We are midway through the season, which means teams are running out of time for a crucial win or two. Some teams are still looking to get in gear, while Pitt will try to maintain the "class of the conference" moniker. Are we truly sold on the Panthers? A convincing win at Navy would help. Here are the picks.
Last Week: 3-0
Bye: West Virginia, Cincinnati
Middle Tennessee State at Louisville: The Cardinals are coming off a nice victory on the road at Memphis. The defense allowed some big plays, but also had a few crucial stands. Victor Anderson continues to be the offense, with over 500 yards on the ground. Hunter Cantwell needs to wake up, if the Cards are going to have a shot at a decent bowl game. State has had an interesting year, which includes wins over Maryland and Florida Atlantic. The Raiders however haven't been very consistent, and are turnover prone. The Cardinals have yet to put a solid string of games together, but still should be able to handle a mediocre opponent. These are the type of games that Steve Kragthorpe needs to own. It has been a shaky tenure so far, the more convincing wins the better to keep those donors off your back.
Prediction: 35-14 Louisville
Syracuse at South Florida: George Selvie says he will be back, which doesn't exactly bode well for the struggling Orange. The 'Cuse nearly stole one against an anemic WVU, but couldn't capitalize when it mattered. Curtis Brinkley ran the ball well, but will have a tougher time against a Selvie-led defense. South Florida will try to come out early and exploit the 'Cuse secondary. Matt Grothe could have the game of his life...if he wanted to. The Orange defense ranks 105th in the nation...garbage. The Bulls may also try to get Mike Ford rolling on the ground. Ford has yet to have a breakout game. It should be over early, as South Florida dominates every aspect of the game...well, maybe not kicking.
Prediction: 41-7 USF
Pitt at Navy: Dare we say trap game? Tag...you're it Wanny. It's your turn to try to slow down the dynamic Navy option. The Panthers have had a bye week to prepare for it, but that may not be enough. The Midshipmen have about eight billion plays they can run out of it to always keep a team off-balance. The Panthers defense needs to be disciplined and stay in their lanes. As good as the Navy offense has been, the defense has been equally as bad. Ranked 85th, the Middies will struggle trying to contain LeSean McCoy, and the Pittsburgh rushing attack. McCoy has been all class since the Iowa game. Pitt critics would still like to see more consistency from Bill Stull, which may be seen against a weak Navy secondary. The Middies have already beaten one ranked team this year, and won't be timid to face the Panthers. They just don't have the defense to hang.
Prediction: 31-21 Pitt
Game of the Week. UConn at Rutgers: This is an intriguing game, between two teams that disparately need a win for two different reasons. The Huskies need a win to get back on track, and Rutgers just needs a win over 1-AA team at some point. The Knights have fallen off the map. This is the Rutgers' teams of old...a wretched offense, with a shaky defense. Greg Schiano must be hoping that Joe Pa leaves soon, and he can get that Penn State job, before his stock falls. The Huskies ned to get something out of Zach Frasor, who was a disaster against UNC, throwing three picks. Donald Brown, who has already rushed for over 1,000 yards, may find some tough going against eight guys in the box. The Knights will attempt to force UConn to throw the ball. If they can, the Huskies may have some trouble. Rutgers' Mike Teel has taken a lot of heat this season, and may get the clipboard if he doesn't come out strong. Too much Brown, with Frasor doing just enough to get the victory for the Huskies.
Prediction: 29-21 UConn