Everyone is in action this week, with plenty on the line. Can Cincinnati stay ahead of the class, or will Pitt and WVU get back in the mix? Can Syracuse take down their former coach? And, will it be Rutgers or USF waking back up? It should be a fun weekend. To the picks...
Last Week: 2-1
Bye Week: None
South Florida at Rutgers: The Bulls need to turn things around asap. They face a team that is also on a losing streak, and prone to the mistake. There's really no excuse that USF hasn't won a game since September. Each loss has had its own theme to it. However, they just need to execute, which they should be able to do with their experience. As for Rutgers, they just need to hold on to the damn ball. The Knights are turning the ball over at an alarming rate, and face an opportunistic defense yet again. Gary Nova may be in for another long day if he can't find Mohamed Sanu. But this team needs more playmakers. One receiver isn't enough. Look for the Bulls to double Sanu, and go after Nova. On the other side, B.J. Daniels needs to take this team by the scruff and just ball. If he does, they should put up enough points to pull down the victory.
Prediction: 31-20 South Florida
Syracuse at Connecticut: This game should be the battle for the Pasqualoni Cup! Though, I'm not sure anyone really wants a trophy with Paul's likeness on it. Both teams have had very interesting years. Syracuse can't maintain momentum, and UConn can't maintain anything. This game has all the makings of a classic! Ryan Nassib and the passing attack will blister the Husky secondary. Why? Because everyone does. Watching UConn's secondary is like watching a MAC team play the pass. That should open things up for Antwon Bailey, and a whole load of scoring for the Orange. As for the Husky offense, Johnny McEntee is still the starter...which means UConn will continue to struggle. Look for the Orange front line to make a long day for McEntee. Syracuse should pull away in the second half, with Nassib leading the way.
Prediction: 29-13 Syracuse
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh: The Bearcats are the lone team without a loss in the conference, and have a very favorable schedule left. It starts with taking on a beat-up Pittsburgh team that lost Ray Graham for the season last week. The Panthers now will rely on Zach Brown. The senior is averaging 3.1 yards a carry, so he will need to step it up. Tino Sunseri did step it up last week, and will need to continue to play at a high rate if they want a shot at taking down the Bearcats. Cincy's defense has been stingy this year, but did finally show some weaknesses last week against USF. Look for Sunseri to go to the air again to try and exploit the Bearcat secondary. Meanwhile, Cincy continues to cruise on offense. Pitt's defense is going to be in for a battle. They will need to slow down the ground attack to have any chance. Look for Zach Collaros and company to spread things out early and attack the corners with speed. The Bearcats should have enough success against the inconsistent Panther defense. However, Collaros needs to protect the ball much better if he wants to ensure victory this weekend. If Sunseri can pay well again Pitt will keep it close. But the Bearcats are just too powerful, and the Panthers too beat-up.
Prediction: 34-24 Cincinnati
Game of the Week: Louisville at (24) West Virginia: What a great battle this should be. The league's best defense against the league's best offense. However, the big story may be how the young Louisville offense does against the inconsistent Mountaineer defense. Expect a tight game early on, but WVU should be able to figure out the stingy Louisville defense enough to give them a comfortable lead by the second half. Teddy Bridgewater can't afford to make mistakes, and that's a lot to ask a freshman quarterback on the road. Full preview tomorrow.
Prediction: 30-19 West Virginia