If you thought last weekend in the Big East was a stinker, think again. This weekend, just five of the eight teams are in action, all playing non-conference opponents. Even worse, just one of those five opponents is from a major conference (Vanderbilt) and not a single ranked team is involved on either side.
The most interesting storyline of the week in the conference, however, doesn’t have anything to do with games this weekend. The New York Post reports that the Big East is taking a look at approximately a dozen teams as potential new members for football, with TCU atop the list.
Putting the obviously ridiculous geography of the notion of a team from Texas in the Big EAST, it makes a lot of sense. TCU would have access to the coveted automatic BCS bid the Big East offers (and let’s face it, if TCU were in the BE this season, the BCS bid would be VERY automatic for them), while the conference would an elite team from arguably the most fertile recruiting ground in the country.
Anyway, this is obviously far from becoming reality, but it’s another reminder that conference expansion is not over, especially with the tenuous position Big East football occupies.
Let’s get to the games.
Game of the Week – Vanderbilt @ Connecticut – Saturday 12 PM, ESPN3.com/Big East Network (WHAS in Louisville)
Who would have ever thought Vandy vs. UConn in football would be called game of the week anywhere? It’s not like it’s a marquee matchup, but you’ll see from the other choices that this designation was out of necessity alone.
This game is another chance for the Big East to pick up its SECOND win against a BCS conference opponent, and as good as any it has had. UConn is very middle of the road in the BE and Vandy is clearly in the bottom two or three in the SEC. Consequently, UConn is a favorite at home, but I’m not sold that they’re a good pick.
Ole Miss can attest that Vandy is dangerous. Vandy cannot throw the ball, but they know how to come at you in different ways running it and they get after you on D. UConn is giving up over 160 yards on the ground, so they will need to tighten the screws against the ‘Dores, who rushed for 221 yards in their last game.
These are two teams harboring bowl hopes (UConn’s are much more realistic) and this is a winnable game for both, therefore it is pretty important.
Game to Keep an Eye on – Louisville @ Arkansas State – Saturday 7 PM, ESPN3.com
We are a site that covers UK and UofL sports, and that’s the only reason this game gets the “keep an eye on it” designation.
Thus far this year, Arkansas State is just 1-3, but moving the ball has not been a problem for them. They are averaging well over 400 yards on offense and have yet to score fewer than 24 points, including 26 against Auburn. Starring for the Red Wolves is QB Ryan Aplin, who has thrown for 1196 yards already this year. He is also the team’s leading rusher with 146 yards. Containing Aplin, along with playmaking wideouts Allen Muse and Dwayne Frampton, will be key for the Cards.
I’ll leave the more detailed analysis to our UofL guys, but the guy I would really be concerned about is a redshirt freshman running back who has just six carries and four receptions. The reason I like him is his name: Sirgregory Thornton. How awesome is that?
Only If You Have Family Involved
Tulane @ Rutgers – Saturday 2 PM, ESPN3.com
Rutgers is bad offensively, Tulane is worse. Tulane is decent defensively, Rutgers is pretty good. This shouldn’t be close.
Florida Int’l @ Pitt – Saturday 3 PM, ESPN3.com
FIU has played a challenging schedule thus far in non-conference play, including close losses against Rutgers and Texas A&M. FIU is actually better on offense statistically than Pitt, though Pitt is pretty stiff on defense. Big plays and penalties have killed the Golden Panthers all year and I expect Dion Lewis to have a big game to bounce back from a rough outing against Miami.
Florida Atlantic @ South Florida – Saturday 7:05 PM, ESPN3.com
South Florida rushing offense (22nd nationally), meet FAU’s rushing defense (last in FBS). I think you will enjoy yourself.