Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Big East Preview, Week 3

It was not a week to remember for the conference. Following a perfect start, the Big East fell down a peg losing many statement games. But, this weekend is another chance for many of these teams to gain a bit of respect. Five match ups against BCS teams will highlight week 3.

Last Week: 5-3
Overall: 12-4

Bye Week: Rutgers

Florida A&M at (20) South Florida: The Bulls followed up a win over Notre Dame with a convincing beatdown of Miami (OH). The offense is clicking, the defense has been punishing, and the Bulls should be 3-0 heading into next week. The Rattlers are 1-1, with the only win coming over a Division 2 team. Look for South Florida to breeze through, and B.J. Daniels to continue the solid season.

Prediction: 42-6 South Florida

Akron at Cincinnati: The Bearcats come into this weekend licking some serious wounds. The offense could't find a rhythm, and the defense was an absolute sieve against Tennessee. Fortunately, the 'Cats will face possibly the worst team in the FBS. The Zips have scored a whopping three points so far this season, while giving up 41.5 on average. This is not good for Akron, considering Cincy is usually good for dismantling poor defensive units. Look for Zach Collaros and the boys to get back on track this weekend. This should be over by halftime.

Prediction: 52-10 Cincinnati

Iowa State at Connecticut: Interesting macthup for the Huskies, considering Iowa State beat Iowa, but nearly lost to Northern Iowa. The bipolar Cyclones haven't wowed anyone in years, and may be dealing with a hangover after winning the elusive CyHawk Trophy. The Huskies should probably be 2-0, but the offense is just making too many mistakes. Johnny McEntee made Vandy's defense look like the 1999 Ravens. UConn has a short week to forget about it since this game will be under the lights on Friday. Expect an ugly battle, with the Husky defense keeping the Cyclones at bay. Iowa State doesn't have a stellar offense, and the disciplined Huskies could force a mistake or two. If the case, McEntee and company will have to take advantage. Look for UConn to take control of this one with the run, and win a close battle with time of possession and sound defense.

Prediction: 21-17 Connecticut

Louisville at Kentucky: Sure, the Cardinals are 1-1, but it already seems like a must-win. Louisville's offense has sputtered, and will look to turn it around against rival, Kentucky. The Wildcats may be 2-0, but the offense didn't perform well against lesser opponents. The defensive numbers are solid, but again, lesser opponents. Something is going to have to give. And, considering it's a rivalry game, a lot will probably give. Louisville's offensive line may be the biggest story. If Will Stein can get a few seconds to actually let things develop, then look for the Cardinals' receivers to have some openings. It may not matter though. Kentucky is just so stagnant of offense that Louisville will be in this one either way. Being in Lexington helps the Wildcats, but look for Louisville to force a crucial turnover late to help win a tight one.

Prediction: 20-14 Louisville

Pittsburgh at Iowa: The Panthers are in all sorts of trouble. Tino Sunseri has completely lost his confidence, and was actually benched against Maine. And the defense couldn't stop the FCS opponent. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, Iowa isn't exactly in great shape either. The Hawkeyes fell to rival Iowa State last weekend in epic fashion. Iowa can't defend the run, which is good news for Ray Graham. Pitt will need to use the run as much as possible, considering Sunseri is a walking time bomb at this point. If the Hawkeyes can slow Graham down, then it could be a long day for Pitt. The Hawkeyes will stack the box, and let Sunseri do the potential damage. At the end of the day, the panthers just won't have enough offense to keep up.

Prediction: 31-27 Iowa

(18) West Virginia at Maryland: The Mountaineers are winning, but not in a dominant fashion. The first road trip of the season takes WVU to rival, Maryland that had two weeks to prepare for the game. Expect a hard fought game, with two disciplined teams. WVU's defense decimated the Maryland offensive line last season, and will need to again this year. Look for Jeff Casteel's bunch to get after it early. Randy Edsell should know this defense well, considering he coached UConn before making the switch to College Park. However, the offense isn't something he has probably seen. Look for Geno Smith to have a big day. The rushing attack still may be an issue, but Smith and the Mountaineers should be able to score enough for the defense to keep control.

Prediction: 31-27 West Virginia

Game of the Week: Syracuse at Southern Cal: Neither team has been impressive this season, but one of them is going to be 3-0 by the end of the weekend. The Orange face the difficult task of not only traveling cross country to play the game, but also dealing with some significant injuries of the defensive side of the ball. The line isn't full strength, which means Matt Barkley will have time to find Robert Woods and co. The Orange may be able to limit the Trojans on the ground. USC has struggled to rush the football this season, which will probably allow Syracuse to keep this close. However, look for USC to do the exact same thing. The Orange are just too one-dimensional. Ryan Nassib will have to keep the game close. His receivers are pretty solid, and the USC defense isn't exactly air tight yet. It won't be enough though. Too much Barkley late will give USC to the closer-than expected outcome.

Prediction: 28-21 USC

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