The Big East has had a rough go of it this year. ESPN's conference rankings bear that out, with the Big East trailing not only the dreadful ACC, but also the WAC and Mountain West. But, brighten up Big East football fan(s), your chance for redemption is at hand. The conference faces four BCS foes this week. Unfortunately, the match-ups are fairly cruel and will likely plunge the Big East further into the abyss.
Before getting into this week's picks, here's a rapid-fire recap from last week.
NC State embarrassed Cincinnati on national TV on Thursday. Temple outscored UConn 16-0 in the 4th quarter to grab a 14 point win. West Virginia handled a bad Maryland team to give the Big East their first win against a BCS opponent. Louisville was surprisingly competitive in the rain in Corvallis, falling just 7 points short. I'm telling you, watch out for Charlie Strong. Syracuse let Maine (Kirk Ferentz's first head coaching job) hang around for a half before pulling away in the second. Thankfully, 3 teams didn't play - Pitt, Rutgers and USF.
Your weekly quasi-analysis after the jump, along with 3(!) college basketball refences for you hoop heads.
Miami @ Pittsburgh (-1) 6:30 ESPN
Prediction: Miami 31 Pittsburgh 20
Miami and Pitt renew old Big East acquaintances on Thursday night. Pitt has lost 14 of their last 15 against the Hurricanes and this match-up doesn't look much better for the Panthers. Dion Lewis has started slowly (102 yards, 35 carries) and must step it up to give Pitt a chance. Tino Sunseri had a nice game against New Hampshire after struggling at Utah. Unfortunately, Miami will throw some better athletes out there than UNH. Miami will control the line of scrimmage and halt Pitt's offensive attack. On the other side of the ball, Pitt will experience life without stud DT Greg Romeus. Pitt must get pressure on Jacory Harris to force turnovers, but that task is made more difficult without the big fella in the middle. Miami should win this game easily.
Buffalo @ UConn (-21) 11:00 ESPN3
Prediction: UConn 27 Buffalo 10
Buffalo has struggled this year, losing at home to UCF last week and getting blasted at Baylor a couple of weeks ago. Their offense totaled 16 points and 4 turnovers in those games. UConn is coming off a bad loss at Temple and needs this game to get back to .500. The Huskies are not a great offensive team, but should be able to ground out some drives with Jordan Todman to get the win. They won't have enough juice to cover, though. So much for UConn winning the Big East...
Stanford (-1) @ Notre Dame 2:30 NBC
Prediction: Stanford 34 Notre Dame 21
This is a fun game. Brian Kelly needs a big win before the "meh" part of the schedule kicks in. On the other side, Jim Harbaugh is bound to make some headlines. After all, he iced Wake Forest's kicker at the end of the first half last week when Stanford held a 41-7 lead.
Stanford has eviscerated their three opponents this year by scores of 52-17, 35-0 and 68-24. Andrew Luck, who is Todd McShay's next man crush, is averaging 9.2 yards a pass with a 10-0 TD to INT ratio. Stanford is also punishing people on the ground, averaging 5.8 yards/carry with 5 guys totaling 90 yards on the year. Notre Dame's defense is just bad. They gave up 502 yards to Denard Robinson and surrendered 477 yards to Michigan St last week. I would pick Stanford huge if this game was in Palo Alto, but the Irish will keep it relatively close in South Bend.
North Carolina (-1) @ Rutgers 2:30 ESPNU
Prediction: UNC 27 Rutgers 17
This game is the Big East's best chance to get some respect against the BCS's other bottom dwelling conference. UNC has been ravaged by suspensions, but acquitted themselves fairly well against LSU and Georgia Tech. T.J. Yates has stepped up his game nicely to somewhat balance the massive defensive personnel losses. Rutgers, meanwhile, has staggered through their first two games, beating Norfolk St 31-0 and escaping FIU with a 19-14 win despite 186 yards of offense and three turnovers. Rutgers won't be able to muster enough offense to pull off the win. Tom Savage is only hitting on 50% of his passes at a 6.5 yards/attempt clip and Rutgers' running attack isn't much better.
Oklahoma (-13) @ Cincinnati 5:00 ESPN2
Prediction: Oklahoma 38 Cincinnati 14
It's been a brutal start for Cincinnati, losing to both Fresno St and NC State while giving up 15 sacks. Playing Oklahoma in Paul Brown Stadium won't help matters. The Sooners have been up and down this year, but as long either Landry Jones or Demarco Murray are standing, OU will be able to move the ball at will. There are some rays of hope for the Bearcats. OU was 0-5 on the road last year and they could be looking ahead to Texas next week. Unfortunately, Brian Kelly, Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard aren't around to take advantage. OU should cruise in this game. Hell, if UC wins, I will refrain from calling Mick Cronin "Golem" for the remainder of his tenure.
Western Kentucky @ South Florida (-28.5) 6:00 ESPN3
Prediction: USF 49 WKU 17
Can B.J. Daniels recover his mojo after put up a Jake Locker-esque 5-20 line against Florida two weeks ago? The spread is huge, but WKU has given up 50 ppg this year in 3 games. The deluge will continue for Dubya Kaay Youuu and USF will cover. Please don't watch this game. Bubba Sparks!
West Virginia @ LSU (-5) 8:00 ESPN2
Prediction: LSU 18 West Virginia 14
There are several reasons you should watch this game, most notably that it could end the world. That's seems like a fair assessment when you mix couch burning Mountaineers, LSU fans in their natural habitat and a wholly misguidedly awesome 8 pm start time. This is college footbaw in full effect folks!
Oh, you've come here for some quasi-analysis you say? Well, here you go. Both coaches are quite sketchy. On one hand, you have the Mad Hatter, Les Miles, famous for butchering end of game situations. On the other, you have Bill Stewart, who has taken WVU on a leisurely stroll into the valley of mediocrity since RichRod left Morgantown. Stewart proves that age-old adage that one should never, under any circumstances, hire the players' choice for a coach. I'm looking at you, Bobby Williams. LSU can't move the football and is nearly as petrified to pass as whoever the hell is coaching the Buffalo Bills these days. As per usual, the Tigers have a magnificent beast on defense. This time, it's cornerback Patrick Peterson, who is LSU's best source of offense. Geno Smith leads the now (relatively) pass happy WVU attack, with scatback Noel Devine in the backfield. I feel that LSU will be too physical for Devine and Peterson will intercept a couple of passes to set up LSU's 6 field goal barrage.
Saturday's Zoloft Special
Colgate @ Syracuse 2:30 ESPN3
I'm sorry Syracuse. While I really can't stand your basketball team and your whiny coach, I've always had a soft spot for your football team. The Orange's play has elevated this year, but you've played some dog-ass games, this one included. Is Adonal Foyle playing?
Last Week: 3-2 straight up, 2-3 ATS
Year to Date: 9-3 straight up, 6-6 ATS