Thursday, October 07, 2010
It’s finally time for some conference games. Some good match-ups to kick things off. This is an opportunity for Syracuse and Connecticut to have early success on the road, and jump up the standings. It’s also a week for Pitt to have a possible shock win. Can it happen? To the picks!!!
Last Week: 4-1
Bye week: None
Miami (OH) at Cincinnati: The Bearcats seemed to find an identity last time out. Granted, it was a loss, but it was a respectable loss to Oklahoma. They actually should have won. Mistakes do continue to haunt them. Cincinnati now hosts a Miami team best known for a near win over Florida in week one. The Bearcats should have plenty of offensive success, especially with more balance. The run game has come back, and look for Zach Collaros to start putting up big rush and pass numbers. Cincy also has an opportunity to work on the defense. The RedHawks are not very scary, and make even more mistakes than the Bearcats. Butch Jones will get his boys on track early in this one.
Prediction: 36-13 Cincinnati
UNLV at West Virginia: This should be a comfortable win with or without Noel Devine. The senior tailback may be out due to an injury he picked up against LSU. However, the Rebels are pretty terrible. They are allowing over 30 points a game, so look for the Mountaineers to attack early and often. Geno Smith will look to regain his early season form, and will have plenty of opportunities if Noel sits. The Mountaineer defense should continue to improve. Look for the pass rush to haunt UNLV all day. The Rebels rarely go east, and when they do it’s usually pretty ugly. Mountaineers roll.
Prediction: 41-14 West Virginia
Memphis at Louisville: The Cardinals have an opportunity to win two games in a row. That may not sound that impressive, but this would be a huge step for Charlie Strong’s team. Louisville will look to build on a solid offensive performance from last week. Adam Froman and Bilal Powell combined for over 450 yards, and will lead the attack against a dreadful Memphis defense. The Tigers statistically have one of the worst defenses in the land and will surely slip early. If Memphis can’t keep it close, then Louisville will cruise. However, the Cardinals need to play better defensively. Last week Louisville nearly gave away a 24-point lead. It may not matter against the dregs of society, but conference teams will bite them. Look for the Cardinals to dominate early, and really force Memphis take too many chances. This game should be over by the 3rd quarter.
Prediction: 38-20 Louisville
UConn at Rutgers: Talk about two teams going in very different directions. On one hand you have the Huskies. This is a team that has been soaring with Cody Endres running the offense. The ground game continues to shine, and now pas or two may actually be completed. The defense is playing better, and it seems that normalcy may be back in Storrs. Then you have Rutgers. Here’s a team with one of the best defenses in the nation, but couldn’t find the endzone even if it was on the Jersey Shore. The Knights offense is abysmal, with no help in sight. Look for UConn to stack the box, and send pressure all game long. It’s what everyone else is doing and it seems to work. Offensively, the Huskies will try to control the clock as much as possible. Don’t expect a ton of success against this stingy Rutgers’ defense. The problem for the Knights though is that a few successful drives will probably be enough for the Huskies to prevail.
Prediction: 21-13 Connecticut
Syracuse at South Florida: It’s been some time since Syracuse faced an FBS opponent, but credit them for easily handling the FCS opposition. Now the Orange head down to Tampa to face a stingy defense, but an offense that’s missing its wings. South Florida has been winning games, but it hasn’t been impressive. The Bulls will have to go to the air to beat Syracuse. The Orange defense will certainly be stacking the box. South Florida should have some luck based on sheer athleticism, but don’t expect them to run away with it, especially if they continue to turn the ball over. The Orange will look to maintain its balance on offense. Delone Carter has run well, and Ryan Nassib has been a pleasant surprise. The issue wasn’t the arm of Nassib, but the decision-making. Nassib has been very impressive with the football, and will have to be against this defense. This should be a close game throughout. Look for USF to escape relying on their defense, and the loud crowd. The Orange seem to be improving, but may not be ready to win this type of game.
Prediction: 23-20 USF
Game of the Week: Pittsburgh at Notre Dame: This doesn’t seem to be a great match-up for Pittsburgh. The Panthers are soft in the secondary and the Irish love to throw the football. Pitt can’t throw the ball and Notre Dame can stop the run. So, why is this the game of the week? Because it’ Notre Dame, and they tend to always play close games…and this should be no different. Look for the Panthers’ defense to play aggressively and try to force Dayne Crist into low percentage passes. Crist is liable to make a mistake or two. And look for Tino Sunseri to potentially have a decent day. The good thing for Sunseri is that receivers will be open. The Irish secondary resembles the New England Patriots. This may open up the rushing attack for Dion Lewis and Ray Graham. If all of these things happen then Pitt can win. Sadly for them it probably won’t. Brian Kelly knows this Pitt defense and will look to exploit it just as he did last year. Also look for the Irish to mix up their pass rush to confuse Sunseri, which shouldn’t be too difficult. Pitt probably keeps it close, but won’t keep up all night.
Prediction: 31-21 Notre Dame