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September 13, 2007

WVU braces for battle with Maryland

MORE WEEK 3 BREAKDOWNS: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

FOX'S BIG EAST PICKS
Tonight's game
Saturday's games
Connecticut 31, Temple 14
Michigan State 21, Pittsburgh 10
Illinois 28, Syracuse 9
Cincinnati 21, Miami (Ohio) 17
Rutgers 49, Norfolk State 10
Kentucky 42, Louisville 35
Overview: The Big East may have found a few more believers last week after upset wins by USF (over Auburn on the road) and Cincinnati (over Oregon State at home). This week offers other key out-of-conference matchups. Louisville and Cincinnati face their top in-state rivals. Pittsburgh will look to redeem itself after an embarrassing loss to Michigan State a year ago. Also, West Virginia faces perhaps the toughest team in its non-conference schedule tonight at Maryland.

Best matchup: Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm vs. Kentucky quarterback Andre' Woodson. The two insist they're not going head-to-head, but the Brohm-Woodson matchup will be an interesting subplot in the Bluegrass State rivalry. Both lead high-powered offenses against defenses that have struggled at times. Brohm and Woodson have combined for 7,848 yards and 61 touchdown passes since the start of the 2006 season.

The pressure is on: Greg Robinson and Syracuse. Syracuse is 0-2. The rest of the Big East is a combined 14-0. This week will match two of the least successful coaching hires of 2005 in terms of wins and losses. Robinson and Illinois' Ron Zook are 5-20 at their respective schools. Only Utah State's Brent Guy (4-21) has fewer wins out of the '05 hires.

Who's hot: USF defensive end George Selvie leads the nation in tackles for losses with 9.5 and sacks with 5.5. Louisville has won seven of the past eight meetings with Kentucky. Cincinnati leads the nation with a plus-13 turnover margin.

Who's not: Syracuse ranks last in the Big East in all major offensive (rushing, passing, yards and scoring) and defensive (rushing, passing, yards and scoring) categories. Pitt is 0-5-1 all-time against Michigan State, including a 38-23 loss last season. The Spartans scored 28 consecutive points in the second-half.

Keep your eye on: West Virginia wide receiver Darius Reynaud is the Mountaineers' best weapon on the outside. Though you can't put much stock in it because it was against Villanova and Florida International, Maryland has allowed only 46.5 rushing yards per game. Reynaud provided the turnaround for West Virginia last week by scoring the first two touchdowns and catching nine passes for 134 yards.

Numbers game: With USF's victory at Auburn, the Big East has won six consecutive games against SEC teams. USF received 220 votes and Cincinnati 12 in this week's AP poll (but remained unranked) after upsets of Auburn and Oregon State.

Freshman to watch: Pittsburgh true freshmanLeSean McCoy rushed for 107 yards and three touchdowns last week against Grambling. This week, he faces a tough Mark Dantonio-led defense at Michigan State.

Injury update: Pittsburgh tackle Gus Mustakas, the Panthers' best defensive lineman, will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his left knee. Louisville safety Latarrius Thomas will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his left knee. Syracuse center Marvin McCall (ankle) is questionable for the Illinois game.

They said it: "Whoever put them up there, it's ridiculous. Lexington is in Lexington and Louisville is Louisville."
-Louisville wide receiver Harry Douglas on rival Kentucky's 11 "Believe in Blue" billboards around Louisville.

"At the very least, you'd think the Rutgers students would have some appreciation for the effort the undersize Navy players put out. ... They are what Rutgers was not so many years ago. Students first, athletes second. Except better."
-Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger columnist Mark DiIonno, a Rutgers graduate and Navy veteran, on profanity-laced taunts Rutgers fans directed toward Navy players and fans last week. Rutgers President Richard McCormick wrote an open letter to the Naval Academy apologizing for the fans' actions.

BIG EAST STANDINGS
TeamConf.All
Louisville0-02-0
Wet Virginia0-02-0
Cincinnati0-02-0
Connecticut0-02-0
Rutgers0-02-0
Pittsburgh0-02-0
South Florida0-02-0
Syracuse0-00-2
"What are you going to do? Are you going to rip him in the middle of the game? That's never going to help. I was real nice to him the first few times, then I grabbed ahold of him, and he said 'I'm letting my teammates down.' I said, 'Let me tell you something, son; you miss this next one and you're really going to let them down.' "
- USF coach Jim Leavitt on the reaction on the sideline of kicker Delbert Alvarado, who missed four of six field-goal attempts against Auburn.

"We're a BCS conference. We have to look at our schedule and find out is it in our best interest to travel to a non-BCS school? We have to think about that. That's going to be a decision that's made above my pay grade, but I have my influence in it and I make my opinion known."
- Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly on playing a home-and-home series against in-state rival Miami (Ohio) in The Cincinnati Enquirer. The teams meet for the 112th time Saturday; it's tied for the fifth most-played rivalry in the nation.

Worth noting: Pittsburgh will have to search for a new athletic director after Jeff Long took the AD position at Arkansas, replacing Frank Broyles. Former Miami linebacker Willie Williams made his Louisville debut against Middle Tennessee last week. He finished with one tackle. Cincinnati freshman Jake Rogers, who missed a field goal and two extra points in Week One against Southeast Missouri State, kicked a 55-yard field goal in Week Two against Oregon State. Connecticut coach Randy Edsall is displeased with the conditions at Rentschler Field. There were brown spots and chunks of turf kicked up during UConn's opener with Maine. "We scrimmaged there on Aug. 22 and had no problems. Between Aug. 22 and Sept. 8, something happened," he said. Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel ranks fourth in the nation in passing efficiency with a 224.75 rating. He ranked 68th last season (120.59 rating).

MORE WEEK 3 BREAKDOWNS: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC



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