Thursday, October 29, 2009
It’s a statement weekend for the conference. Four games, four opportunities for major statements. Does Louisville fall off the map? Does Cincinnati continue the push to the National Championship game? Can UConn win for Howard? Can WVU actually win a tough night game in Tampa? Here are the picks…
Last Week: 5-0
Bye Week: Pittsburgh
Arkansas State at Louisville: Here’s a game we have all been waiting for. It’s like the equivalent of the Raiders playing the Chiefs. Who doesn’t want to see that? A few years back the Louisville Cardinals used to be relevant. This would be a tune-up game...an opportunity to dust up for the rest of the season. However, times have changed, and there’s no guarantee of victory this week. Few have fallen from grace faster than the ‘Ville. Arkansas State comes in with just two wins, but did play Iowa down to the wire. The Red Wolves have a moderately balanced attack, which will give the young Louisville defense some trouble. This is an important game for the Big East. The conference hasn’t lost a game to an opponent from a small conference this season. With the game being at home, give the advantage to the Cards in a close contest.
Prediction: 23-20 Louisville
(8) Cincinnati at Syracuse: Does Syracuse have any road games? I swear this team never plays on the road. Not sure how much home field helps the Orange this weekend though, as the Cuse welcomes Cincy to town. Even an injured Tony Pike can’t slow the Bearcat attack. Zach Collaros has been solid in his place, and should have success again this weekend against an inconsistent defense. And if Pike should play, multiply the success by two. The Orange run game came back last week, helping the balance. And Mike Williams returns from suspension to dominate the skies. Syracuse is hanging in there this year, but just isn’t close to the upper tier level of the conference. The Bearcat’s defense will force mistakes and turnovers early, while the offense gets on the board and never looks back.
Prediction: 41-17 Cincinnati
Rutgers at UConn: The Huskies brought a major effort to the table last weekend. Now UConn is back home to pay tribute to Jasper Howard, and host Rutgers. This is more than just a game of football, it’s also a game for regional supremacy. This matchup has turned into a very good rivalry on and off the field. Bragging rights, bowl eligability, and recruiting advantages are all on the line in Storrs. Expect UConn to control the clock with the rush. It should open things up for Cody Endress, who continues to improve. Also watch for the Huskies to get Marcus Easley the football. He is emerging as the team’s playmaker. It’s hard to see Rutgers stay in this game offensively. The Knights are not explosive enough to break down UConn’s tough defense. Look for a key turnover or two in the second half to help the Huskies pull away. Also look for the crowd to be insanely raucous as they honor Howard.
Prediction: 27-17 UConn
Game of the Week: (21) West Virginia at South Florida: This is a battle between two teams that nobody can figure out. West Virginia’s identity evolves every week. No other team has found so many different ways to win OR lose. The team tends to be undisciplined and very careless with the football. Jarrett Brown can’t hold on to the football, and the defense is incredibly inconstant. Meanwhile, the Bulls have pulled a complete 180. The defense has fallen off the map, and the offense is stagnant. This team was heavily embarrassed last week at Pitt, and look to get fired back up in a rare Friday night home game. Look for Noel Devine to get many carries for the Mountaineers. He seems to be the only guy to trust. If Devine can get loose, it could be a long night for the USF defense, because the Mountaineers do have the ability to open it up with the playaction. Look for the Bulls to stack the box, and go after Brown. If he fumbles early, it can become a pattern. Meanwhile, USF’s offense needs to find something. B.J. Daniels has been ineffective, and the run game will be slowed by WVU. The Bulls have to try the deep pass to keep West Virginia honest. The secondary can be beat, and it also could open the rush. USF will need to win the turnover battle, and find a way to score, because West Virginia will have offensive success. Too much Devine will be the difference.
Prediction: 31-23 WVU
Posted by Chris at 12:46 PM