Big East Football Preview


Posted Nov 12, 2009


West Virginia can either play its way into league contention or find itself all but eliminated as it travels to Cincinnati, while Pitt hopes to gain notice with a win against the most overrated program in college football.

Five Big East Teams On Prime Time Television In Week 11

Fans should have little trouble finding their favorite Big East teams this weekend as the conference has three prime time games lined up for Week 11 of the college football season. USF and Rutgers get things started Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. West Virginia heads to Cincinnati for a Friday night game on ESPN2 between two Big East championship contenders (8 p.m.). Pittsburgh plays a key nonconference game on ABC Saturday night when the Panthers host Notre Dame at 8 p.m.


Big East Puts Four In Top 25

This week’s national polls have the Big East well represented, with half of the conference’s teams in the top 25 of both the USA Today coaches’ poll and the Bowl Championship Series rankings. Cincinnati is No. 5 in the BCS standings and in all three national polls (Associated Press, USA Today, Harris Interactive), while Pittsburgh is No. 12 in the BCS, No. 8 in the AP poll and No. 9 in the USA Today and Harris polls. USF and West Virginia check in at Nos. 24 and 25 in the BCS, respectively. The Big East is the only league in the nation to have half of its teams in the national rankings.


‘Next Man In’ Keeps Cincinnati In Top 5

One could make a long list of college football teams whose championship hopes have been diminished following injuries to their starting quarterbacks. So it wouldn’t have been hard to blame Cincinnati fans for feeling apprehensive when Heisman Trophy candidate Tony Pike went down with a wrist injury against USF four weeks ago. But Bearcat supporters only had to look to last year – when Pike himself replaced the injured starter – for encouragement. Any doubts this season were quickly put to rest by the play of backup Zach Collaros. Collaros has gone 3-0 as Cincinnati’s starter and set a Big East record with 555 yards of total offense in last week’s win against Connecticut. Collaros has thrown 10 touchdowns and just one interception while completing 76 percent of his passes this year.


Big East Has Two Maxwell Award Semifinalists

Big East Has Two Maxwell Award Semifinalists A pair of Big East running backs – West Virginia’s Noel Devine and Pittsburgh’s Dion Lewis – are among the 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award as the nation’s outstanding player. Devine, a junior, has rushed for 1,010 yards and 10 touchdowns and has registered his second straight 1,000-yard season. Lewis – the only freshman among the semifinalists – leads the Big East with 1,139 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns and ranks seventh nationally in rushing yards.



CINCINNATI vs. West Virginia
Fri 11/13
8:00 PM
ESPN
Friday's game is the 18th between West Virginia and Cincinnati with the Mountaineers holding a 14-2-1 series lead … The series dates to a 50-0 West Virginia win in 1921 … Cincinnati's two wins, both in Morgantown, have been by a combined five points — a 15-13 win in 2003 and a 26-23 win in overtime last season … Last year's game saw TE Kazeem Alli catch a 2-yard TD pass from QB Tony Pike in OT to answer the Mountaineers' field goal.

West Virginia rebounded from its second loss of the season with a 17-9 win against Louisville last Saturday … The Mountaineers are 1-2 on the road this season, with a win at Syracuse and losses at Auburn and USF … After scoring at least 30 points in each of its first five games, West Virginia has scored between 17 and 28 in each of its last four games … RB Noel Devine enters Friday's game with 1,010 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, marking his second straight 1,000-yard season … The sophomore was limited to 13 carries against Louisville after rolling his ankle in the second quarter … QB Jarrett Brown has thrown for 1,661 yards and 10 TDs with eight interceptions … WR Jock Sanders is third in the Big East in receptions (6.4 per game) … DE Julian Miller is second in the Big East with 8.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss this season … P Scott Kozlowski is the Big East's leading punter at 45.5 yards per punt.

Cincinnati enters Saturday's game as one of six unbeaten teams in the nation … The Bearcats are No. 5 in the Associated Press poll, the USA Today poll and the Bowl Championship Series standings … Cincinnati has committed just four turnovers in nine games and remains the only team in the nation that has not lost a fumble … The Bearcats lead the nation in pass efficiency (171.84) and tackles for loss (8.9 per game) … QB Zach Collaros has started the last three games in place of injured Heisman Trophy candidate Tony Pike … Collaros has completed 76 of 100 passes (76 percent) for 1,229 yards and 10 touchdowns and one interception … Pike dressed for last Saturday's game against Connecticut and was available for emergency duty … WR Mardy Gilyard leads the Big East with 7.2 receptions per game … Gilyard has 65 receptions for 908 yards and eight touchdowns and also leads the Big East in all-purpose yards (184.3 yards per game) … K Jake Rogers is the top-scoring kicker in the Big East at 8.4 points per game.


CONNECTICUT Open Date
Next Game
Sat 11/21
at Notre Dame
 

LOUISVILLE vs. Syracuse
Sat 11/14
12:00 PM
Big East Network
Saturday’s game will be the ninth meeting between Syracuse and Louisville … The Orange hold a 5-3 series lead and have won the last two against the Cardinals … Syracuse is 2-1 against the Cardinals in Louisville … Last year’s meeting saw Syracuse QB Cameron Dantley throw two touchdown passes in the Orange’s 28-21 win at the Carrier Dome … The last game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium saw the teams combined for 1,093 yards of offense in Syracuse’s 38-35 win.

Syracuse looks to snap a two-game slide that has seen the Orange drop four of their last five … Syracuse is 0-2 on the road this season and plays backto- back road games for the first time with the trip to Louisville … Syracuse leads the Big East and ranks 23rd nationally in rushing defense (106.4 yards per game) … The Orange lost two key players to season-ending injuries against Pittsburgh in TE Cody Catalina and SS Max Suter … RB Delone Carter has rushed for 723 yards and eight touchdowns and is fifth in the Big East in rushing at 80.3 yards per game … The Orange have gone with two quarterbacks with Greg Paulus taking most of the snaps … Paulus has completed 65.2 percent of his passes and has thrown for 1,497 yards and 10 touchdowns with 13 interceptions … Ryan Nassib has thrown for 268 yards and two TDs and one INT … LB Derrell Smith is fourth in the Big East in tackles (8.7 per game) and leads Syracuse in sacks (6.5), tackles for loss (9.5) and forced fumbles (four).

Louisville returns to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium following three straight road games … The Cardinals are 3-1 at home and 0-5 on the road this season … Louisville is looking to snap a four-game losing streak … Head coach Steve Kragthorpe expects to have RB Victor Anderson back in the lineup Saturday … Anderson, who has missed two games with various injuries, is seventh in the Big East in rushing at 68.6 yards per game … QB Will Stein has started the last two games, though Kragthorpe has not ruled out QB Adam Froman for Saturday as well … Froman has thrown for team highs of 751 yards and three touchdowns … WR Trent Guy is averaging 104 all-purpose yards per game, good for eighth in the Big East … LB Jon Dempsey is second in the Big East in tackles (9.7 per game) … LB Chris Campa is eighth in tackles at 7.1 per game … S Chaz Thompson has a team-high three interceptions.


PITTSBURGH vs. Notre Dame
Sat 11/14
8:00 PM
ABC
Pittsburgh and Notre Dame trace their football rivalry to Oct. 25, 1909, a 6-0 Fighting Irish win … Since then, the schools have met 64 times, with Notre Dame holding a 44-19-1 series lead … Last year’s meeting was the first overtime game in series history as Pittsburgh took a 36-33 win in four OTs in South Bend, Ind. … Pitt RB LeSean McCoy ran for 169 yards and a touchdown and Panthers K Conor Lee kicked five field goals — including four in the overtime periods … Pittsburgh has won two of the last three against the Fighting Irish.

Pittsburgh is enjoying its best season since 1982, when Dan Marino was the Panthers’ quarterback … Pitt is ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press poll, No. 9 in the USA Today poll and No. 12 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings … Pittsburgh’s final three opponents — Notre Dame, West Virginia and Cincinnati — are a combined 20-5 against FBS competition, giving the Panthers the nation’s fourth-toughest remaining schedule … Pitt is 18-5 since the last game of the 2007 season … Pittsburgh leads the nation in sacks (4.2 per game) and is 12th nationally in sacks allowed (1.0 per game) … The Panthers lead the Big East in rushing defense … RB Dion Lewis is the only freshman among the 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award as the nation’s top player … Lewis has rushed for 1,139 yards and 12 touchdowns … QB Bill Stull leads the Big East in passing (208.8 yards per game) … Stull has thrown for 1,879 yards and 17 touchdowns with just four interceptions … DE Greg Romeus has 7.5 sacks and is fourth in the Big East at 0.9 per game.

Notre Dame stands at 6-3 after a 23-21 loss to Navy last Saturday … The Fighting Irish are 1-1 in road games this season with a win at Purdue and a loss at Michigan … Notre Dame ranks sixth nationally in total offense (463.7 yards per game) and fifth in passing offense (325.6 ypg) … QB Jimmy Clausen ranks third in the nation in pass efficiency (162.88) … Clausen has thrown for 2,770 yards and 20 touchdowns against just three interceptions … WR Golden Tate has been the primary target with 65 receptions for 1,059 yards and 10 touchdowns … WR Michael Floyd has six touchdown receptions, despite missing five games due to injury … RB Armando Allen is the leading rusher with 514 yards and three touchdowns on 104 carries … FS Kyle Mc- Carthy leads the Fighting Irish with 72 tackles, five interceptions and nine passes defended … LB Darius Fleming has team highs of three sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss.


RUTGERS vs. USF
Thu 11/12
7:30 PM
ESPN
Thursday’s game will be the fifth meeting between USF and Rutgers … The Scarlet Knights have won three straight in the series and hold a 3-1 lead in the rivalry … Last year’s meeting saw Rutgers QB Mike Teel throw for 294 yards and three touchdowns as the Scarlet Knights took a 49-16 win in Tampa, Fla. … The teams have split the two previous meetings at Rutgers Stadium.

USF returns from a bye week that followed the Bulls’ 30-19 win against West Virginia Oct. 30 … USF’s only two losses have been to then-No. 8 Cincinnati and then No. 20 Pittsburgh … The Bulls are 2-2 against nationally ranked opponents this season … USF is the only team in the nation that has started each of the last three seasons with a 5-0 record … The Bulls are 3-1 on the road … QB B.J. Daniels leads the Bulls in both passing and rushing since taking over as the starter for the injured Matt Grothe … Daniels has thrown for 1,096 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions and has rushed for 519 yards and four TDs … WR Carlton Mitchell is the leading receiver with 542 yards and four touchdowns on 29 receptions … The defense is centered around two outstanding defensive ends in George Selvie (three sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss) and Jason Pierre-Paul (two sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss) … LB Kion Wilson has a team-high 61 tackles, while S Nate Allen leads the Bulls with three interceptions … K Eric Schwartz has taken over as the regular placekicker and has made 6 of 9 field goal attempts.

Rutgers has won two straight games and six of its last seven after a 28-24 win at Connecticut Oct. 31 … The Scarlet Knights enjoyed a bye in Week 10 … Rutgers has won 13 of its last 15 games dating to last season … The Scarlet Knights are 3-2 at home this season … Rutgers held the lead against Connecticut for all but 28 seconds of the Oct. 31 game … QB Tom Savage has thrown for 1,341 yards and eight touchdowns as a true freshman … Savage has completed 56 percent of his passes (94 of 168) and has thrown just one interception … RB Joe Martinek has rushed for 601 yards and seven touchdowns … WR Tim Brown has 37 catches for 811 yards (21.9 yards per catch) and five touchdowns … He ranks 19th in the nation at 101.4 receiving yards per game … CB Devin McCourty has a team-high 47 tackles … DE Jonathan Freeny has 7.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss … Rutgers has forced at least one turnover in 14 consecutive games and has two takeaways in each of the last seven games … After committing four turnovers in the first two games of the season, Rutgers has just three giveaways in the last six games.


SYRACUSE at Louisville
Sat 11/14
12:00 PM
Big East Network
Saturday's game will be the ninth meeting between Syracuse and Louisville … The Orange hold a 5-3 series lead and have won the last two against the Cardinals … Syracuse is 2-1 against the Cardinals in Louisville … Last year's meeting saw Syracuse QB Cameron Dantley throw two touchdown passes in the Orange's 28-21 win at the Carrier Dome … The last game at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium saw the teams combined for 1,093 yards of offense in Syracuse's 38-35 win.

Syracuse looks to snap a two-game slide that has seen the Orange drop four of their last five … Syracuse is 0-2 on the road this season and plays backto- back road games for the first time with the trip to Louisville … Syracuse leads the Big East and ranks 23rd nationally in rushing defense (106.4 yards per game) … The Orange lost two key players to season-ending injuries against Pittsburgh in TE Cody Catalina and SS Max Suter … RB Delone Carter has rushed for 723 yards and eight touchdowns and is fifth in the Big East in rushing at 80.3 yards per game … The Orange have gone with two quarterbacks with Greg Paulus taking most of the snaps … Paulus has completed 65.2 percent of his passes and has thrown for 1,497 yards and 10 touchdowns with 13 interceptions … Ryan Nassib has thrown for 268 yards and two TDs and one INT … LB Derrell Smith is fourth in the Big East in tackles (8.7 per game) and leads Syracuse in sacks (6.5), tackles for loss (9.5) and forced fumbles (four).

Louisville returns to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium following three straight road games … The Cardinals are 3-1 at home and 0-5 on the road this season … Louisville is looking to snap a four-game losing streak … Head coach Steve Kragthorpe expects to have RB Victor Anderson back in the lineup Saturday … Anderson, who has missed two games with various injuries, is seventh in the Big East in rushing at 68.6 yards per game … QB Will Stein has started the last two games, though Kragthorpe has not ruled out QB Adam Froman for Saturday as well … Froman has thrown for team highs of 751 yards and three touchdowns … WR Trent Guy is averaging 104 all-purpose yards per game, good for eighth in the Big East … LB Jon Dempsey is second in the Big East in tackles (9.7 per game) … LB Chris Campa is eighth in tackles at 7.1 per game … S Chaz Thompson has a team-high three interceptions.


USF at Rutgers
Thu 11/12
7:30 PM
ESPN
Thursday's game will be the fifth meeting between USF and Rutgers … The Scarlet Knights have won three straight in the series and hold a 3-1 lead in the rivalry … Last year's meeting saw Rutgers QB Mike Teel throw for 294 yards and three touchdowns as the Scarlet Knights took a 49-16 win in Tampa, Fla. … The teams have split the two previous meetings at Rutgers Stadium.

USF returns from a bye week that followed the Bulls' 30-19 win against West Virginia Oct. 30 … USF's only two losses have been to then-No. 8 Cincinnati and then No. 20 Pittsburgh … The Bulls are 2-2 against nationally ranked opponents this season … USF is the only team in the nation that has started each of the last three seasons with a 5-0 record … The Bulls are 3-1 on the road … QB B.J. Daniels leads the Bulls in both passing and rushing since taking over as the starter for the injured Matt Grothe … Daniels has thrown for 1,096 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions and has rushed for 519 yards and four TDs … WR Carlton Mitchell is the leading receiver with 542 yards and four touchdowns on 29 receptions … The defense is centered around two outstanding defensive ends in George Selvie (three sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss) and Jason Pierre-Paul (two sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss) … LB Kion Wilson has a team-high 61 tackles, while S Nate Allen leads the Bulls with three interceptions … K Eric Schwartz has taken over as the regular placekicker and has made 6 of 9 field goal attempts.

Rutgers has won two straight games and six of its last seven after a 28-24 win at Connecticut Oct. 31 … The Scarlet Knights enjoyed a bye in Week 10 … Rutgers has won 13 of its last 15 games dating to last season … The Scarlet Knights are 3-2 at home this season … Rutgers held the lead against Connecticut for all but 28 seconds of the Oct. 31 game … QB Tom Savage has thrown for 1,341 yards and eight touchdowns as a true freshman … Savage has completed 56 percent of his passes (94 of 168) and has thrown just one interception … RB Joe Martinek has rushed for 601 yards and seven touchdowns … WR Tim Brown has 37 catches for 811 yards (21.9 yards per catch) and five touchdowns … He ranks 19th in the nation at 101.4 receiving yards per game … CB Devin McCourty has a team-high 47 tackles … DE Jonathan Freeny has 7.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss … Rutgers has forced at least one turnover in 14 consecutive games and has two takeaways in each of the last seven games … After committing four turnovers in the first two games of the season, Rutgers has just three giveaways in the last six games.


WEST VIRGINIA at Cincinnati
Fri 11/13
8:00 PM
ESPN2
Friday’s game is the 18th between West Virginia and Cincinnati with the Mountaineers holding a 14-2-1 series lead … The series dates to a 50-0 West Virginia win in 1921 … Cincinnati’s two wins, both in Morgantown, have been by a combined five points — a 15-13 win in 2003 and a 26-23 win in overtime last season … Last year’s game saw TE Kazeem Alli catch a 2-yard TD pass from QB Tony Pike in OT to answer the Mountaineers’ field goal.

West Virginia rebounded from its second loss of the season with a 17-9 win against Louisville last Saturday … The Mountaineers are 1-2 on the road this season, with a win at Syracuse and losses at Auburn and USF … After scoring at least 30 points in each of its first five games, West Virginia has scored between 17 and 28 in each of its last four games … RB Noel Devine enters Friday’s game with 1,010 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, marking his second straight 1,000-yard season … The sophomore was limited to 13 carries against Louisville after rolling his ankle in the second quarter … QB Jarrett Brown has thrown for 1,661 yards and 10 TDs with eight interceptions … WR Jock Sanders is third in the Big East in receptions (6.4 per game) … DE Julian Miller is second in the Big East with 8.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss this season … P Scott Kozlowski is the Big East’s leading punter at 45.5 yards per punt.

Cincinnati enters Saturday’s game as one of six unbeaten teams in the nation … The Bearcats are No. 5 in the Associated Press poll, the USA Today poll and the Bowl Championship Series standings … Cincinnati has committed just four turnovers in nine games and remains the only team in the nation that has not lost a fumble … The Bearcats lead the nation in pass efficiency (171.84) and tackles for loss (8.9 per game) … QB Zach Collaros has started the last three games in place of injured Heisman Trophy candidate Tony Pike … Collaros has completed 76 of 100 passes (76 percent) for 1,229 yards and 10 touchdowns and one interception … Pike dressed for last Saturday’s game against Connecticut and was available for emergency duty … WR Mardy Gilyard leads the Big East with 7.2 receptions per game … Gilyard has 65 receptions for 908 yards and eight touchdowns and also leads the Big East in all-purpose yards (184.3 yards per game) … K Jake Rogers is the top-scoring kicker in the Big East at 8.4 points per game.



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