Last Week: 3-0
Bye Week: Connecticut
(24) South Florida at Rutgers: This is a crucial Big East matchup. USF is out to finish a season strong. The Bulls can win out if they play up to potential. Meanwhile, the Knights are still looking for a marquee win this season. This could be Rutgers’ best shot. It has the makings of a close game. The Bulls may be back on track after dismantling West Virginia. B.J. Daniels continues to mature, and seems to have regained his confidence. If the Bulls play a disciplined game expect a win. It’s just hard to guarantee a disciplined performance considering it has barely happened this season. Look for a close game early, with Rutgers’ defense being the difference. However, that defense can’t play at a high level for very long. South Florida will take control in the second half, and rely on the defense to bring it home.
Prediction: 24-19 South Florida
(25) West Virginia at (5) Cincinnati: The Bearcats got a major scare last week, and now host a West Virginia team that can be dangerous. Is Cincinnati starting to feel the pressure? Or was the UConn game just a near speed bump? The Bearcats are a better all-around team on paper than WVU, and should win this game handily. Zach Collaros once again will get the start for Cincy. The backup has been remarkably effective. Tony Pike is also back, and should get some snaps. The receivers, led by Mardy Gilyard should have a huge game. The Mountaineer secondary continues to get worse as the year progresses. WVU needs to establish a ground game. Noel Devine has been slowed the last few weeks, and Jarrett Brown continues to make mistakes. If WVU can’t control the ball this game is a blowout. I just don’t see the Mountaineers controlling anything.
Prediction: 34-17 Cincinnati
Syracuse at Louisville: It’s the battle of the beaten’s this week in Louisville. The Cardinals and the Orange are both looking for that first conference win of the season. The Orange continue to be depleted by injury, especially defensively. Syracuse also struggled in stopping the run last week for the first time this season. That’s not a good sign moving forward, considering the Orange secondary is downright tragic. However, Louisville can’t throw the football, so the ‘Cuse can afford to stack the box. The Cards defense really stepped up last week, and should cut Delone Carter and the Orange run game down. Greg Paulus and Ryan Nassib are going to have to win this game. It’s hard to see that happening. An early turnover or two will be the downfall for the Orange.
Prediction: 20-12 Louisville
Game of the Week: Notre Dame at (12) Pittsburgh: No time for a letdown now for Pittsburgh. The Panthers have an opportunity to not only win the conference, but finish as a top five pick. A loss to Notre Dame would take a lot of luster off this season. The Irish are limping, following a loss to Navy. Defensively, Notre Dame is a train wreck, and could be in for a long day. However, the Irish attack is still very dangerous. Jimmy Clausen continues to have an outstanding year, with 20 touchdowns, and just three picks. Not to be outdone is Bill Stull, who is right behind Clausen in efficiency. Both QB’s should have more success this week. Also expect both running games to get going early. This game will be a true shootout. Pitt wants to keep the Notre Dame offense off the field as much as possible. The Panthers should be able to do this with Dion Lewis. Lewis should have a big day. The Irish will score, but Pitt should have enough to keep control through the game.
Prediction: 34-31 Pitt