Thursday, October 21, 2010

Big East Preview, Week 8

CINCINNATI - SEPTEMBER 25: Zach Collaros  of the Cincinnati Bearcats runs with the ball during the game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

This week’s picks are dedicated to Eric LeGrand of Rutgers, who was paralyzed from the neck down against Army last week. We wish Eric the best of luck in this new battle in hislife. Just another reminder about how life can really suck.

Last Week: 3-1
Overall: 34-9

Bye Week: none

South Florida at Cincinnati: The Bearcats needed all of 60 minutes to beat Louisville last week, but it was a win. The offense is running on all cylinders, while the defense could still use some work. However, this is a good match-up for a defense looking for some confidence. South Florida’s offense is a disaster, and BJ Daniels continues to be the conductor. This is an offense that also has no true playmakers, so it’s hard to put it all on Daniels. The Bulls’ defense has kept them in a lot of these games, but will struggle to slow Zach Collaros and the Cincy offense down. The Bearcats are back, and will win their 15th conference game in a row. Time to remember this team was one of the favorites at the beginning of the year.

Prediction: 34-20 Cincinnati

Connecticut at Louisville: The Huskies continue to deal with adversity through what can only be described as a “frustrating” year. Now Connecticut deals with the indefinite suspension of starting quarterback, Cody Endres. Endres has started for two of the three wins for the Huskies this year. They now go back to relying on Zach Frazer, who basically did nothing earlier this season. It will be no surprise that Connecticut will rely on the running game against the Cardinals this weekend. This isn’t a terrible plan considering Louisville struggles stopping the run. Look for Jordan Todman to have a solid day. However, the unbalanced offense could limit the scoring opportunities. Meanwhile, look for Louisville to have a balanced attack against a shaky Husky defense. Connecticut hasn’t lived up to expectations defensively either, allowing over 21 points in each of the last four games. Look for another statement to be made by the Cardinals, lead by Adam Froman and Bilel Powell.

Prediction: 31-21 Louisville

Syracuse at (20) West Virginia: What once looked like a solid match-up lost some luster. The Orange were absolutely plastered by Pitt last weekend, and now come to Morgantown looking for consistency. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers continue to be lead by a stifling defense, and a sophomore QB who is the model of efficiency. Geno Smith continues to be smart with the football, and is going through reads like an upperclassman. The Mountaineers will look to get the ground game going again as well. They have lost some of their balance over the past few weeks. However, this team is truly led by the defense. WVU has been one of the best teams on third down this year, and look for them to put a lot of pressure of Ryan Nassib. It will be key for the Orange to try to get Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey going. It will be a tough task against this defense, but it will be the only way to alleviate the Mountaineer pressure. Look for Syracuse to hang around in this game, due to their defense, and a lack of creativity for WVU on offense. But, at the end of the day, too many solid plays for the Mountaineer defense will key the victory.

Prediction: 28-13 West Virginia

Game of the Week: Rutgers at Pittsburgh: There’s no telling which direction Rutgers may go in following the devastating injury to Eric LeGrand. Are they extra-motivated? Or, will they struggle to get things going? If they struggle to come out you can’t blame them. To try to play at full speed after watching one of their brothers getting paralyzed on the field has to be incredibly difficult. However, I fully expect the Knights to come out balling. They take on a Pittsburgh team that seems to have the mojo back. The Panthers ran and threw all over Syracuse last week, and now look to bring a balanced attack against one of the best defenses in the country. However, this defense really struggled against the run last week, though it was the Army option. Look for the Knights to stack the box and make Tin Sunseri have to beat them. Sunseri had a decent game against Syracuse, but still needs to prove he is legit. This will be a great test for him. Look for Pittsburgh to break the Rutgers’ defense down with quick passes and screens. This should also open up the ground attack. Pitt’s defense should be able to create mismatches as well, and disturb Chas Dodd. This will be a big win either way, but Pitt seems to be the safer pick, as the Panthers try to make everyone remember they were once the conference favorite. Too many breakdowns for that Rutgers defense will make things tough for the young offense to keep up.

Prediction: 33-17 Pitt



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