Big East Football Preview

Big East Football Preview

The Backyard Brawl highlights an important week of league action as teams race for the prize of a BCS bid.


CINCINNATI at Connecticut
Sat 11/27
12:00 PM
Big East
Cincinnati and Connecticut have met six times prior to Saturday's game … The Bearcats hold a 5-1 series lead … Connecticut was a 40-16 winner 2008 in the last game at Rentschler Field, giving Cincinnati its only BIG EAST loss that season … Last year's game saw Connecticut nearly overcome a 30-10 halftime deficit before Cincinnati held on for a 47-45 win at Nippert Stadium … Cincinnati QB Zach Collaros threw for 480 yards and a touchdown and added two rushing TDs to offset a 162-yard, four-TD effort by Connecticut RB Jordan Todman.

Cincinnati snapped a three-game losing streak in emphatic fashion with a 69-38 win against Rutgers that stands as the highest-scoring game in BIG EAST history … Cincinnati has scored 35, 40, 45 and 69 points in its four wins and has gone 0-6 when it has scored 30 points or fewer … Cincinnati leads the BIG EAST in total offense (434.2 yards per game), scoring offense (29.8 ppg) and passing offense (273.1 ypg) … QB Zach Collaros leads the BIG EAST in passing (278.3 yards per game) and total offense (286.2 ypg) … Collaros has thrown for 2,505 yards and 24 touchdowns against seven interceptions … RB Isaiah Pead is third in the BIG EAST in rushing at 101.0 yards per game after rushing for 213 yards and four touchdowns against Rutgers … Pead enters Saturday's game with 909 yards and six TDs this season … WR Armon Binns has 63 receptions for 965 yards and nine touchdowns and leads the BIG EAST in all three categories … LB J.K. Schaffer is second in the conference in tackles (9.2 per game).

Connecticut has won three straight games to move into a tie for second place in the BIG EAST standings … The Huskies have a shot at the outright BIG EAST title, but would also win any tiebreakers should Connecticut tie for the championship … Connecticut is 5-0 at home … The Huskies have forced a BIG EAST-leading 21 turnovers … The Huskies have scored three touchdowns on interception returns and two on kickoff returns … RB Jordan Todman enters the game ranked second nationally in rushing (145.1 yards per game) … Todman has rushed for 1,306 yards and 11 touchdowns on 238 carries … QB Zach Frazer has thrown for 969 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions in eight games … WR Michael Smith has 33 receptions for 499 yards and two touchdowns, while WR Kashif Moore has 30 catches for 368 yards and four TDs … LB Lawrence Wilson leads the BIG EAST in tackles (103 total, 10.3 per game) … DE Jesse Joseph has 7.5 sacks, good for fifth in the BIG EAST, while LB Sio Moore is fifth in the conference with 10.5 tackles for loss … K Dave Teggart is the BIG EAST's leading scorer at 8.2 points per game.


CONNECTICUT vs. Cincinnati
Sat 11/27
12:00 PM
Big East
Cincinnati and Connecticut have met six times prior to Saturday's game … The Bearcats hold a 5-1 series lead … Connecticut was a 40-16 winner 2008 in the last game at Rentschler Field, giving Cincinnati its only BIG EAST loss that season … Last year's game saw Connecticut nearly overcome a 30-10 halftime deficit before Cincinnati held on for a 47-45 win at Nippert Stadium … Cincinnati QB Zach Collaros threw for 480 yards and a touchdown and added two rushing TDs to offset a 162-yard, four-TD effort by Connecticut RB Jordan Todman.

Cincinnati snapped a three-game losing streak in emphatic fashion with a 69-38 win against Rutgers that stands as the highest-scoring game in BIG EAST history … Cincinnati has scored 35, 40, 45 and 69 points in its four wins and has gone 0-6 when it has scored 30 points or fewer … Cincinnati leads the BIG EAST in total offense (434.2 yards per game), scoring offense (29.8 ppg) and passing offense (273.1 ypg) … QB Zach Collaros leads the BIG EAST in passing (278.3 yards per game) and total offense (286.2 ypg) … Collaros has thrown for 2,505 yards and 24 touchdowns against seven interceptions … RB Isaiah Pead is third in the BIG EAST in rushing at 101.0 yards per game after rushing for 213 yards and four touchdowns against Rutgers … Pead enters Saturday's game with 909 yards and six TDs this season … WR Armon Binns has 63 receptions for 965 yards and nine touchdowns and leads the BIG EAST in all three categories … LB J.K. Schaffer is second in the conference in tackles (9.2 per game).

Connecticut has won three straight games to move into a tie for second place in the BIG EAST standings … The Huskies have a shot at the outright BIG EAST title, but would also win any tiebreakers should Connecticut tie for the championship … Connecticut is 5-0 at home … The Huskies have forced a BIG EAST-leading 21 turnovers … The Huskies have scored three touchdowns on interception returns and two on kickoff returns … RB Jordan Todman enters the game ranked second nationally in rushing (145.1 yards per game) … Todman has rushed for 1,306 yards and 11 touchdowns on 238 carries … QB Zach Frazer has thrown for 969 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions in eight games … WR Michael Smith has 33 receptions for 499 yards and two touchdowns, while WR Kashif Moore has 30 catches for 368 yards and four TDs … LB Lawrence Wilson leads the BIG EAST in tackles (103 total, 10.3 per game) … DE Jesse Joseph has 7.5 sacks, good for fifth in the BIG EAST, while LB Sio Moore is fifth in the conference with 10.5 tackles for loss … K Dave Teggart is the BIG EAST's leading scorer at 8.2 points per game.


LOUISVILLE at Rutgers
Fri 11/26
11:00 AM
ESPN2
Friday's game will be the 10th meeting between Louisville and Rutgers as the Scarlet Knights enter with a 7-2 series lead … The schools met four times between 1976 and 1986 and have played every year since 2005 … Rutgers has won the last two meetings, including a 34-14 win at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium last year … The 2006 game at Rutgers Stadium is one of the best-known games in BIG EAST history as the 15th ranked Scarlet Knights defeated third-ranked Louisville 41-38 on a lastminute field goal by Jeremy Ito.

Louisville, quite simply, is playing to keep playing as the Cardinals need a win against Rutgers to attain bowl eligibility for the first time since 2006 … The Cardinals are 2-2 on the road this season … Louisville ranks second in the BIG EAST in total offense (371.1 yards per game) … RB Bilal Powell enters Friday's game second in the BIG EAST and eighth nationally in rushing (120.7 yards per game) … Powell has rushed for 1,207 yards and nine touchdowns, but was slowed by illness and West Virginia's defense to zero net yards last Saturday … QB Justin Burke has started the last three games in place of injured QB Adam Froman … Burke has thrown six touchdown passes with three interceptions in six games this season … WR Doug Beaumont leads a group of three players with at least 300 receiving yards … WR Josh Bellamy has five touchdown receptions to lead the Cardinals … Freshman SS Hakeem Smith has a team-high 74 tackles … LB Daniel Brown has four sacks and a team-leading 11 tackles for loss … DT Rodney Gnat is fourth in the BIG EAST with eight sacks … CB Johnny Patrick has a team-high three interceptions.

Rutgers needs wins in its final two games to secure bowl eligibility … The Scarlet Knights scored a season-high 38 points against Cincinnati last Saturday, but the Bearcats scored 69 points to produce the highest-scoring game in BIG EAST history … Rutgers is 3-3 at home … Freshman QB Chas Dodd turned in the best outing of his young career in the loss to Cincinnati, throwing for 335 yards and four touchdowns … WR Mark Harrison tied a BIG EAST single-game record with four touchdown receptions as part of his 10-catch, 240-yard effort … Rutgers was held to -9 rushing yards against Cincinnati and is 112th nationally in rushing at 99.9 yards per game … Rutgers' top two rushers are wide receivers who double as Wildcat quarterbacks … WR Mohamed Sanu has a team-high 309 rushing yards with four touchdowns to go with 398 receiving yards and two touchdown catches … LB Antonio Lowery has a team-high 86 tackles, good for third in the BIG EAST … Rutgers leads the BIG EAST in turnover margin (0.70 per game) … The Scarlet Knights have scored three special teams touchdowns and have blocked five kicks this season.


PITTSBURGH vs. West Virginia
Fri 11/26
12:00 PM
ABC
The Backyard Brawl is the oldest and most-played active BIG EAST rivalry … Pittsburgh and West Virginia first met in 1895 and have played 102 times prior to Friday's game … The schools have met every year since 1943 … Pittsburgh holds a 61-38-3 series lead … West Virginia took last year's Brawl 19-16 at Milan Puskar Stadium … The most memorable recent matchup was in 2007, when Pittsburgh scored a 13-9 win in Morgantown to keep West Virginia from a likely spot in the BCS National Championship Game.

West Virginia enters the Backyard Brawl as the winner of two straight and comes in one game behind Pittsburgh in the BIG EAST standings … The Mountaineers would clinch at least a share of the BIG EAST title with wins in their last two games … A loss to Pittsburgh would eliminate the Mountaineers from the BIG EAST race … West Virginia remains the only team in the nation that has not allowed more than 21 points in a game this season … The Mountaineers rank fourth nationally in scoring defense (12.9 ppg) and total defense (245.1 ypg) while leading the BIG EAST in both categories … West Virginia ranks fifth nationally in sacks (3.2 per game) … RB Noel Devine has rushed for 828 yards and six touchdowns … QB Geno Smith has thrown for 2,003 yards and 19 touchdowns with six interceptions … WR Jock Sanders is second in the BIG EAST in receptions (5.4 per game), while WR Tavon Austin is fourth (4.5 per game) … CB Keith Tandy leads the BIG EAST with six interceptions while DE Bruce Irvin has a conference-leading 10 sacks.

Pittsburgh enters its last two regular-season games in the proverbial driver's seat with regard to the BIG EAST championship … The Panthers would win the outright BIG EAST title for the first time if they win their remaining two games … Pittsburgh would claim at least a share of the BIG EAST championship with a win against West Virginia … Pittsburgh's only BIG EAST title to date was in 2004, when the Panthers were part of a four-way tie for first … The Panthers are 4-1 at home this season … QB Tino Sunseri has completed 66.7 percent of his passes (172 of 258) and has thrown for 2,034 yards and 14 touchdowns with just six interceptions … RB Ray Graham (89.3 yards per game, eight touchdowns) and RB Dion Lewis (73.4 ypg, eight touchdowns) make for one of the top backfield tandems in the nation … WR Jon Baldwin has 42 receptions for 677 yards and five touchdowns … In addition to the running back tandem, the Panthers boast a top-flight defensive end duo … DE Brandon Lindsey is tied for the conference lead in sacks (10) and is the outright leader in tackles for loss (14) … DE Jabaal Sheard is third in the BIG EAST with nine sacks.


RUTGERS vs. Louisville
Fri 11/26
11:00 AM
ESPN2
Friday's game will be the 10th meeting between Louisville and Rutgers as the Scarlet Knights enter with a 7-2 series lead … The schools met four times between 1976 and 1986 and have played every year since 2005 … Rutgers has won the last two meetings, including a 34-14 win at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium last year … The 2006 game at Rutgers Stadium is one of the best-known games in BIG EAST history as the 15th ranked Scarlet Knights defeated third-ranked Louisville 41-38 on a lastminute field goal by Jeremy Ito.

Louisville, quite simply, is playing to keep playing as the Cardinals need a win against Rutgers to attain bowl eligibility for the first time since 2006 … The Cardinals are 2-2 on the road this season … Louisville ranks second in the BIG EAST in total offense (371.1 yards per game) … RB Bilal Powell enters Friday's game second in the BIG EAST and eighth nationally in rushing (120.7 yards per game) … Powell has rushed for 1,207 yards and nine touchdowns, but was slowed by illness and West Virginia's defense to zero net yards last Saturday … QB Justin Burke has started the last three games in place of injured QB Adam Froman … Burke has thrown six touchdown passes with three interceptions in six games this season … WR Doug Beaumont leads a group of three players with at least 300 receiving yards … WR Josh Bellamy has five touchdown receptions to lead the Cardinals … Freshman SS Hakeem Smith has a team-high 74 tackles … LB Daniel Brown has four sacks and a team-leading 11 tackles for loss … DT Rodney Gnat is fourth in the BIG EAST with eight sacks … CB Johnny Patrick has a team-high three interceptions.

Rutgers needs wins in its final two games to secure bowl eligibility … The Scarlet Knights scored a season-high 38 points against Cincinnati last Saturday, but the Bearcats scored 69 points to produce the highest-scoring game in BIG EAST history … Rutgers is 3-3 at home … Freshman QB Chas Dodd turned in the best outing of his young career in the loss to Cincinnati, throwing for 335 yards and four touchdowns … WR Mark Harrison tied a BIG EAST single-game record with four touchdown receptions as part of his 10-catch, 240-yard effort … Rutgers was held to -9 rushing yards against Cincinnati and is 112th nationally in rushing at 99.9 yards per game … Rutgers' top two rushers are wide receivers who double as Wildcat quarterbacks … WR Mohamed Sanu has a team-high 309 rushing yards with four touchdowns to go with 398 receiving yards and two touchdown catches … LB Antonio Lowery has a team-high 86 tackles, good for third in the BIG EAST … Rutgers leads the BIG EAST in turnover margin (0.70 per game) … The Scarlet Knights have scored three special teams touchdowns and have blocked five kicks this season.


SYRACUSE at Boston College
Sat 11/27
12:00 PM
ESPN
Syracuse and Boston College renew a rivalry that began in 1924, resumed regularly in 1961 and continued through the formation of the BIG EAST Conference … The schools played every season from 1971 to 2004, when Boston College joined the Atlantic Coast Conference … Syracuse holds a 28-17 series lead … The Orange scored a 43-17 win in the last game of the 2004 regular season to forge a four-way tie for the BIG EAST title and deny the Eagles the outright championship and Bowl Championship Series bid.

Syracuse completed the BIG EAST portion of its schedule at 4-3 in conference play … The Orange are still mathematically alive in the BIG EAST title hunt, but would need four different results to fall their way … Syracuse is bowl-eligible for the first time since 2004 season and has clinched its first winning season since 2001 … Syracuse is one of seven teams nationally with five road wins and is the first team in BIG EAST history to win all of its league road games and lose all of its conference home games … The Orange rank sixth nationally in total defense (293.2 yards per game) and 13th in scoring defense (18.3 ppg) … RB Delone Carter is fourth in the BIG EAST in rushing at 91.3 yards per game … Carter has rushed for 1,005 yards and seven touchdowns on 198 carries … QB Ryan Nassib has thrown for 1,948 yards and 16 touchdowns with seven interceptions … WR Van Chew has 39 catches for 592 yards and five touchdowns … LB Derrell Smith is sixth in the BIG EAST in tackles (91) … DE Chandler Jones has a team-high four sacks … K Ross Krautman has been the BIG EAST's most reliable kicker with 17 field goals in 18 attempts.

Boston College became bowl-eligible for the 12th consecutive season after the Eagles defeated Virginia 17-13 last Saturday in Chestnut Hill, Mass. … Boston College finished the ACC portion of its schedule at 4-4 in the conference and will be either tied for third or fourth in the Atlantic Division following this week's games … The Eagles have won four straight, which followed a five-game losing streak … BC has won two straight road games with wins at Wake Forest and Duke … Boston College saw two players, RB Montel Harris and RB Andre Williams, rush for more than 100 yards against Virginia as Harris had 114 yards and Williams had 108 … Harris, who is BC's second-leading career rusher (3,600 yards), left the game against Virginia with a knee injury and will not play against Syracuse … Williams enters Saturday's game with just 34 carries on the season … QB Chase Rettig has taken over as the starting quarterback and has completed 75 of 142 passes for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns with six interceptions … LB Luke Kuechly has 161 tackles in 11 games, leading the nation with an average of 14.6 tackles per game.


USF at
Sat 11/27
12:00 PM
ESPNU
Saturday's game will be the third meeting between USF and Miami as the Bulls look for their first win against the Hurricanes … Miami was a 27-7 winner in the Orange Bowl in 2005 and a 31-10 winner in Tampa in 2009 … Saturday's game is the first between the teams at Sun Life Stadium.

USF saw a three-game winning streak snapped with a 17-10 loss to Pittsburgh last Saturday at Raymond James Stadium … The Bulls are 6-0 when they have scored more than 14 points and 0-4 when they have been held to 14 points or fewer … Conversely, the Bulls have held their Big East opponents to 20 points or fewer three times, but are 0-3 in those games … USF is 3-0 in Big East games when it has allowed more than 20 points … USF is 2-2 on the road this season … QB B.J. Daniels has thrown for 1,457 yards and nine touchdowns with 12 interceptions … Daniels has rushed for four touchdowns as well, tying RB Moise Plancher for the team lead … Plancher is the leading rusher with 583 yards on 123 carries … WR Dontavia Bogan has team highs with 36 receptions, 544 yards and four touchdown catches … LB Jacquain Williams leads the team with 54 tackles to go with 2.5 sacks … DE Craig Marshall has a team-high four sacks and seven tackles for loss, but has missed the last three games due to a foot injury … K Maikon Bonani has made 12-of-15 field goal attempts since taking over as the regular placekicker.

Miami completes its regular season with Saturday's game against USF … The Hurricanes snapped a two-game winning streak with a 31-17 loss to Virginia Tech Nov. 20 … The Hurricanes are 1-0 against Big East teams this season with a 31-3 win at Pittsburgh Sept. 23 … Miami completed ACC play at 5-3 and will finish second in the conference's Coastal Division … The Hurricanes have rushed for at least 200 yards in three consecutive games and five times in the last six contests … RB Damien Berry ranks fourth in the ACC in rushing at 81.0 yards per game … QB Jacory Harris has missed the last three games due to injury, but is listed on the depth chart as a possible starter Saturday … The Hurricanes rank second nationally in tackles for loss (8.64 per game) after registering 11 stops behind the line of scrimmage against Virginia Tech … LB Colin McCarthy has a team-high 95 tackles … Miami boasts an incredible streak in which a former Hurricane player has scored a touchdown in every week of the NFL season since Week 15 in 2002 — a span of 133 consecutive weeks … Santana Moss, the 2000 Big East Offensive and Special Teams Player of the Year, kept the streak alive last weekend when he scored for the Washington Redskins against the Tennessee Titans.


WEST VIRGINIA at Pitt
Fri 11/16
12:00 PM
ABC
The Backyard Brawl is the oldest and most-played active Big East rivalry … Pittsburgh and West Virginia first met in 1895 and have played 102 times prior to Friday's game … The schools have met every year since 1943 … Pittsburgh holds a 61-38-3 series lead … West Virginia took last year's Brawl 19-16 at Milan Puskar Stadium … The most memorable recent matchup was in 2007, when Pittsburgh scored a 13-9 win in Morgantown to keep West Virginia from a likely spot in the BCS National Championship Game.

West Virginia enters the Backyard Brawl as the winner of two straight and comes in one game behind Pittsburgh in the Big East standings … The Mountaineers would clinch at least a share of the Big East title with wins in their last two games … A loss to Pittsburgh would eliminate the Mountaineers from the Big East race … West Virginia remains the only team in the nation that has not allowed more than 21 points in a game this season … The Mountaineers rank fourth nationally in scoring defense (12.9 ppg) and total defense (245.1 ypg) while leading the Big East in both categories … West Virginia ranks fifth nationally in sacks (3.2 per game) … RB Noel Devine has rushed for 828 yards and six touchdowns … QB Geno Smith has thrown for 2,003 yards and 19 touchdowns with six interceptions … WR Jock Sanders is second in the Big East in receptions (5.4 per game), while WR Tavon Austin is fourth (4.5 per game) … CB Keith Tandy leads the Big East with six interceptions while DE Bruce Irvin has a conference-leading 10 sacks.

Pittsburgh enters its last two regular-season games in the proverbial driver's seat with regard to the Big East championship … The Panthers would win the outright Big East title for the first time if they win their remaining two games … Pittsburgh would claim at least a share of the Big East championship with a win against West Virginia … Pittsburgh's only Big East title to date was in 2004, when the Panthers were part of a four-way tie for first … The Panthers are 4-1 at home this season … QB Tino Sunseri has completed 66.7 percent of his passes (172 of 258) and has thrown for 2,034 yards and 14 touchdowns with just six interceptions … RB Ray Graham (89.3 yards per game, eight touchdowns) and RB Dion Lewis (73.4 ypg, eight touchdowns) make for one of the top backfield tandems in the nation … WR Jon Baldwin has 42 receptions for 677 yards and five touchdowns … In addition to the running back tandem, the Panthers boast a top-flight defensive end duo … DE Brandon Lindsey is tied for the conference lead in sacks (10) and is the outright leader in tackles for loss (14) … DE Jabaal Sheard is third in the Big East with nine sacks.

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