Thursday, September 30, 2010

Big East Preview, Week 5

LOUISVILLE, KY - AUGUST 31:  Bilal Powell #33 of the Louisville Cardinals runs the ball during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on August 31, 2008 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)


The conference failed once again to make a statement last week. And may not have another chance until bowl season. It’s now time for the Big East to stop the bleeding. It should start this weekend with games that are very winnable. To the picks…

Last Week: 6-1
Overall: 23-5

Bye: WVU, Cincinnati, Syracuse

Florida International at Pittsburgh: The Panthers were flat-out embarrassed last week at home. Tino Sunseri continues to struggle, and it’s killing the running game. Dion Lewis has to deal with seven or eight players in the box consistently, because opposing teams don’t have to respect the pass. Pitt’s defense isn’t anything to write home about either. Between injuries, arrests, and inexperience, the Panthers are genuinely lost. This week is huge for Pitt to turn it around…and turn it around fast. FIU comes to town, and is very beatable. The Golden Panthers are only averaging 20 points per-game, and were blown out by a fairly weak Maryland team just last week. Expect Pitt to get back to the short pass game. This should open Lewis and the ground game up. This, in effect, should open up the potential of the big-play pass that Pitt has been missing. Jon Baldwin is too good of a receiver not use constantly. If the Panthers get back to basics they’ll win easily.

Prediction: 38-21 Pittsburgh

Florida Atlantic at South Florida: Well, the Bulls continue to turn the ball over at will, and can’t score. Fortunately, the Bulls have a stingy defense (this seems to be a theme in the Big East.) South Florida now welcomes the Owls into Tampa for what should be a victory for Skip Holtz’ team. FAU is one-dimensional on offense, and has no defense. If the Bulls force the Owls into many 3rd and long situations FAU won’t put much on the board. This is also another week for the USF offense to potentially wake the hell up. The rushing game is there, but the passing game is unacceptable. BJ Daniels needs to be more of a leader out on the field. It may begin this weekend.

Prediction: 31-10 USF

Tulane at Rutgers: Just like USF or Pitt or UConn, Rutgers can’t get their act together offensively. The Knights blew numerous opportunities last week. Turning the ball over in the redzone equals losses…just ask WVU. Good news for Rutgers is that starting QB Tom Savage should be okay. However, that could be bad news. Savage hasn’t been impressive at all, though the Knight’s QB depth chart isn’t exactly solid. With the offense struggling mightily look for Rutgers’ defense to pace the team. The Knight’s D is second in the nation in points scored, and will put a hurting on the Green Wave. And just like USF, Pitt, and UConn the offense should be able to wake up a bit this week, as they take on an inferior opponent.

Prediction: 29-7 Rutgers

Louisville at Arkansas State: The Cardinals should be licking their collective chops. Louisville has an opportunity to go on the road, put up a big number, and pick up their first away victory since 2008. All Louisville has to do is play like they did two weeks ago at Oregon State. This means playing with confidence, mistake-free, and smart. They shouldn’t struggle on offense. Arkansas State has one of the worst defenses in all of FBS. If Louisville can hold onto the ball, and limit ASU’s big plays then it will be a victory. If they go in there, and find themselves down big early, then it will be a long day. Have some faith in Louisville this weekend.

Prediction: 34-28 Louisville

Game of the Week: Vanderbilt at Connecticut: The Huskies may actually have some hope. The passing offense seems to be back with Cody Endres taking over. Endres threw the ball well last week, and helped UConn wake up. The Huskies now take on a beatable SEC opponent, which could end up being the best non-conference win for the Big East. Vandy comes in with mixed results. The defense has been respectable, but the offense needs a boost. The good thing for the Commodores is that UConn struggles against the run. Look for Warren Norman to try to establish the ground game early. Vanderbilt doesn’t have much of a passing game, so expect a lot of slow drives. UConn should have more success in stopping that ground attack, considering they will stack the box. Look for UConn to get back to what many expected this year: a stout defense. This should be a close game, but look for the UConn defense to give plenty of opportunities for Endres and Company to get the job done.

Prediction: 28-20 Connecticut

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