Big East

Week 9 Big East Football Preview

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Only three games in the Big East this weekend which, for my money, is great news. With my negativity toward the Big East, you might think it’s because we are spared from watching any more than three games for an entire weekend.

Not so.

(Well…maybe a little bit)

The main reason why is that I only have to preview three games. That’s nice. Rutgers and South Florida are both on byes this weekend. The bye for the Scarlet Knights couldn’t came at a better time, as they are assuredly emotionally worn down after the horrific injury to Eric LeGrand two weeks ago. South Florida, on the other hand, is fresh off of their best win of the season and probably would rather hit the field again.

Without further ado, here’s what’s going in the Big East:

Game of the Week – Louisville @ Pittsburgh – Saturday 12 PM, Big East Network/ 

This game is a matchup between the favorite du jour in the Big East and a former power that is in the early stages of regaining their swagger. Pitt has looked pretty dominant en route to a 2-0 start, outscoring Syracuse and Rutgers by a combined score of 86-35. QB Tino Sunseri has looked great in those two games.

UofL, on the other hand, has looked much improved this season under Chuck Strong, especially on offense. However, in their first BE win of the season against UConn last weekend, the defense pitched a shutout, stymieing (what a funny word) Jordan Todman and company. They now hit the road to Heinz Field to face a stiffer challenge in Sunseri and running backs Dion Lewis and Ray Graham. Will the defense show up on Saturday?

In order for the Cards to play well defensively, they will need the offense to move the chains and to get Bilal Powell going against a defense that is allowing under 92.4 yards per game on the ground. Pitt may be a little too much for the Cardinals, but I look for UofL to put up a fight.

Games to Keep an Eye on

West Virginia @ UConn – Friday 8 PM, ESPN2

West Virginia lost a bad game last week to Syracuse and need to bounce back this week against a UConn team that is sputtering. Entering the year as one of the cool picks to win the Big East, the Huskies are just 3-4, including 0-2 in conference. They’ve got a home game here and they will need to capitalize on the Friday night crowd.

West Virginia bounced back with a 49-10 after their first loss of the season and they will hope to match that on short rest in Storrs. The Mountaineers looked awful on offense last week against the Orange and will face a team that has been spotty on defense at times. West Virginia has never lost to UConn and I don’t expect them to start now.

Syracuse @ Cincinnati – Saturday 12 PM, ESPNU

These are two teams that are still very much involved in the Big East race. Syracuse is off to an improbable 5-2 start (2-1 in BE play), while Cincinnati is just 3-4, but has split two Big East games. The Bearcats have put it together on offense in recent weeks, scoring at least 29 points four weeks in a row. They will face a Syracuse defense whose confidence was buoyed last weekend in a great performance against West Virginia.

I’m guessing the Cincinnati offense will move the ball since they are averaging nearly 450 yards a game. The D has been the problem. In fact, they give up more yards per game than Syracuse averages offensively. ‘Cuse doesn’t really have the passing game to capitalize on a weak Bearcat secondary and I think Butch Jones scheme is the best offense the Orange have seen.