Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Big East Preview, Week 6



It's a battle of attrition now in the Big East. After four quarterbacks were injured last week, the conference may shake up a bit. Both unbeatens will be in action this week...expect one to fall. It's time for one team to come out of the pack, and prove they are the class of the conference. The picks...
Last Week: 5-1
Season: 26-7
Bye Week: Syracuse, Louisville

Cincy at Marshall: The Bearcats are having serious issues at the quarterback position. After injuries to Dustin Grutza and Tony Pike, Cincy is down to Zach Collaros (2 career passing yards) and Chazz Anderson, who has yet to play. They have will have to rely on a less-than stellar running game until Pike is healthy. Fortunately for the Bearcats, the defense has played well, and face a team susceptible to turnovers. After a 3-1 start, the the Thundering Herd got shelled by WVU, and freshman hurler Marc Cann looked dreadful. It's inexcusable for TE Cody Slate to only have nine receptions on the year. This is a huge home game for Marshall, who are looking for their first bowl season in awhile. Look for a lot of blitzing from the Herd front seven, but it still may not be enough. The 'Cats are too solid on defense, and should have just enough to control the clock.
Prediction: 21-20 Cincinnati
Rutgers at West Virginia: The good news for Rutgers; they won their first game last week, and no more suspensions. The bad news? They beat a terrible 1-AA team, and haven't won in Morgantown since Taft was in office. The Knights will have a tough task ahead of them, especially with WVU's defense in top form. They may catch a break if Mountaineer middle linebacker Reed Williams can't go. Mike Teel has been a disaster so far, throwing five more interceptions than touchdowns. They still can't find an identity on the ground, though Frosh Jourdan Brooks looks like the new Brian Leonard. The offensive line needs to toughen up for Rutgers to have a chance. WVU's Pat White does have a bit of a banged up thumb on his throwing hand, so the ground game may be in full-effect...which doesn't bode well for the Knight defense. The Mountaineers will try to get the ball more to Jock Sanders, who is a dual-threat at wideout and runningback. Expect to see backup QB Jarret Brown in the backfield as well, with White possibly lined up in the slot. WVU looked more like the team they should last week against Marshall...expect more of the same.
Prediction: 31-17 WVU
UConn at North Carolina: The battle of backup QB's as the Huskies look to remain undefeated. Donald Brown will be the feature on offense for UConn. The junior leads the nation in rushing, and no defense has even come close to shutting him down. Notre Dame transfer Zach Frazer, did a decent job coming in for the injured Tyler Lorenzen last week. Frazor threw for 80 yards and score against Louisville. The Husky defense has taken up the philosophy of bend don't break, which has worked, but is prone to being broken down. UNC comes in 3-1, but has questions. It's still uncertain who will start at QB for the Heels. That uncertainty means a lot of Brandon Tate. He might as well just start at QB. UNC's defense has been pretty solid, keeping the Heels in every game. This will be a battle of limitation. If the Heels can limit Brown they win. If UConn limits Tate, they win. If they are both limited...then it may be which young hurler plays well. UCOnn has skated through a few of these games, and it may be there time to take a fall.
Prediction: 20-17 North Carolina
Game of the Week. Pit at South Florida: The Panthers have bounced back well following the loss to Bowling Green. With nice offensive performances over Iowa and Syracuse, Pitt comes in with a lot of confidence. If they want to get back in the Big East title conversation, a win at South Florida would be a great start. LeSean McCoy has found his stride, but will face a tough defense in USF. The Panthers still need better QB and line play. The air game only has two touchdowns. Bill Stull will not find a lot of time to throw the ball either, against a strong front for the Bulls. There is no question that South Florida will stack the box. USF comes off a beatdown of NC State, and continue to be the class of the conference. Matt Grothe was near-perfect, and the defense forced three turnovers. The one issue for the Bulls is getting into the endzone. They have settled too many times for field goals. Third-down conversions need to improve as well. It's time for the Bulls to separate themselves from the rest of the Big East pack. Yes, UConn is undefeated as well, but are not as experienced as the Bulls. The Panthers will have to play a perfect game to beat USF...unlikely with how well the USF defense (8th in the country in total defense) is playing. South Florida has been prone to playing a bit complacent, so it will be interesting to see the game plan. Expect USF to win the turnover battle, the clock, and the game.
Prediction: 34-10 South Florida
Chris Sedenka is the host of the PM JAB, which can be heard weekdays between 3-7pm on 96.3FM and AM1440 sports radio WJAB in Central and Southern Maine...and misses the Expos.

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