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Bring Out the Cupcakes! Big East Football - Week 1 Preview

We may be a basketball only school, but that doesn't mean we have to be a basketball only blog.  Some here actually prefer college football to hoops.  That's another argument for another day, but as a Marquette basketball fan, you need to root for Big East football success.  Football success breeds conference stability to secure MU's future in the nation's premier basketball conference.  So, with that ringing endorsement, we begin the Anonymous Eagle's weekly Big East football preview. 

The Big East wanders the football desert in search of the border crossing to legitimacy.  Short of cash, TV sets and basketball's sweetheart ESPN TV deal, Big East football is forced to get creative to schedule the requisite 5 non-conference football games.  The upshot is they will play games on any day of the week against almost anyone to get a morsel of publicity.  That's why you see Pitt flying nearly 2,000 miles for the honor of playing a Week 1 game at Utah on the Versus Network.  Now, let's flip over that shiny penny full of daring match-ups to see the other acid-corroded side.  Like everyone else, the Big East needs em some cupcakes.  There are bills to pay and women's field hockey to support.  Unfortunately, most teams have few greenbacks, so instead of attracting a decent buy game like Southern Miss, they liberally dip into the Division 1-AA ranks for the likes of Coastal Carolina and Norfolk St.  The result in Week 1 is a top heavy slate of games.  Four games are quite interesting, while the other four are mercy killings.  Enjoy the quasi-analysis after the jump.

Thursday Games

Obviously, these are recaps, but I swear that I was all over the impending Pitt loss.

Pittsburgh Panthers @ Utah

27-24 Utah in OT

What's worse than flying cross country to play a dangerous team, in their biggest game of the year, with a quarterback making his first start (Tino Sunseri) behind an inexperienced offensive line?  If you guessed having Dave Wannstedt as your coach, then you win a Big East squishy stress ball!  (No, you don't, our budget doesn't allow it). 

Predictably, Pitt lost last night.  Fortunately, the game was entertaining in all sorts of macabre ways.  Let's go to the tally:

  1. Utah - Fumbling a punt on the sidelines when it was headed out of bounds - check!
  2. Pitt - Fumbling a kickoff that then rolled 20 yards upfield - check!
  3. Pitt - Recovering a blocked punt at the opponents' 5 yard line, followed by -12 yards of offense and a field goal - check!
  4. Utah - a guy named Shaky Smithson fumbling twice - check!
  5. Utah - blowing an 11 point lead in the last 6 minutes - check!
  6. Pitt - game winning TD called back by penalty - check!
  7. Pitt - running a draw on 3rd & 8 from the 10 with under 30 seconds to go, down by 3 - check!
  8. Utah - icing the kicker right before he shanks the game tying field goal - check!
  9. Pitt - throwing an INT on the first play of OT - check!

Pitt had no business getting the game into OT, but Utah's 3 turnovers kept them in the game.  If I was at Pitt fan, I would apoplectic about the play calling.  Every series started with two Dion Lewis runs and ended with an incomplete pass.  No imagination in the offensive gameplan whatsoever for the Panthers.  If they don't develop a competent passing attack, Lewis will be torn asunder as they year progresses.

Norfolk St @ Rutgers Scarlet Knights

31-0 Rutgers

I'll be honest; I chose not to watch this game.  Looking at the box score, I would be worried that golden boy Tom Savage was only 10-19 against MEAC competition.  On the other hand, Rutgers may have been all vanilla in anticipation of their huge tilt at Florida International next week. 

Saturday's Fun Games

Connecticut Huskies @ Michigan, 2:30 ABC

Prediction: Michigan 24 UConn 20

This is a very intriguing game for the Huskies and Wolverines as they christen the newly renovated Michigan Stadium.  I would pay particular attention to UConn's passing game.  Michigan is very thin in the secondary, but UConn doesn't have the passing attack to fully exploit that weakness.  Look for Denard Robinson to start for the Wolverines and have a big day to send the Big Blue fans home happy.  Regardless of the outcome, I like UConn's chances to take home the Big East crown.

Kentucky @ Louisville Cardinals, 2:30 ABC

Prediction: Kentucky 31 Louisville 17

Big claps to both UK and UL for rolling the dice and hiring African-American coaches.  Unfortunately for UL's Charlie Strong, he has to clean up the mind blowing mess that Steve Kragthorpe left in his wake.  UK has more talent on both sides of the ball and should come away with their fourth straight win in the series.  Louisville will be a team to watch in the next couple of years.

Cincinnati Bearcats @ Fresno St, 9:00 ESPN2

Cincinnati 34 Fresno St 28

It's a changing of the guard at both Cincinnati and Fresno St.  UC loses Brian Kelly and Fresno loses Ryan Mathews.  Butch Jones steps in for Kelly, just like he did at Central Michigan.  Jones continued the momentum at CMU and expect the Cincinnati offense to keep humming with Zach Collaros in the shotgun.  I'm not sure how Fresno will score 28 points, but we are talking about UC's defense here.  They coughed up 45 to Connecticut and 36 to Illinois last year.

Saturday's Bloodbaths

Let's face it, you won't watch these games, I won't watch these games and even Vegas won't watch these games (no lines on D-1AA games).  I'm sure WVU & USF will roll, hopefully no one gets hurt and all the area orphans get to see their first football game.

Coastal Carolina @ West Virginia Mountaineers, 6:00 ESPN3

Stony Brook @ South Florida Bulls, 7:00 ESPN3

Saturday's Zoloft Special

I will designate one particularly awful game every week as the depressing Zoloft special.  Not only will the game suck, but it may actually cause negative sexual side effects.

Syracuse Orange @ Akron, 6:00 ESPN3

How far has Syracuse football fallen?  The proud alma mater of Jim fucking Brown, Donovan McNabb and Ernie Davis is relegated to playing MAC teams on the road.  Hell, the Orange started a munchkin named Greg Paulus at quarterback last year in a vain attempt to put butts in the seats of the Carrier Dome.  Doug Marrone, heretofore known as "Tim Brewster East", will...will...fuck, who cares?  Certainly not Jim Boeheim.