticut
Sat 11/7
8:00 PM
ABC
Saturday's game will be the sixth meeting between Connecticut and Cincinnati … The Bearcats hold a 4-1 series lead, though the Huskies were 40-16 winners last season in East Hartford, Conn. … Connecticut's win last year marked Cincinnati's only Big East loss … Huskies RB Donald Brown ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns last year.

Connecticut is looking to snap a two-game slide … The Huskies' last two games (against West Virginia and Rutgers) have been eerily similar — the final score of both games was 28-24, the opening kickoffs in both were returned for touchdowns and both games saw the opponent rally for the go-ahead points just moments after Connecticut had taken the lead … Connecticut's four losses have been by a combined 13 points … Connecticut boasts the Big East's best backfield tandem in RB Andre Dixon (87.9 yards per game) and RB Jordan Todman (83.0 ypg) … Dixon and Todman are third and fourth in the Big East, respectively, in rushing and have a combined 15 rushing touchdowns … QB Cody Endres suffered a shoulder injury against Rutgers Saturday, had surgery Sunday and is likely lost for the season … WR Marcus Easley, who had gone without a touchdown in the first 26 games of his career, has a TD in four straight … DE Lindsey Witten leads the Big East with 10.5 sacks … LB Lawrence Wilson has a Big East-leading 86 tackles.

Cincinnati enters Saturday's game as one of seven unbeaten teams in the nation … The Bearcats are No. 4 in the Associated Press poll for their highest national ranking in school history … Cincinnati is No. 5 in this week's Bowl Championship Series standings … The Bearcats lead the Big East in scoring offense (39.1 ppg), scoring defense (12.9 ppg), total offense (454.0 ypg) and total defense (313.2 ypg) … Cincinnati has committed just four turnovers in eight games and is the only team in the nation that has not lost a fumble … QB Zach Collaros has started the last two games in place of injured Heisman Trophy candidate Tony Pike … Collaros has completed 63 of 47 passes (74.6 percent) for 749 yards and nine touchdowns and one interception … Pike, who is questionable for Saturday, has thrown for 1,633 yards and 15 TDs with just three interceptions … WR Mardy Gilyard has eight touchdown receptions and ranks third in the Big East in receiving yards (92.0 per game) and receptions (6.6 per game) … LB Alex Daniels leads the team with 5.5 sacks, while S Aaron Webster has a team-high three interceptions.


CONNECTICUT at Cincinnati
Sat 11/7
8:00 PM
ABC
Saturday's game will be the sixth meeting between Connecticut and Cincinnati … The Bearcats hold a 4-1 series lead, though the Huskies were 40-16 winners last season in East Hartford, Conn. … Connecticut's win last year marked Cincinnati's only Big East loss … Huskies RB Donald Brown ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns last year.

Connecticut is looking to snap a two-game slide … The Huskies' last two games (against West Virginia and Rutgers) have been eerily similar — the final score of both games was 28-24, the opening kickoffs in both were returned for touchdowns and both games saw the opponent rally for the go-ahead points just moments after Connecticut had taken the lead … Connecticut's four losses have been by a combined 13 points … Connecticut boasts the Big East's best backfield tandem in RB Andre Dixon (87.9 yards per game) and RB Jordan Todman (83.0 ypg) … Dixon and Todman are third and fourth in the Big East, respectively, in rushing and have a combined 15 rushing touchdowns … QB Cody Endres suffered a shoulder injury against Rutgers Saturday, had surgery Sunday and is likely lost for the season … WR Marcus Easley, who had gone without a touchdown in the first 26 games of his career, has a TD in four straight … DE Lindsey Witten leads the Big East with 10.5 sacks … LB Lawrence Wilson has a Big East-leading 86 tackles.

Cincinnati enters Saturday's game as one of seven unbeaten teams in the nation … The Bearcats are No. 4 in the Associated Press poll for their highest national ranking in school history … Cincinnati is No. 5 in this week's Bowl Championship Series standings … The Bearcats lead the Big East in scoring offense (39.1 ppg), scoring defense (12.9 ppg), total offense (454.0 ypg) and total defense (313.2 ypg) … Cincinnati has committed just four turnovers in eight games and is the only team in the nation that has not lost a fumble … QB Zach Collaros has started the last two games in place of injured Heisman Trophy candidate Tony Pike … Collaros has completed 63 of 47 passes (74.6 percent) for 749 yards and nine touchdowns and one interception … Pike, who is questionable for Saturday, has thrown for 1,633 yards and 15 TDs with just three interceptions … WR Mardy Gilyard has eight touchdown receptions and ranks third in the Big East in receiving yards (92.0 per game) and receptions (6.6 per game) … LB Alex Daniels leads the team with 5.5 sacks, while S Aaron Webster has a team-high three interceptions.


LOUISVILLE at West Virginia
Sat 11/7
12:00 PM
Big East Network
Saturday's game will be the 11th meeting between Louisville and West Virginia in a series that dates to 1984 … The Mountaineers are 8-2 against the Cardinals … West Virginia is 6-1 against Louisville at Milan Puskar Stadium … Louisville's last win in Morgantown was in the 1990 season … Last year's game in Louisville, Ky., saw both teams finish with more than 470 yards of offense in the Mountaineers' 35-21 win … West Virginia QB Pat White ran for 200 yards and three touchdowns and passed for two TDs.

Louisville snapped a two-game losing streak with a 21-13 win against Arkansas State last Saturday … The Cardinals are 3-1 at home and 0-4 on the road this season … Louisville has dropped eight straight Big East games and seven straight road games … The Cardinals have won seven of their last nine nonconference games … Louisville is 3-1 this season when the Cardinals surpass 400 yards of offense and 0-3 when they are held below 400 yards … Three different starting quarterbacks have led Louisville to wins this season … Dating to last season, the Cardinals have had a different QB start in each of their last four wins … Head coach Steve Kragthorpe has indicated that QBs Adam Froman, Justin Burke and Will Stein are all expected to be available for Saturday, though he did not announce a starter … LB Jon Dempsey is second in the Big East in tackles (10.0 per game), while LB Chris Campa is ninth (6.9).

West Virginia saw a four-game losing streak snapped with last Friday's loss at USF … The Mountaineers are 5-0 at home this year and have won six straight in Morgantown, dating to last season … RB Noel Devine ranks 10th nationally in rushing (119.3 yards per game) and looks to bounce back from a season-low 42-yard day against USF … Devine has run for at least 100 yards five times this season and 13 times in his career … QB Jarrett Brown is second in the Big East in total offense (232.0 yards per game) … Brown has thrown for 1,567 yards and nine touchdowns with seven interceptions … WR Jock Sanders is second in the Big East in receptions at 6.9 per game … LB Reed Williams was chosen as a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy as the nation's top scholar-athlete … S Robert Sands has three interceptions and five pass breakups for a Big East-leading eight passes defended … P Scott Kozlowski leads the Big East at 45.0 yards per punt.


PITTSBURGH vs. Syracuse
Sat 11/7
12:00 PM
ESPNU
The Syracuse-Pittsburgh rivalry dates to the 1916 season and includes 64 previous meetings … Pittsburgh holds a 31-30-3 series lead and has won the last four against Syracuse … The Panthers have won six of the last seven against Syracuse, though the Orange had won 11 straight from 1991-2001 … Last year's game saw Pittsburgh get two rushing touchdowns from LaRod Stephens-Howling and four field goals from Conor Lee in a 34-24 win at the Carrier Dome.

Syracuse takes to the road for just the second time in 2009 with Saturday's visit to Pittsburgh … The Orange have played seven of their first eight games at home and are 3-4 at the Carrier Dome … The lone road game to date was a 28-7 loss at Penn State … Syracuse will face Pitt without WR Mike Williams — the Orange's leading receiver who abruptly left the team Monday … Syracuse has the Big East's leading rushing defense (88.9 yards per game) … RB Delone Carter is ranked sixth in the Big East in rushing (72.5 yards per game) … Carter has rushed for 580 yards and eight touchdowns … Syracuse has used two quarterbacks in its regular offensive gameplan … QB Greg Paulus has thrown for 1,377 yards and 10 touchdowns, while QB Ryan Nassib has 247 yards and two TDs … LB Derrell Smith is fourth in the Big East in tackles (8.8 per game) and is the Orange leader in total tackles (70), sacks (6.5), tackles for loss (9.5) and forced fumbles (four) … S Max Suter is fifth in the Big East in tackles at 8.1 per game.

Pittsburgh returns from a bye week with a 7-1 overall record and sits in a tie for first place in the Big East standings at 4-0 in conference play … The Panthers are ranked No. 13 in this week's Bowl Championship Series standings, marking their highest BCS rank in school history … Pittsburgh is enjoying its best record through eight games since the 1982 season, when the Dan Marino-quarterbacked Panthers were also 7-1 … The Panthers are 17-5 in their last 22 games … Pittsburgh is eyeing just its second 5-0 start to a conference season in program history (2002) … Pittsburgh figures prominently among the NCAA statistical leaders with QB Bill Stull third in pass efficiency (161.09), RB Dion Lewis fourth in rushing (128.6 yards per game) and TE Dorin Dickerson second in touchdown receptions (nine) … Pitt leads the nation in sacks (4.13 per game) and rank first in the Big East (10th nationally) in sacks allowed (seven) … The Panthers have committed just eight turnovers to rank ninth nationally.


RUTGERS Open Date
Next Game
11/14
vs. USF
 

SYRACUSE at Pittsburgh
Sat 11/7
12:00 PM
ESPNU
The Syracuse-Pittsburgh rivalry dates to the 1916 season and includes 64 previous meetings … Pittsburgh holds a 31-30-3 series lead and has won the last four against Syracuse … The Panthers have won six of the last seven against Syracuse, though the Orange had won 11 straight from 1991-2001 … Last year's game saw Pittsburgh get two rushing touchdowns from LaRod Stephens-Howling and four field goals from Conor Lee in a 34-24 win at the Carrier Dome.

Syracuse takes to the road for just the second time in 2009 with Saturday's visit to Pittsburgh … The Orange have played seven of their first eight games at home and are 3-4 at the Carrier Dome … The lone road game to date was a 28-7 loss at Penn State … Syracuse will face Pitt without WR Mike Williams — the Orange's leading receiver who abruptly left the team Monday … Syracuse has the Big East's leading rushing defense (88.9 yards per game) … RB Delone Carter is ranked sixth in the Big East in rushing (72.5 yards per game) … Carter has rushed for 580 yards and eight touchdowns … Syracuse has used two quarterbacks in its regular offensive gameplan … QB Greg Paulus has thrown for 1,377 yards and 10 touchdowns, while QB Ryan Nassib has 247 yards and two TDs … LB Derrell Smith is fourth in the Big East in tackles (8.8 per game) and is the Orange leader in total tackles (70), sacks (6.5), tackles for loss (9.5) and forced fumbles (four) … S Max Suter is fifth in the Big East in tackles at 8.1 per game.

Pittsburgh returns from a bye week with a 7-1 overall record and sits in a tie for first place in the Big East standings at 4-0 in conference play … The Panthers are ranked No. 13 in this week's Bowl Championship Series standings, marking their highest BCS rank in school history … Pittsburgh is enjoying its best record through eight games since the 1982 season, when the Dan Marino-quarterbacked Panthers were also 7-1 … The Panthers are 17-5 in their last 22 games … Pittsburgh is eyeing just its second 5-0 start to a conference season in program history (2002) … Pittsburgh figures prominently among the NCAA statistical leaders with QB Bill Stull third in pass efficiency (161.09), RB Dion Lewis fourth in rushing (128.6 yards per game) and TE Dorin Dickerson second in touchdown receptions (nine) … Pitt leads the nation in sacks (4.13 per game) and rank first in the Big East (10th nationally) in sacks allowed (seven) … The Panthers have committed just eight turnovers to rank ninth nationally.


USF Open Date
Next Game
11/14
at Rutgers
 

WEST VIRGINIA vs. Louisville
Sat 11/7
12:00 PM
Big East Network
Saturday's game will be the 11th meeting between Louisville and West Virginia in a series that dates to 1984 … The Mountaineers are 8-2 against the Cardinals … West Virginia is 6-1 against Louisville at Milan Puskar Stadium … Louisville's last win in Morgantown was in the 1990 season … Last year's game in Louisville, Ky., saw both teams finish with more than 470 yards of offense in the Mountaineers' 35-21 win … West Virginia QB Pat White ran for 200 yards and three touchdowns and passed for two TDs.

Louisville snapped a two-game losing streak with a 21-13 win against Arkansas State last Saturday … The Cardinals are 3-1 at home and 0-4 on the road this season … Louisville has dropped eight straight Big East games and seven straight road games … The Cardinals have won seven of their last nine nonconference games … Louisville is 3-1 this season when the Cardinals surpass 400 yards of offense and 0-3 when they are held below 400 yards … Three different starting quarterbacks have led Louisville to wins this season … Dating to last season, the Cardinals have had a different QB start in each of their last four wins … Head coach Steve Kragthorpe has indicated that QBs Adam Froman, Justin Burke and Will Stein are all expected to be available for Saturday, though he did not announce a starter … LB Jon Dempsey is second in the Big East in tackles (10.0 per game), while LB Chris Campa is ninth (6.9).

West Virginia saw a four-game losing streak snapped with last Friday's loss at USF … The Mountaineers are 5-0 at home this year and have won six straight in Morgantown, dating to last season … RB Noel Devine ranks 10th nationally in rushing (119.3 yards per game) and looks to bounce back from a season-low 42-yard day against USF … Devine has run for at least 100 yards five times this season and 13 times in his career … QB Jarrett Brown is second in the Big East in total offense (232.0 yards per game) … Brown has thrown for 1,567 yards and nine touchdowns with seven interceptions … WR Jock Sanders is second in the Big East in receptions at 6.9 per game … LB Reed Williams was chosen as a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy as the nation's top scholar-athlete … S Robert Sands has three interceptions and five pass breakups for a Big East-leading eight passes defended … P Scott Kozlowski leads the Big East at 45.0 yards per punt.


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