Big East Preview

A 4-4 opening weekend has Big East teams looking for redemption in Week Two of the 2010 season.

LACK OF PROTECTION

Cincinnati gave up eight sacks in its loss to Fresno State, including three on successive plays. That resulted in a total of just 15 rushing yards for the Bearcats.


TRAVEL TIME

Syracuse and Rutgers face tough road tests this week outside their geographic areas. The Orange make the cross-country trek to Seattle to face Washington Saturday (7 p.m., FSN Northwest) looking for their first 2-0 start since 1999. The Scarlet Knights, meanwhile, head to Miami to face Florida International (8 p.m., Big East Network), which is coached by former Rutgers assistant Mario Cristobal. The game is being billed as the biggest home date in FIU's brief history.


ZEROING OUT

Rutgers is the only team in the nation that has registered at least one shutout in each of the past five seasons. The Scarlet Knights downed Norfolk State 31-0 last week, holding the visitors without a third-down conversion.


PUSHOVER?

Pittsburgh plays New Hampshire, a member of the Championship Subdivision, this week. The Wildcats have won their last five games against Bowl Subdivision teams.


GIMME A BREAK

Syracuse has already lost six players for the season, according to the Big East injury report. cornerback RiShard Anderson, tight end Cody Catalina, fullback Carl Cutler, defensive lineman Ollie Haney, defensive end Jared Kimmel, and wide receiver Jarrod West are all out for the year.

Wide receiver has been the most fragile position so far this year, with five league receivers out for the year. Included in that number are Cincinnati's Vidal Hazelton, UConn's Geremy Davis, Louisville's Michaelee Harris and Rutgers' Tim Wright.



CINCINNATI vs. Indiana St
Sat 9/11
12:00 PM
FSN Ohio
Cincinnati and Indiana State meet for the fourth time Saturday … The Bearcats hold a 3-1 series lead …The series began in 1972 and Indiana State scored its only win in 1987 … The last matchup was in Nov. 12, 1988, when the Bearcats took a 40-21 win at Nippert Stadium … Cincinnati has outscored its last four Bowl Subdivision opponents by a combined 130-13 margin.

Cincinnati's 18-game regular-season winning streak came to an end in the Bearcats' season-opener, a 28-14 loss at Fresno State … The Bearcats took an early 14-0 lead, but saw Fresno State rally to score the last 28 points … Cincinnati lost more than its winning streak as WR Vidal Hazelton went down with a season-ending knee injury in the second half … Hazelton, who did not play last season after transferring from Southern California, had six catches for 63 yards and 41 yards on kickoff returns in his Cincinnati debut … QB Zach Collaros completed 24 of 41 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown, but was sacked eight times in the opener … WR D.J. Woods had 117 all-purpose yards against Fresno State with six receptions for 72 yards and a 37-yard kickoff return … RB Isaiah Pead was the leading rusher with 36 yards on 10 carries … Cincinnati was held to just 15 net rushing yards against Fresno State … The Bearcats held the Bulldogs to 49 rushing yards and just a 3-for-13 showing on third-down conversions … Cincinnati denied Fresno State on the Bulldogs' first six possessions, but allowed touchdowns on four of the next five.

Indiana State, which had won just two games in the previous five seasons, got its 2010 season off to a promising start with a 57-7 win against Division II Saint Joseph's (Ind.) … The Sycamores reeled off 514 yards of offense, including 371 rushing yards, on its way to the easy win … Indiana State had 23 first downs and averaged 7.9 yards per play… The Sycamores scored seven rushing touchdowns and had another score on a blocked punt return … RB Darius Gates and RB Shakir Bell both had 100-yard efforts with Gates going for 160 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries and Bell getting 133 yards and a TD on 11 attempts … QB Ronnie Fouch completed 10 of 21 passes for 143 yards, with WR Bryan Kent and WR Justin Jones finishing with three receptions each … DT Rod Hardy had three sacks, a forced fumble and a pass breakup and also scored a rushing touchdown as part of the goal-line offense … Indiana State faced a BIG EAST team last season, when the Sycamores fell 30-10 to Louisville … Indiana State had lost 33 straight until an Oct. 24, 2009, win against Western Illinois and has won two of its last five games.


CONNECTICUT vs Texas Southern
Sat 9/11
12:00 PM
Big East Local
Saturday's game will be the first meeting between Connecticut and Texas Southern … It is the second consecutive week in which Connecticut, which visited Michigan last Saturday, faces a first-time opponent … Since joining the Bowl Subdivision, Connecticut has gone 7-1 against Championship Subdivision schools … Texas Southern last faced a BIG EAST team in 2009, when Rutgers was a 42-0 winner.

Connecticut played its 2010 opener in front of the largest crowd in college football history, but the Huskies came up short in a 30-10 loss at Michigan in front of 113,090 in Ann Arbor, Mich. … The 20-point loss was the largest margin of defeat for Connecticut since a 34-10 setback to Pittsburgh Dec. 6, 2008 … Connecticut's five losses in 2009 were by a combined 15 points … Connecticut had threatened to close within a touchdown late in the third quarter, but an untimely fumble gave the Wolverines the ball and Michigan instead went ahead by 20 points after the ensuing possession … RB Jordan Todman rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries for his sixth career 100-yard game … QB Zach Frazer completed 18 of 37 passes for 205 yards … Connecticut's defense allowed 473 yards against Michigan, including 287 rushing yards … The Huskies did not gain a turnover, despite forcing three fumbles against the Wolverines … LB Lawrence Wilson, who led the BIG EAST in tackles last season, had a game-high 12 stops against Michigan, while LB Greg Lloyd had 11 stops, including two tackles for losses … Connecticut had just three second-half possessions against Michigan as the Huskies had the ball for just 9:09 of the second half … Connecticut was 3-for-6 on fourth-down conversions.

Texas Southern opened the 2010 season with a 16-14 loss to Prairie View A&M in the State Farm Labor Day Classic at Reliant Stadium in Houston … A crowd of 22,062 was on hand for the Southwestern Athletic Conference opener for both teams … Texas Southern forced 12 punts against Prairie View and had the advantage in first downs (20-12), rushing (167-22), passing (206-126) and total offense (373-148), but was undone by four interceptions … QB Arvell Nelson completed 21 of 40 passes for 206 yards and a touchdown … RB Marcus Wright had 92 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries … WR William Osborne had seven receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown … Texas Southern led the SWAC in passing last season at 249 yards per game … Just three years removed from an 0-11 season, Texas Southern was 6-5 last season and finished second in the SWAC West Division … The Tigers won five of their last six in 2009 … LB Jashaad Gaines had seven tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery against Prairie View.


LOUISVILLE vs. E. Kentucky
Sat 9/11
3:30 PM
Big East Local
Saturday's game will be the 26th meeting between Louisville and Eastern Kentucky in a series that dates to the 1927 season … The Cardinals hold a 16-8-1 series lead … The schools last met in 1991, when Louisville was a 24-14 winner … Louisville's last loss to a Championship Subdivision school was a 45-21 win by Eastern Kentucky in 1985 … Louisville is 9-3-1 all-time at home against the Colonels and have won eight of the last nine in the series … Louisville is 104 miles from Richmond, Ky., the site of Eastern Kentucky's campus.

Louisville dropped a 23-16 decision to Kentucky in Charlie Strong's first game as the Cardinals' head coach … The game was played in front of a record crowd of 55,327 at the newly expanded Papa John's Cardinal Stadium … The Cardinals trailed 20-6 at halftime, but closed to within a touchdown late in the fourth quarter … Through the first week of 2010, Louisville ranks third nationally in kickoff returns (45.5 yards per return) and seventh nationally in punt returns (28.0 ypr) … RB Bilal Powell turned in the best performance of his career — and the best by a BIG EAST back in Week 1 — with 153 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries … QB Adam Froman was 14-for-29 for 127 yards and an interception … WR Doug Beaumont had a team-high 40 receiving yards on three catches … S Shenard Holton finished with a team-high nine tackles … K Chris Philpott scored 10 of the Cardinals' 16 points against Kentucky with three field goals and a PAT … Following the game against Eastern Kentucky, Louisville plays its next two on the road with dates at Oregon State and Arkansas State.

Eastern Kentucky was on the short end of a 31-9 score against Missouri State in the Colonels' season-opener … The game was supposed to have been played last Thursday, but the teams sat through a three-hour delay due to lightning before the game was moved to last Friday … The Colonels were limited to just 35 rushing yards, but still had 350 yards of offense … QB T.J. Pryor — a native of Louisville and the 2009 Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year — completed 22 of 47 passes for 315 yards and two interceptions … Pryor was sacked six times … Three different receivers had at least 65 receiving yards, including WR Tyrone Goard, who had five catches for 89 yards … K Logan O'Connor hit three field goals in four attempts to account for all of Eastern Kentucky's scoring … Eastern Kentucky's special teams blocked a punt in the third quarter, marking the eighth time in the last 12 games at the Colonels had at least one block … The Colonels were 5-6 last year, with two of the losses coming to Bowl Subdivision opponents (Indiana and Kentucky) … Eastern Kentucky is facing an FBS team for the 11th consecutive year … The Colonels have won 20 OVC championships, including back-to-back conference titles in 2007 and 2008.


PITTSBURGH vs. New Hampshire
Sat 9/11
1:00 PM
ESPN3.com
Saturday's game will be the first meeting between Pittsburgh and New Hampshire … The Panthers are 7-0 all-time against current members of the Colonial Athletic Association (2-0 against Villanova, 5-0 against William & Mary), though their most recent game against a CAA opponent was a 48-41 win against Villanova Sept. 5, 1998.

Pittsburgh was outgained by a 405-266 margin and was held to just 82 rushing yards, yet the Panthers still had a chance to get an Opening Day win at Utah before falling 27-24 in overtime … Trailing by three points at the end of regulation, Pitt had a first down from the Utah 14-yard line, but had to settle for a 30-yard field goal at the final gun … RB Dion Lewis had 25 carries for 75 yards — a career low — with one touchdown … QB Tino Sunseri made his first career start and completed 16 of 28 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown with one interception … WR Jon Baldwin had 71 yards on four receptions, including a 44-yard touchdown … Pittsburgh's defense, which led the nation in sacks last season, could not get to Utah's quarterback and the Panthers made just one tackle behind the line of scrimmage … LB Dan Mason and LB Max Gruder had a team-high seven tackles each … The Panthers allowed Utah to convert 7 of 14 third downs … Pittsburgh's last four losses, dating to last season, have been by a combined 14 points … The game against New Hampshire is the first of three straight home games for Pittsburgh … Pitt is the favorite in the 2010 BIG EAST preseason media poll after the Panthers received 22 of a possible 24 first-place votes.

New Hampshire opened its season with a 33-3 win against Central Connecticut State last Saturday in Durham, N.H. … The Wildcats returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and were comfortably ahead for most of the game … New Hampshire is ranked No. 5 in this week's Championship Subdivision coaches poll after beginning the season at No. 9 … The Wildcats have had four 10-win seasons in the last six years, including back-to-back 10-3 campaigns in 2008 and 2009 … New Hampshire is one of seven CAA teams ranked in this week's FCS top 25 … New Hampshire has won its last five games against Bowl Subdivision teams, defeating Ball State (23-16), Army (28-10), Marshall (48-35), Northwestern (34-17), and Rutgers (35-24) … The Wildcats advanced to the second round of the 2009 NCAA Division I Championship, where it fell to eventual national champion Villanova … New Hampshire has made six straight NCAA appearances … RB Dontra Peters ran for 197 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries in the opening win against Central Connecticut … QB R.J. Toman completed 9 of 15 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown … LB Matt Evans had a game-high 14 tackles.


RUTGERS vs. Florida Int
Sat 9/11
8:00 PM
Big East Local
Saturday's game will be just the second matchup between Rutgers and Florida International … The Scarlet Knights took last year's meeting 23-15 at Rutgers Stadium behind a 121-yard day by RB Joe Martinek and three field goals by K San San Te … Rutgers held the Golden Panthers to 42 rushing yards and registered five sacks … Florida International head coach Mario Cristobal was an assistant at Rutgers from 2001-03.

It took Rutgers roughly a half to get going, but in the end, the Scarlet Knights proved too much for Norfolk State in a 31-0 win last Thursday … Rutgers managed two firsthalf field goals, the second coming at the second-quarter gun, to cling to a 6-0 lead at halftime before the Scarlet Knights took control in the third quarter … Rutgers limited Norfolk State to 156 total yards and just 25 rushing yards … The special teams unit blocked two punts — both by BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Week Brandon Bing … RB Joe Martinek ran for 109 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries for his fifth career 100-yard game … QB Tom Savage completed 10 of 19 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown, while RB Mohamed Sanu had three receptions for 65 yards … LB Steve Beauharnais had a team-high seven tackles, while DE Alex Silvestro had four tackles for loss and a sack among his five total tackles … Rutgers was 5-for-5 in red zone scoring chances … The Scarlet Knights held Norfolk State without a thirddown conversion in 12 attempts … Since 2009, Rutgers has held seven opponents to less than 50 rushing yards and has gone 7-0 in those games … Rutgers plays five consecutive home games following this weekend's trip to Miami.

Florida International will open its 2010 season with Saturday's game against Rutgers in what is being billed as the biggest home game in the program's brief history … Florida International began playing football in 2002, joined the Bowl Subdivision in 2004 and became a member of the Sun Belt Conference in 2005 … Head coach Mario Cristobal inherited a team that went 0-12 in 2006 and has won nine games in the past three years, including a 5-7 season in 2008 … The Golden Panthers were 3-9 last season and were the only team outside the Southeastern Conference to play both Alabama and Florida … The wins were against Western Kentucky (37-20), Louisiana (20-17 in overtime) and North Texas (35-28) … The Golden Panthers have a challenging schedule ahead of them in 2010 with road games at Texas A&M, Maryland and Pittsburgh following Saturday's opener … The top player is WR Ty Hilton, who had 57 receptions for 632 yards and five touchdowns and averaged 28.8 yards on 22 kickoff returns last season.


SYRACUSE at Washington
Sat 9/11
7:00 PM
FSN Northwest
Saturday's game will be the fourth meeting between Syracuse and Washington … The Huskies hold a 2-1 series lead after a 42-12 win at the Carrier Dome to start the 2007 season … The Orange held a 3-0 lead after the first quarter, but trailed 14-6 at halftime before Washington reeled off 21 third-quarter points … The game marked the debut of Washington QB Jake Locker, who threw for 142 yards and ran for 83 yards and two TDs.

Syracuse was solid in just about all phases of a 29-3 on the road against Akron in the Orange's season-opener last Saturday … The win was Syracuse's first in a seasonopener since 2003 (49-47 against North Carolina in three overtimes) and it was the first road win of Doug Marone's head coaching career … The Syracuse defense held Akron to just 166 yards of offense, 55 rushing yards and nine first downs and forced the Zips to go three-and-out seven times in 14 possessions … The offense, meanwhile, had 202 rushing yards and 229 passing yards … QB Ryan Nassib was named BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week after he completed 17 of 27 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 58 yards on nine carries … RB Delone Carter carried 26 times for 91 yards and a touchdown … WR Van Chew had three receptions for a game-high 79 yards, including a diving catch in the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown … CB Mike Holmes was tabbed as BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week after he had six tackles, a sack and a 55-yard touchdown on a blocked field goal return … P Rob Long averaged 44.8 yards on five punts, including a 70-yard effort and K Ross Krautman hit a 47-yard field goal … Syracuse is the only BIG EAST team to open with back-to-back road games … The Orange play their next two at home following the trip to Seattle.

Washington plays its home-opener Saturday after the Huskies dropped a 23-17 decision at Brigham Young last weekend … After going 0-12 in 2008, Washington turned to head coach Steve Sarkisian, who led the Huskies to a 5-7 mark in 2009 … Washington saw 13 true freshmen play in the season-opener against Brigham Young … Prior to that game, Washington had not had more than 12 true freshmen play in a season … QB Jake Locker is being touted as a Heisman Trophy candidate … Locker was 20-for-37 for 266 yards and a touchdown and added a rushing touchdown against BYU …RB Chris Polk ran for 92 yards on 16 carries … WR Jermaine Kearse had five receptions for 108 yards … Washington's three-game nonconference schedule includes Brigham Young, Syracuse and Nebraska … Washington is 4-5 all-time against current members of the BIG EAST.


USF at Florida
Sat 9/11
12:20 PM
SEC Network
USF has faced every Division I school in the Sunshine State except Florida prior to Saturday's game, which will be the first meeting between the Bulls and Gators … USF is 1-4 all-time against the Southeastern Conference, with the lone win coming in 2007, when the Bulls defeated Auburn 26-23 in overtime … The BIG EAST is 4-3 all-time against Florida … The Gators will face a BIG EAST opponent for the second time in a three-game span after Florida defeated Cincinnati 51-24 in the 2010 Allstate Sugar Bowl.

USF found itself in an early deficit against Stony Brook in Week 1, but the Bulls were able to regroup and score 52 unanswered points in what turned out to be a 59-14 win at Raymond James Stadium … It was the first win at USF for Skip Holtz, who is just the second head coach in program history … The Bulls had 563 yards of offense, including 383 passing yards … QB B.J. Daniels threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns on 15-for-22 passing, while QB Bobby Eveld came on in relief to complete 9 of 12 for 119 yards and one TD … Daniels completed a 59-yard touchdown pass on USF's first offensive play … RB Marcus Shaw was the leading rusher with 86 yards on four carries, including a 63-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter … WR Evan Landi had five catches for 92 yards and was one of 10 different USF players to catch a pass … The Bulls scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams … The USF defense had four interceptions, including a 33-yard return for a touchdown by Mark Joyce … The Bulls play their next four games at home following the trip to Gainesville.

Florida had a tougher time than expected, but still managed to take a 34-12 win against Miami (Ohio) in the Gators' season-opener … In their first game since the graduation of all-America quarterback Tim Tebow, the Gators managed an uncharacteristically low 212 yards and fumbled eight times … The Florida defense was consistent, however, as the Gators similarly held the RedHawks to 212 yards and had four interceptions … QB Jon Brantley made his first career start and went 17-for-25 for 113 yards and two touchdowns … RB Jeff Demps had eight carries for 98 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown run … Florida has won 21 consecutive regular-season games … Florida head coach Urban Meyer served as an assistant at Notre Dame under Lou Holtz — the father of USF coach Skip Holtz — from 1996- 2000 … Meyer has led Florida to BCS National Championships in 2006 and 2008 … He is the only coach to win two BCS titles.


WEST VIRGINIA at Marshall
Fri 9/10
7:00 PM
ESPN
Friday's game will be the 10th meeting between West Virginia and Marshall and the Mountaineers have taken all nine previous meetings … The schools first met in 1911 and played four times between then and 1923 … The teams resumed acquaintances in 1997 and have met in each of the last four years … Last year's meeting in Morgantown, W.Va., saw Mountaineer RB Noel Devine rush for 103 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries in a 24-7 win … QB Geno Smith completed 15 of 21 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown off the bench.

West Virginia opened its season in impressive fashion as the Mountaineers cruised to a 31-0 win against Coastal Carolina at Milan Puskar Stadium … The Mountaineers not only kept the Chanticleers off the scoreboard, they didn't allow the visitors to cross the 20-yard line … West Virginia limited Coastal Carolina to 186 yards of offense … RB Noel Devine turned in his 16th career game with at least 100 rushing yards and moved into eighth place on the BIG EAST's career rushing chart (3,492 yards) … Devine, who ran for 111 yards and a touchdown in the opener, needs 105 yards to tie Mike Cloud of Boston College for seventh on the all-time chart … QB Geno Smith made his first career start and turned in a solid 20-of-27, 216-yard effort with two touchdown passes … WR Jock Sanders had game highs of eight receptions and 71 receiving yards with a touchdown … DB Terence Garvin had a team-high 10 tackles in the season-opener … P Gregg Pugnetti averaged 49.2 yards per punt, hit a long punt of 71 yards and twice pinned Coastal Carolina on the 1-yard line.

Marshall fell to No. 2/2 Ohio State 45-7 in its season opener last Thursday … The Thundering Herd fumbled the opening kickoff and trailed by a touchdown after just four plays … Head coach Doc Holliday is a 1979 graduate of West Virginia who was the associate head coach for the Mountaineers from 2008-09 … Holliday also won a BCS National Championship as the associate head coach at Florida, where he was on the staff with current Louisville head coach Charlie Strong … Holliday is the 29th head coach in program history … Defensive coordinator Chris Rippon was Rutgers' special teams coordinator in 2009 and also served as an assistant and coordinator at Syracuse for 12 years … Marshall was held to 199 yards of offense in the opener against Ohio State … The Herd's touchdown came on a 61-yard blocked field goal return by CB Ahmed Shakoor … QB Brian Anderson completed 17 of 28 passes for 135 yards and one interception against Ohio State … WR Antavious Wilson had team highs of five receptions and 38 receiving yards … Marshall was 7-6 overall and 4-4 in Conference USA last season.


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