We have a good crop of important conference games this week in the Big East. The top teams all hit the road for tough road matches. Will all keep on trucking at the top, or will the second tier close things up moving forward? To the picks...
Last Week: 2-2
Bye Week: Pittsburgh, Connecticut
Rutgers at Louisville: This is an interesting matchup. Rutgers comes in 5-1, but will be the underdog against the reeling Cardinals. The Knights did win a close game against Navy last week. Rutgers may only have one loss, but haven't exactly blown the doors off of people with their offense. The Knights did compile over 400 yards against Navy, but still turned the ball over numerous times and needed a blocked field goal to pull it out. Freshman quarterback Gary Nova has played pretty well, but will have a major test this weekend against the Louisville defense. The Cardinals did lose last week, but the defense did hold one of the best offenses in the nation to just 25 points. Louisville may only have two wins, but it's a team that has been in every game. The offense showed a little more last week, and should keep pace with the Knights. This game may come down to who is more mistake-prone. Give the edge to the Cardinals. A combination of a home crowd, night game, and offensive improvements will give them the slight edge over Rutgers.
Prediction: 24-21 Louisville
Cincinnati at South Florida: How about those Bearcats? Following a miserable season, Cincy is now just one win away from bowl eligibility. Meanwhile, South Florida has completely fallen apart in Big East play. Now 0-2 in the conference, the Bulls can pretty much forget about playing in a BCS bowl already. However, USF is finally back home, where they play a much different brand of football. Look for B.J. Daniels and the Bulls to aggressively attack the Bearcat defense. The passing game will be used, with Daniels running draws out of that. Cincinnati's defense has been very good this year, but can be susceptible to a quarterback like Daniels. On the other side, the Bearcats will have to get off to a better start than the last few weeks. The Bulls are not a team that will let them off the hook. Look for a lot on the ground from the Bearcats with Zach Collaros and Isaiah Pead. The Bulls have been miserable against the run, and will have to stack the box to slow it down. Of course, this will open door for the Bearcat passing game. It seems that this game could be a fun one, with these mismatches. Expect a close game late into the second half, with Daniels willing his team to victory. South Florida should be a good enough team to not lose three straight games.
Prediction: 31-30 South Florida
Game of the Week: (15) West Virginia at Syracuse: The Mountaineers invade the dome on a random Friday night to seek revenge. Syracuse had an outstanding win last year in Morgantown, and look to pull off an even bigger upset. WVU is a much better team than last year. Geno Smith has the passing game on cruise control, and the running game is starting to come around as well. The defense is gaining more confidence, and even the special teams has awoken for a five year slumber. Meanwhile, the Syracuse offense has looked much better the last few weeks, and Ryan Nassib is progressing well. The defense will finally get Chandler Jones back to help the line, but the secondary will have to step up. Expect a fired up Orange team early, maybe even taking a slight lead. But, like in most games, too much Geno and company throughout will give WVU the edge by the final whistle. Full preview tomorrow
Prediction: 38-27 West Virginia