Beginning this week, I am going to be previewing the weekend in action in both the Big East and SEC every Friday. Check back on Monday, because I will be recapping the weekend in both conferences and giving my power rankings in each. First up, we’re going to take a look at the Big East. Louisville is off this week, but I’m going to try to help Cards fans keep tabs on their conference opponents.
Conference play has yet to open in the Big East, and this weekend we have another set of out of conference games for everybody. There are a few intriguing matchups and a few absolute stinkers, so I’ll help you book your schedule for the weekend by sifting through the games for the best ones.
The weekend started inauspiciously for the conference, as Miami beat down Pittsburgh at Heinz Field by a score of 31-3 in a game filled with injuries. Pitt was down just 10-0 at the half, but was overwhelmed in the second half. Let’s look at what else is on the menu.
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Game of the Week – #22 West Virginia (3-0) @ #15 LSU (3-0) – 9 PM Saturday, ESPN2
This is a game between two teams who have survived close calls early to maintain their unbeaten records. LSU held off a North Carolina comeback in week one and West Virginia put together a miraculous comeback versus Marshall. It’s a big game for both, but a little bigger for West Virginia, at least in my opinion, because this is probably the Mountaineers’ (and maybe the entire Big East’s) opportunity for a big win.
LSU is, as per usual, strong defensively. They run the ball well and have a ton of talent. West Virginia though, has shown over the past years that it can move the ball on almost anyone. Behind sophomore Geno Smith, WVU is throwing for nearly 300 yards a game while Noel Devine is dicing opposing defenses. UNC and Tyler Yates nearly passed their way past the Tigers, so they may be susceptible.
LSU is a ten point favorite in Death Valley, but I look for this to be a late night nail biter, and I’m not sure Jordan Jefferson has what it takes to win it.
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Games to Keep an Eye on
#8 Oklahoma (3-0) @ Cincinnati (1-2) – 6 PM Saturday, ESPN2
Oklahoma has played close games against two teams they probably should have beaten easier than they should have (Utah State and Air Force) and absolutely destroyed a team that many thought would compete with them (Florida State). Cincinnati, on the other hand, has struggled in their first year under new head coach Butch Jones. They have struggled badly on offense and have been iffy on defense.
Oklahoma is playing their first road game of the year so far and has shown the capability to play down to their competition, so you should at least check the score of this game. With that said, Demarco Murray should be just a bit too much to handle for the Bearcats.
UNC (0-2) @ Rutgers (2-0) – Saturday 3:30 PM, ESPNU
UNC has lost tough games to two solid opponents by a score of 30-24, while Rutgers has won games against two weaker teams. The Tar Heels are still struggling with their, ahem, issues, so this is a game Rutgers needs to win to have the kind season they want. Defensively, Rutgers has been very solid, but they have struggled to move the ball, even against the likes of Norfolk State and Florida International. Look for the Scarlet Knights to pound it out on the ground and try to wear out the very thin Tar Heel defense.
Only If You Have a Family Member Playing
Buffalo (1-2) @ Connecticut (1-2) – Saturday 12 PM, ESPN3.com
Buffalo made a foray into respectability under Turner Gill, but they appear to be returning to the awfulness status quo with losses, and not close ones, to Central Florida and Baylor. UConn, for its part, isn’t all that much better. Combine those two factors, and you have a game that you don’t need to go out of your way to watch.
Colgate (1-1) @ Syracuse (2-1) – Saturday 3:30 PM, ESPN3.com
Atypically, Syracuse actually has a winning record right now, but their wins are against less than stellar competition. With FCS Colgate coming to the Carrier Dome, their winning ways should continue for another week.
Western Kentucky (0-3) @ South Florida (1-1) – Saturday 7:05 PM, ESPN3.com
This is the Bulls first game since their trip to the Swamp where they got an early lead on the Gators, but eventually succumbed, mostly because BJ Daniels could not hold onto the ball. Daniels is very capable of hitting the big play with his arm and his legs, but he’s just as capable of tossing a pick six. The Hilltoppers are still struggling in their FBS transition, but they have some talent in Bobby Rainey, as both Nebraska and UK can attest. However, their defense will not be able to contain Daniels, even though he may hand them a turnover. Even still, this one shouldn’t be all that competitive.