I will say this first, because it's the most important takeaway from last week's games. Thoughts and prayers go out to Eric LeGrand and his family and friends. LeGrand suffered an injury last Saturday that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Get well soon buddy, we are all rooting for you.
If one was going to hype last week's games, the WWL theme would be something along the lines of Separation Saturday followed by lightning bolts, Erin Andrews' hair extensions and Stu Scott's fake eye. Separation is what we received, with Cincinnati and West Virginia looking like the cream of the Big East crop. Despite their early season struggles, Cincinnati is enjoyed their return to Big East play by toppling Louisville on the road. Pittsburgh laughed in the face of Syracuse's "resurgence" with a 45-14 win at the Carrier Dome. West Virginia did what it needed to do and dispatched USF in Morgantown. Finally, Rutgers pulled off an overtime win against Army.
More separation of sorts is in order for this weekend. This time, the separation will come between the soft, gooey middle of the conference and dregs. Who will spiral down to the depths of bowl-lessness and who should start planning for trips to Memphis/Birmingham, NYC, Charlotte and the Beef O'Brady's Bowl? Big East excitement, catch the fever on ESPN3!
Picks and quasi-analysis after the jump.
South Florida @ Cincinnati (-8) 7:00 ESPN2
Prediction: Cincinnati 28 South Florida 10
This game will play out similarly to West Virginia's win over USF last Thursday. UC isn't very good defensively, but USF doesn't have enough offensive weapons to take advantage of any defense. South Florida's defense will keep them within striking distance for three quarters, but the combination of Zach Collaros's passing, Isaiah Pead's running and the dual receiving threat of Armon Binns & DJ Woods will allow UC to pull away late.
Rutgers @ Pittsburgh (-13) 11:00 ESPN3
Prediction: Pitt 23 Rutgers 14
Wow, Pitt really destroyed Syracuse last week. They must be back on track, right? Right? I'm still not sold on the Panthers. They benefitted from four Orange turnovers and only outgained the Cuse by 81 yards. Their defense remains solid, but the offense is still a work in progress. Army outgained Rutgers by 150 yards last week and the Knights continue to underwhelm on offense. I like Pittsburgh to win, but not cover because of the big 13 point spread. Rutgers will keep it close with some solid defense just like they have done all year.
Syracuse @ West Virginia (-13.5) 11:00 ESPN2
Prediction: West Virginia 31 Syracuse 13
I'm going to keep saying it until proven wrong. The Mountaineers are the class of the Big East. Syracuse is 4-2 because they played a Bill Snyder-esque non-conference schedule. Syracuse doesn't have the offense to keep this one close in Morgantown.
Connecticut @ Louisville (-2.5) 2:30 ESPNU
Prediction: Louisville 27 UConn 17
UConn started out as the favorite but that was before their starting quarterback, Cody Endres, was kicked off the team. Redshirt freshman Michael Box will start under center for the Huskies. The offensive load will fall to RB Jordan Todman, who averages 152 ypg and has gone over 100 yards in each contest. Louisville struggles to stop the run, ranking 63rd nationally in rushing defense. Look for Louisville to load up in the box and force Box (hehehe) to beat them. On the other side of the ball, Louisville can also beat you with the run. Bilal Powell averages 150 ypg rushing with a ridiculous 7.8 yards per carry average. It's hard to pick a RS freshman making his first start on the road. Louisville will win by two scores.
Zoloft Game of the Week
Notre Dame (-6.5) vs. Navy (East Rutherford, NJ) 11:00 CBS
Prediction: Notre Dame 28 Navy 17
What storyline can we drum up for this game now that Navy has taken down Notre Dame in two of the past three years? Navy has struggled to score against their only stiff competition, Maryland and Air Force. Notre Dame hasn't been able to stop anyone, but the offense seems to be rolling along. This game started off at -4 and bounced up to -6.5, but I still like the Irish to win easily. The Irish are going to finish the season strong against weak competition, fueling the off-season hype machine and eventual 2011 face-plant.
Last Week: 4-1 straight up, 3-2 ATS
Year to Date: 29-6 straight up, 17-18 ATS