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2010 Big East Fearless Picks - Sept 25
Pitt RB Dion Lewis
Pitt RB Dion Lewis
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 23, 2010


Fearless Predictions for every Big East game, Sept. 25

2010 Big East Fearless Predictions

Week 4 ... Sept. 25 Games

Big East 
Cincinnati | Connecticut | Louisville | Pittsburgh | Rutgers
South Florida | Syracuse | West Virginia

Big East Fearless Predictions 
- Sept. 18 | Sept. 11 | Sept. 4 

- More College Football Picks (and NFL, too)

CFN Big East Predictions:
SU: 18-3   ATS: 8-4-1

- Sept. 25, Part 2 (Oklahoma-Cincinnati) 

GAME OF THE WEEK

Miami (1-1) at Pittsburgh (1-1) Sept. 23, 7:30 ET, ESPN

Here’s The Deal … Having already lost their one high-profile game of the year to Ohio State and Utah, respectively, Miami and Pitt need this Thursday nighter to restore some swagger. The former Big East rivals are eager to get back on the field following difficult bye weeks. The Hurricanes were lambasted by the usually reserved Randy Shannon after their sloppy loss in Columbus, and then banned from using Twitter. With another weak performance, they’re sure to incur the coach’s wrath, while slipping out of the national lexicon for the foreseeable future. It’s also been a rough September for the Panthers, which dropped a heartbreaker to the Utes, lost star DE Greg Romeus to back surgery, and have had problems springing premier back Dion Lewis. The season has not started the way the program expected, making a visit from Miami more important than ever. Both schools have to have this game in order to jump start the 2010 season.
Why Miami Might Win: With QB Tino Sunseri still adjusting to being the starter and the interior of the Pitt line struggling, the ‘Canes will have the edge on defense. Up front, they can throw waves of size and speed at the Panthers, including versatile Allen Bailey and Marcus Forston. If Pitt hasn’t worked its problems out, it’s liable to get whipped in the trenches. Making matters even tougher, linebackers Sean Spence and Colin McCarthy cover plenty of ground and CB Brandon Harris is capable of keeping WR Jon Baldwin from taking the game over. Miami is going to have a special teams edge on just about every opponent this fall. All-star Matt Bosher has a handle on kicking and punting, and speedsters Travis Benjamin and Lamar Miller both had returns for touchdowns at Ohio State.
Why Pittsburgh Might Win: Losing Romeus hurts, but the Panthers still have enough talent to keep the Miami offense misfiring. DE Jabaal Sheard is ready to pick up the slack in the pass rush, and Chas Alecxih and Myles Caragein will generate a consistent push from the inside. Lewis has been slow out of the blocks, but it’s hard to imagine that continuing much longer. He has too much raw ability. Plus, he also has a very capable caddy, Ray Graham, who went for 115 yards and two scores on only nine carries in the New Hampshire win. If Baldwin draws too much attention, WR Mike Shanahan will hurt the ‘Canes with his size and sticky hands.
What To Watch Out For: Obviously, both quarterbacks will be under the microscope, as they’ll be for the rest of the year. Sunseri has to make some early connections in order to keep Miami from stacking the box to stop Lewis and Graham. Harris, having heard the critics for two weeks, needs to shake off the four-interception game in Columbus and start playing with more consistency. The team with the better quarterback on this night will leave Heinz Field a game over .500.
What Will Happen: No more Mr. Nice Guy. Miami got the message from Shannon, who isn’t going to tolerate inefficient play any longer. Harris will outplay Sunseri, tossing a couple of touchdown passes and, more important, reducing his errant throws. The Cane defense is going to cause problems for the Panthers, which must develop a greater degree of balance to beat a unit with so much speed and skill.
CFN Prediction: Miami 28 … Pittsburgh 22 … 5Dimes.com Line: Miami -3
Must See Rating: The Social Network – 5 … $#*! My Dad Says - 1 … 4
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Buffalo (1-2) at Connecticut (1-2) Sept. 25, 12:00 ET

Here’s The Deal … Something is very wrong in Storrs. Connecticut entered the season with so much hope and enthusiasm, yet has played miserably in its two games with FBS opponents. In the opener, the Huskies were blown out by Michigan. And on Saturday, they failed to hold a fourth quarter lead on Temple, wilting in the waning moments of a devastating 30-16 loss. Expect a shake-up in the lineup, with Randy Edsall already hinting that the depth chart will look different on Saturday. Buffalo has issues of its own in Jeff Quinn’s first season on the sidelines. Not unlike Connecticut, the Bulls have fattened up on an overmatched FCS program, but sputtered in recent games with Baylor and UCF. These two schools recruit some of the same players in the region, so more than just a victory will be at stake at Rentschler Field.
Why Buffalo Might Win: Through the tough start, Quinn has the Davonte Shannon-led defense playing relatively well. The Bulls are making stops in the backfield and limiting big plays. In the UCF loss, they only allowed 288 yards and a meager 4.2 yards a play. In Connecticut, Buffalo will be facing an offense that scored just 26 points in the Michigan and Temple games, and is unsettled at quarterback. The Huskies can run the ball with Jordan Todman, but until the passing game catches up, the Bulls can stack the box with linebackers Justin Winters, Khalil Mack, and Raphael Akobundu.
Why Connecticut Might Win: As bad as the Husky offense has been, the Bulls have actually been worse. In the two games that matter, Baylor and UCF, they produced just one offensive touchdown and were unable to protect QB Jerry Davis. A broken leg to RT Matt Ostrowski further complicates the picture. Connecticut will have few problems shutting this group down, dominating on the interior with Twyon Martin and Kendall Reyes, and getting sideline-to-sideline support from linebackers Lawrence Wilson and Greg Lloyd. Turnover margin will tilt heavily in favor of the home team.
What To Watch Out For: The one constant for Connecticut has been Todman, who’ll again be counted on to be the workhorse. A one-man force on the ground in Philadelphia last weekend, he battered the Owls for 192 yards and a score on 26 carries. It’s a good thing he added more muscle in the offseason because the Huskies will continue to ride him until others on offense step up.
What Will Happen: It couldn’t have been pleasant being around Edsall at practice this week. He’s a no-nonsense guy, who’s losing his patience with this Connecticut team. The Huskies will vent in the direction of overmatched Buffalo, giving up little ground on defense and getting another big day between the tackles from Todman.
CFN Prediction: Connecticut 33 … Buffalo 9 … 5Dimes.com Line: Connecticut -20.5
Must See Rating: The Social Network – 5 … $#*! My Dad Says - 1 … 4
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North Carolina (0-2) at Rutgers (2-0) Sept. 25, 3:30 ET, ESPNU

Here’s The Deal … About a month ago, this game looked as if it might have had marquee potential. And then cracks began to appear in the foundation of both schools. North Carolina remains mired in a messy NCAA investigation that’s claimed a dozen key players, mostly on defense. Despite valiant efforts, the Tar Heels fell short to LSU and Georgia Tech by identical 30-24 scores. If something positive doesn’t happen soon, Butch Davis is going to have a rugged time keeping his kids motivated. Ironically, Rutgers has the perfect record, yet hasn’t played nearly as well as Carolina. Two games have exposed all kinds of flaws on both sides of the ball for the Scarlet Knights. It’s a good thing they scheduled Norfolk State and Florida International before the off week, or else the record would be more indicative of how poorly they’ve executed.
Why North Carolina Might Win: The Heels come in game-ready, having faced substantially better competition. The offense, relatively unaffected by the suspensions, has picked up a lot of the slack, getting a fast start from QB T.J. Yates and receivers Jheranie Boyd, Zack Pianalto, and Erik Highsmith. The running game got a boost from the return of Shaun Draughn and the play of blue-collar Johnny White, who went for 113 yards and a score on 17 carries last week. A questionable Rutgers secondary hasn’t been challenged the way it’ll be this week.
Why Rutgers Might Win: The Scarlet Knight offense has been feeble so far, but a visit from North Carolina could help unlock the unit’s potential. It’s going to be tough to run the ball, especially with Joe Martinek nursing a bad ankle, so the staff will put its fate in the hands of QB Tom Savage. He’ll be working against a Tar Heel secondary that’s been especially hard hit by the suspensions. Expect to see a heavy dose of versatile and explosive WR Mohamed Sanu, who’ll be used as a receiver and take direct snaps in the “Wildcat” package.
What To Watch Out For: Carolina needs to do a better job of protecting Yates if the team is going to post a win for the first time in 2010. He’s not especially mobile, which presents a problem against a fast and disruptive front wall of Rutgers. He’ll have to keep his head on a swivel for Jonathan Freeny and pay attention to Scott Vallone busting through the middle of the line.
What Will Happen: Toss out the records. Carolina has accomplished more in an 0-2 start than Rutgers has by opening 0-2. The Knights’ struggles against Florida International two weeks ago will be magnified by the Tar Heels, who’ll get a huge effort out of the front seven and enough from Yates & Co. to finally break into the win column.
CFN Prediction: North Carolina 28 … Rutgers 21 … 5Dimes.com Line: Rutgers -1
Must See Rating: The Social Network – 5 … $#*! My Dad Says - 1 … 3
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Colgate (1-1) at Syracuse (2-1) Sept. 25, 3:30 ET

Here’s The Deal … It’s been seven years since Syracuse began a season 3-1. With a win Saturday, it’ll reach that benchmark, a tangible and symbolic gesture of the progress being made by second-year head coach Doug Marrone. Sure, the disclaimer reads that the Orange’s two wins came over Akron and Maine, but when you’ve been down as long as this program has been, there’s no need to focus too hard on the fine print. With the start of Big East play nearing, Marrone is trying to build confidence and a little head of steam while he has a chance. Colgate heads upstate having split its two games, holding off a late rally from Monmouth before being outclassed by Furman. The Raiders are the Patriot League favorite, looking for a 15th straight winning season under head coach Dick Biddle.
Why Colgate Might Win: Biddle’s teams are always disciplined and very well-coached. The Raiders won’t be flustered by playing in the Carrier Dome. The offense, in particular, is flush with returning veterans, including nine starters from the 2009 squad. QB Greg Sullivan is a versatile third-year starter, who doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, and RB Nate Eachus is one of the top runners at the FCS level, going for at least 100 yards in 12 of his last 15 full games.
Why Syracuse Might Win: The loss to Furman shined a light on how much work Colgate needs to do on defense. The Raiders were gutted for 377 yards on the ground in a hint of what’s to come this weekend. The Orange will dish out a steady diet of RB Delone Carter, who’s set to explode after being somewhat bottled up against Maine. Biddle will be forced to respect the pass as well after Ryan Nassib flipped a school-record five touchdown passes last weekend. The sophomore is confident and determined to pick up where he left off.
What To Watch Out For: A few days after starting WR Aaron Weaver was lost for the year to an ACL tear, the rest of the Orange receivers did a nice job of picking up the slack for Nassib. Van Chew appears to be his favorite target, catching seven balls for 113 yards and a score, while Alec Lemon and TE Nick Provo are also getting more involved with the attack. Syracuse needs these guys to come through in order to take some heat off Carter and the running game.
What Will Happen: After getting off to a slow start a week ago, Syracuse is determined to get out of the gate a little quicker. In the battle of the backs, Carter will trump Eachus, cutting loose for 175 yards and a couple of scores. Colgate’s lack of a reliable passing game will haunt them in this one, allowing the Orange to press up at the line of scrimmage and tempt Sullivan to make plays through the air.
CFN Prediction: Syracuse 48 … Colgate 7 … 5Dimes.com Line: No Line
Must See Rating: The Social Network – 5 … $#*! My Dad Says - 1 … 1
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- Sept. 25, Part 2 (Oklahoma-Cincinnati)