Thursday, September 8, 2011

Big East Preview, Week 2

It was a perfect start to the season for the Big East, with the conference going 8-0. The highlight was USF's big win at Notre Dame, and now the Bulls look to build on what could be a special year. Another solid slate of games this week, as the league looks to remain perfect.

Last Week: 7-1
Overall: 7-1

Bye Week: None

Maine at Pittsburgh: The Panthers were pretty solid in game one against Buffalo. Ray Graham was the story, rushing for over 200 yards in that first game, and shouldn't be slowing down any time soon. Pitt would love to show off the new passing attack a little bit more but if the rushing game can't be stopped, why bother? Defensively, the Panthers had little trouble slowing down Buffalo, and should be right back at it this week against Maine. The Black Bears will battle hard, because that's what Mainers do! But, it won't be enough. Panthers roll.

Prediction: 34-7 Pittsburgh

Rhode Island at Syracuse: The Orange got more than they bargained for last Thursday, narrowly escaping Wake Forest. Hopefully for Syracuse this is the wake up call they needed. Defensively, Syracuse is better than they played the other day. However, they are dealing with a few day-to-day injuries to some of the starters. It shouldn't be too much of a problem this week as they take on Rhode Island. Look for Ryan Nassib to find some rhythm, and Antwon Bailey to light up the turf in this comfortable win for the Orange.

Prediction: 42-10 Syracuse

Norfolk State at (19) West Virginia: This will be a win for WVU if the team can actually play four quarters. Geno Smith was solid, but the rest of the offense could use some work. The offensive line was terrible, the running game was non-existent, and the receivers dropped a few passes. However, WVU scored 34 points in a little over three quarts, so just imagine what it will look like when it gets righted. Defensively, the Mountaineers picked up where they left off last season. The only issue in the first game was the pass rush. Expect that to change this weekend. Dana Holgorsen would love to send another statement early on that WVU is the team to beat in the Big East.

Prediction: 51-13 West Virginia

Ball State at (22) South Florida: The Bulls are the toast of the league following the big upset win at Notre Dame. Sure, USF had plenty of help from Notre Dame's mistakes, but a solid win is a solid win. B.J. Daniels is possibly the most underrated player in the league. He had a pretty good game against the Irish, and showed good maturity. His confidence wavered last season, so it was important to get off to the good start. The defense played well, and should have another solid game against Ball State. The Cardinals are coming off a nice win over Indiana. Ball State quarterback, Kyle Wenning was very strong in the win. He threw for over 79%, with two touchdowns. The Bulls need to slow down the rushing attack as well, something they struggled with last week. This is a classic letdown game situation, so USF has to be careful. A close game early on will give the Bulls a scare, but look for Daniels to take control of the second half.

Prediction: 27-17 South Florida

Florida International at Louisville: The Cardinals didn't exactly have the best debut. It was a struggle offensively. Louisville was able to move down the field, but need to do better in finishing. They face a Florida International team coming off a huge win over North Texas...though it was only North Texas. Wesley Carroll is a decent quarterback for FIU, but is susceptible to throwing the pick. Look for the Cards to bring the pressure as much as possible. The crowd should be a factor too. It's a Friday night ESPN game, and Papa Johns Stadium is a tough place to play. This is the type of game Louisville needs to win if they want to continue to grow. Look for a solid dose of Victor Anderson early on, with a steady helping of Will Stein after the passing lanes are open. A few FIU turnovers will lock things up for the Cards int he second half.

Prediction: 29-13 Louisville

Connecticut at Vanderbilt: A nice start for the Huskies last week, absolutely hammering their FCS opponent. UConn now faces a team that was actually out-gained by Elon. Sure, the Commodores won big, but didn't exactly show anything on offense. This will be a good matchup for the Husky defense, which is one of the more experienced groups in the conference. If Vandy struggled to move the ball on Elon, it certainly won't be easy against stingy, UConn. Johnny "Trickshot" McEntee started at quarterback for the Huskies, and performed well. Though all three gunslingers saw action. The show was stolen by freshman running back, Lyle McCombs, who finished with 141 yards and four touchdowns. Look for McCombs and DJ Shoemate to try to break down the Vandy defense. The Husky defense will probably shutdown Vandy's ground attack, so expect an ugly, grind it out game. This is a solid UConn win with an experienced quarterback. However, there is no experienced quarterback. Huskies still win, but it's a close one.

Prediction: 24-21 Connecticut

Rutgers at North Carolina: You really never know which UNC team will show up. The Thralls been one of the more unpredictable teams to follow over the past few seasons. Always seemingly on the cusp of the next level, a bad loss or scandal knocks them right back down. This is truly a respect game for both of these teams. Rutgers is looking to prove to the media that they are a bowl contender, and UNC looks to move on from Butch Davis. It should be a good matchup. Both teams are defensive-minded, but also have offensive playmakers. The big question for Rutgers will again be at the quarterback position. Chas Dodd will have to play mistake-free for Rutgers to have a chance. The run game will be tough to establish, so Dodd will have to find his experienced receivers to stay in this game. The Knights' defense will have some serious pressure on them as well, to try to keep this game close. Look for Rutgers to be in this game throughout, but too many mistakes will be the difference.

Prediction: 23-19 North Carolina

Game of the Week: Cincinnati at Tennessee: Take the over, folks. It's going to be one hell of a fun game to watch, as two potent offenses clash in Knoxville. Coming off a four touchdown game, Zach Collaros will look to keep the momentum going with a solid outing. Isaiah Pead will also look to have a big day, following a good debut last week. The Bearcats will score points, no doubt about it. However, how many will Cincy give up? The defense is truly the weakness for this team, and the Volunteers will keep the offensive pressure consistent. Tyler Bray was great against Montana, and the rushing attack is already on point. Both of these teams have the ability to come back so expect a back-and-forth battle. The experience on offense for the Bearcats may be the true difference, especially in a tight, late game. Look for Cincinnati to pull this one out, in a hostile environment by limiting mistakes.

Prediction: 38-35 Cincinnati

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