2010 Big East Fearless Picks - (USF-WVU)
West Virginia QB Geno Smith
West Virginia QB Geno Smith
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 13, 2010


Fearless Predictions for every Big East game, Oct. 16

2010 Big East Fearless Predictions

Week 7 ... Oct. 16 Games

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

Big East Fearless Predictions 
- Oct. 9 | Oct. 2 | Sept. 25 | Sept. 18 | Sept. 11 | Sept. 4 

- More College Football Picks (and NFL, too)

CFN Big East Predictions: SU: 34-5   ATS: 17-11-2 

GAME OF THE WEEK

South Florida (3-2) at West Virginia (4-1) Oct. 14, 7:30 ET, ESPN

Here's The Deal … As the Big East schedule begins to go into full swing, West Virginia is the favorite, a clear contender for the throne. South Florida, on the other hand, is not. The Bulls saw their 2010 bar get lowered for them last Saturday in a stunningly inept home loss to Syracuse, 13-9. While the preseason expectations were modest in Skip Holtz's debut in Tampa, bowing to the Orange means the program could end up being closer to the conference basement than the penthouse this year. The Mountaineers came out of their bye week looking as crisp and sharp as they've been all season, jumping all over visiting UNLV in a 49-10 spanking that was over by the end of the first quarter. West Virginia is healthy and confident, having only lost to No. 9 LSU, 20-14, in Baton Rouge.
Why South Florida Might Win: Until QB B.J. Daniels and the offense can locate some consistency, the Bulls are going to lean heavily on a defense that's been air-tight in all but the Florida game. In the other four games combined, South Florida has only allowed a total of 42 points, defending the pass particularly well. It's produced 11 sacks in the last two games alone, getting pressure from every level, including DE Craig Marshall, LB Sam Barrington, and S Jon Lejiste. The Bulls are one of those few Big East schools with the speed to match West Virginia's athletes.
Why West Virginia Might Win: The Mountaineers have the weapons to score plenty of points on Thursday night. Against South Florida, however, 20 might be all that's needed to get to 5-1. The Bulls have struggled in a big way to adapt to more of a pass-first offense, ranking next to last in the league in total offense. Solving those problems won't get any easier against a West Virginia D that's No. 7 nationally in total and scoring defense. The way this group is performing, QB Geno Smith and RB Noel Devine might need just a couple of game-changing plays to put this one out of reach for the Bulls.
What To Watch Out For: Smith just keeps getting better in his first year as the starter under center, raising the excitement level about his next two seasons in Morgantown. An obvious upgrade over Jarrett Brown from a year ago, he's thrown 12 touchdown passes to only two picks and has shown good footwork in and out of the pocket. He also has tremendous poise for such a young player, spreading the ball around to receivers Tavon Austin, Jock Sanders, Steadman Bailey, and Bradley Starks, who caught three touchdown passes in his return from injuries.
What Will Happen: Traveling to Morgantown on Thursday night to face surging West Virginia is the last thing South Florida needs these days. The Bulls will provide little resistance to a Mountaineer squad flush with playmakers on offense and stoppers on defense. Once the ‘Neers build a double-digit cushion, any chance for a comeback will be over.
CFN Prediction:West Virginia 31 … South Florida 19 … Line: West Virginia -10.5
Must See Rating: Jackass 3D – 5 … The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town -1 … 3
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Cincinnati (2-3) at Louisville (3-2) Oct. 15, 8:00 ET, ESPN

Here's The Deal … The 51st meeting for the Keg of Nails is going to have a few more storylines beyond the garden variety rivalry grist. Both schools will enter the game with similar personas, teams with first-year coaches looking to parlay Week 5 blowouts into second half of the season momentum. A year after going 4-8 and firing Steve Kragthorpe, Louisville has played well for Charlie Strong, dismantling Memphis, 56-0. Forgetting for a moment that the victims were from the Sun Belt and Conference USA, back-to-back wins have given the Cardinals confidence boost, which is beginning to become contagious. Cincinnati blew out Miami (OH), 45-3, snapping a two-game losing streak and stopping the bleeding. Are the Bearcats starting to buy into Butch Jones' system or were they just fortunate to be hosting an average MAC team? This Friday's trip to the Commonwealth will go a long way to answering that question.
Why Cincinnati Might Win: The Cardinals have had some defensive holes exposed in the early going that the Bearcats will look to exploit. Ever since the fourth quarter of the Oklahoma game, the light has started to go on for the Cincy offense, which still has plenty of the ingredients left over from the consecutive Big East championship teams. Zach Collaros is quietly having an excellent year, throwing a dozen touchdowns to only one pick, and a healthy Isaiah Pead has rushed for 366 yards over the last two games. The receiving tandem of Armon Binns and DJ Woods is going to be a handful for a Louisville secondary comprised of undersized corners.
Why Louisville Might Win: There aren't many offensive coordinators who've done a better job in the first half of the year than Louisville's Mike Sanford. He didn't inherit a treasure chest of talent, yet the Cards have been balanced and lead the Big East in total offense. The backfield duo of QB Adam Froman and RB Bilal Powell has been a revelation in the new attack. With the help of JUCO transfer WR Josh Bellamy, Froman looks like a different player from a year ago, and Powell is No. 8 in the country in rushing. Against a Cincinnati defense that's pulling up the conference rear in pass defense, Froman is capable of remaining in the zone this week.
What To Watch Out For: Cincinnati has yielded 19 sacks, more than all but five schools in the country. Can they plug the holes up front in time for this week's game? Louisville has started bringing the heat under Strong, collecting 18 sacks over the last four games. DE Rodney Gnat leads the way with six of them, but LB Daniel Brown has also been active in what's become a total team effort. If the Cardinals can disrupt Collaros' rhythm, they have a real good shot of slowing down the Cincy passing attack.
What Will Happen: In an underrated Week 6 game, someone is getting out of Papa John's with a head of steam and renewed postseason hopes. This is a huge opportunity for Strong and his staff to show the nation what kind of progress they've been making. The Cards will use a big night on the ground from Powell and Victor Anderson to offset the Cincinnati playmakers and move two games above .500 at the halfway point.
CFN Prediction: Louisville 28 … Cincinnati 24 … Line: Cincinnati -2.5
Must See Rating: Jackass 3D – 5 … The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town -1 … 3
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Pittsburgh (2-3) at Syracuse (4-1)Oct. 16, 12:00 ET, ESPN3.com

Here's The Deal … No, it's not a misprint. Pittsburgh is the one below .500 and Syracuse is off to a 4-1 start. Strange times in the Big East. The Orange is coming off a landmark road victory over South Florida, altering the notion that its best start in more than a decade was based solely on a soft schedule. The culture of losing slowly changing in Upstate New York, Doug Marrone has a chance to put his rebuilding plan into hyperdrive with another league victory this weekend. The Panthers, the league's biggest disappointment of the first half, continued to have problems with better teams, losing in South Bend, 23-17. Still, despite all of the problems Pitt is facing, it has yet to play a conference game, making this week's trip to the Carrier Dome a chance to create a fresh start to the 2010 season.
Why Pittsburgh Might Win: With rare exceptions in the first half of the year, the Panthers have played well on defense, even after injuries struck the front seven. With star DE Greg Romeus out, Jabaal Sheard, Chas Alecxih, and Brandon Lindsey have each stepped up their games, combining for all 13 of the team's sacks. Plus, the Orange running game, the focal point of the offense, is going to be tested against a Pitt unit that ranks No. 13 in the country and is yielding less than three yards per carry. If RB Delone Carter can't find daylight, it'll put undue pressure on young QB Ryan Nassib to deliver in third-and-long.
Why Syracuse State Might Win: The team's fast start has clearly been fueled by a defense that's one bad half in Seattle away from being near flawless in the first five games. The Orange just got done holding South Florida to three offensive points and 219 yards in front of its home crowd. Led by an active group of linebackers and defensive backs, Syracuse shortens the field for opponents and prevents yards after contact. With few individual stars, everyone contributes, including S Max Suter, whose three stops for loss earned him Big East Defensive Player of the Week honors. This aggressive group figures to add to the woes of QB Tino Sunseri, who's adapting slowly to life as a starter.
What To Watch Out For: Syracuse won't be lulled into a false sense of security. It knows that Pittsburgh can still run the ball successfully with Dion Lewis and Ray Graham. While Lewis has struggled with injuries, he's healthy enough to play, and Graham has been one of the nation's best reserves in the early going, running for 536 yards and five scores. On a quick surface, both players are capable of softening the Orange with sprints into the secondary.
What Will Happen: Desperation does funny things to teams. Pitt is dripping with it. Syracuse will be stoked for this one, and is more than capable of winning it. The Panthers, however, have their backs against the proverbial wall and will play accordingly. While Sunseri will continue to struggle, he'll get plenty of help from his two runners, who'll gut out 150 yards and the go-ahead score late in the game.
CFN Prediction: Pittsburgh 20 … Syracuse 17 … Line: Syracuse -1.5
Must See Rating: Jackass 3D – 5 … The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town -1 … 3
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Army (4-2) at Rutgers (3-2) Oct. 16, 2:00 ET, ESPN3.com

Here's The Deal … A week after losing a game it shouldn't have, Rutgers won one it wasn't supposed to. Despite all of the twists and turns to get to this spot, the Scarlet Knights are pretty much where they were supposed to be after five games. They made a nice recovery from the Tulane debacle, rallying to beat surging Connecticut, 27-24, with true freshman Chas Dodd filling in at quarterback for Tom Savage. Army enters this game with some momentum as well, paddling the same Green Wave team that Rutgers couldn't defeat, 41-23, in New Orleans. The Black Knights' magic number for a long-awaited postseason return is down to two, and with VMI up next, the trip to Piscataway is practically a clincher. Not since 1996 has the academy been invited to a bowl game.
Why Army Might Win: The Black Knights are dominating turnover margin, a key reason why they've been so successful in the early going. In fact, their tied with Oklahoma for the nation's top spot, recovering 11 fumbles and protecting the ball when they're on offense. In Dodd, Army will be facing an inexperienced player prone to making mistakes. DE Josh McNary and LB Stephen Anderson are the leaders of a front seven that's going to frustrate an awful Rutgers O-line. The staple on offense will continue to be the relentless ground game, which is led by the quick feet of QB Trent Steelman and punishing FB Jared Hassin.
Why Rutgers Might Win: It'll be strength vs. strength when Army looks to pound the ball against the nation's No. 10 run defense. The Scarlet Knights are especially tough at the point of attack, featuring an athletic collection of defenders that includes DT Scott Vallone, DE Alex Silvestro, and linebackers Antonio Lowery and Steve Beauharnais. If Rutgers can force the Black Knights into passing situations, they don't have the kind of attack that's capable of making in-game adjustments. You can run the ball on Army, as Temple showed two weeks ago. The Scarlet Knights will look to counter with beefy Joe Martinek and Mohamed Sanu taking direct snaps.
What To Watch Out For: Dodd has been an interesting character so far, a product of South Carolina with a penchant for making something out of nothing. While there's no quarterback controversy since Savage is hurt, it was kind of obvious how his presence seemed to light a spark under the Rutgers offense. Not only did he go 18-of-29 for 322 yards and two touchdowns, but he led his team to the game-tying and game-winning scores in the final five minutes.
What Will Happen: Although Rutgers hasn't quite turned the corner, it is headed in the right direction. Last Friday's win was paramount to the team's psyche going forward. After pitching a shutout in the second half against Connecticut, the Scarlet Knight defense will remain feisty this weekend, stalling Army and preserving a second straight hard-fought win.
CFN Prediction: Rutgers 27 … Army 17 … Line: Rutgers -7
Must See Rating: Jackass 3D – 5 … The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town -1 … 3
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G

2010 Big East Fearless Predictions

Week 6 ... Oct. 9 Games, Part 2

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

Big East Fearless Predictions 
- Oct. 2 | Sept. 25 | Sept. 18 | Sept. 11 | Sept. 4 

- More College Football Picks (and NFL, too) 
 
- Oct. 9 (Syracuse-USF) 

Pittsburgh (2-2) at Notre Dame (2-3) Oct. 9, 3:30 ET, NBC

Here's The Deal … Pitt and Notre Dame meet for the 66th time in a pivotal, fork-in-the-road type game for both schools. The Panthers have been a big disappointment out of the Big East, taking care of business against pushovers, but losing their marquee match ups with Utah and Miami. While it took a while to get going, they finally shook Florida International last Saturday with a 28-point outburst. Pitt's won its last two visits to South Bend, but lost its last two against Brian Kelly, including a 45-44 heartbreaker last December. The Irish is in a similar predicament as the Panthers, off to a rough start and needing a quality win to get the team pointed in the right direction. It helped morale immensely to jump all over Boston College on the road and coast to a 31-13 victory. With the toughest part of the schedule in the rear view mirror, Notre Dame has a chance to go on a bit of a run.
Why Pittsburgh Might Win: During its three-game losing streak, Notre Dame labored on defense, specifically to stop the run. The Panthers have learned that with or without RB Dion Lewis, they're capable of grinding it out effectively. Lewis is the starter, but if an ailing shoulder keeps him on the shelf, Pitt has no worries about handing the load to Ray Graham. The nation's third-leading rusher, he erupted for 277 yards and three scores on 29 carries last weekend. If he continues to run with tenacity and explosiveness, it's going to assist the development of QB Tino Sunseri, who's coming off his surest effort of the year and has big targets in Jonathan Baldwin and Mike Shanahan.
Why Notre Dame State Might Win: The Irish is gradually adapting to Kelly's system and has the weapons to solve a Pitt defense that's been hampered by injuries. The passing game is the calling card, evolving around QB Dayne Crist and an exciting corps of receivers headed by WR Michael Floyd and TE Kyle Rudolph. On the ground, Armando Allen is a durable veteran, who can pick up the tough yards and keep defenses honest. Maybe it was a temporary flash of brilliance, but the Notre Dame defense is coming off its best game of the year, getting 11 tackles for loss and holding Boston College to five yards rushing.
What To Watch Out For: So how about that Irish D? Yeah, Boston College is a mess, but sometimes all it takes is a little momentum to get things moving in the right direction. If nothing else, the linebackers have fantastic upside and the ability to make plays all over the field. Not only is Manti Te'o fast becoming a household name, but sophomore Carlo Calabrese and freshman Prince Shembo are making their presence felt as well.
What Will Happen: While there'll still be issues in South Bend, Saturday night's rout may have been a turning point for Notre Dame. It's always uplifting to win on the road and get unexpected support from the defense. A visit from Pittsburgh brings a different challenge, but the blueprint is the same—stop the run and make the young quarterback beat you. Crist and the receivers will take care of the rest, leading the Irish to a hard-fought win.
CFN Prediction: Notre Dame 28 … Pittsburgh 21 … Line: Notre Dame -6
Must See Rating: Britney on Glee -5 … Life As We Know It - 1 … 3
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UNLV (1-4) at West Virginia (3-1) Oct. 9, 3:30 ET, ESPN3.com

Here's The Deal … A week off gave West Virginia some time to reflect on where it stands at this juncture of the season. One month in, the Mountaineers appear to be the Big East favorite, but it's sort of by default. The rest of the league has been deplorable, and if not for a late rally at Marshall, they'd be climbing out of a 2-2 hole. They did put a scare into LSU in Baton Rouge, but a 20-14 loss left an empty feel heading into the break. UNLV is clearly taking its lumps in coach Bobby Hauck's debut season in Las Vegas, suffering four losses by at least 18 points. As if things can't anyone tougher for the Rebels, they now have to travel clear across the country to Morgantown a week after losing to rival Nevada for a sixth year in-a-row.
Why UNLV Might Win: Although it hasn't quite been an eruption, the Rebel offense has shown signs of life in the last two games, producing 71 points against New Mexico and Nevada. Versatile QB Omar Clayton brings a run-pass option to the offense, and receivers Phillip Payne and Michael Johnson will challenge a West Virginia secondary that's been prone to giving up the long ball. UNLV has also done a nice job of protecting the ball, turning it over only six times in the first five games.
Why West Virginia Might Win: The Mountaineer offense has been a little sluggish in the early going, but that ends this weekend. The big issue in Las Vegas has been the D, which West Virginia intends to exploit for 60 minutes. Well-rested and itching to get on track, it'll throw a mix of Geno Smith's passing and the running of Noel Devine at a UNLV defense that tackles poorly and has had a hard time generating a consistent pass rush. On the flip side, the ‘neers lead the Big East in total defense and are yielding just 14 points a game, so the Rebs will need to bring their "A" game to Milan-Puskar in order to score many points this weekend .
What To Watch Out For: You can bank on Clayton enduring a lot of pressure in and out of the pocket on Saturday. His line has stumbled in pass protection and the Mountaineers have the speed and tenacity to make his life miserable. If Scooter Berry and Chris Neild have any problems getting penetration up front, coordinator Jeff Casteel won't hesitate to turn loose one his athletic linebackers, like JT Thomas or Najee Goode.
What Will Happen: The Mountaineers have some pent up frustration from the LSU loss that it'll vent in the direction of UNLV. This is a rough spot for the Rebels, which don't have the personnel on defense to contain all of West Virginia's playmakers. Plus, falling behind will be a recipe for disaster against a defense that likes to pin its ears back and get after the man with the ball. The ‘neers will jump out early and end any mystery about the outcome by shortly after halftime.
CFN Prediction: West Virginia 38 … UNLV 13 … Line: West Virginia -27.5
Must See Rating: Britney on Glee -5 … Life As We Know It - 1 … 1.5
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Miami University (3-2) at Cincinnati (1-3) Oct. 9, 7:00 ET

Here's The Deal … For two-time defending Big East champ Cincinnati, September was an unmitigated disaster, its worst four-game start since 2006. During the off week, head coach Butch Jones tried to keep his Bearcats positive, stressing how hard they fought toward the end of a 31-29 loss to Oklahoma. With plenty left to play for over the next couple of months, Cincy can start building a little head of steam by owning the Victory Bell for a fifth year in-a-row. Miami (OH) continued to make tangible progress in Mike Haywood's second season at the school. A year after going 1-11, the RedHawks have already won three games, including both MAC contests. Their only two losses have come against Florida and Missouri, and an upset of a favored rival this weekend would really light the fuse beneath the program's resurgence.
Why Miami University Might Win: It's a good thing for the RedHawks that Cincy is having all kinds of problems defending the pass because they'll spend much of the night trying to navigate the airways. The Bearcats have been carved up for 10 touchdown passes, which should bring a smile to the face of Miami QB Zac Dysert. He's been accurate in his second season as the starter, peaking with a three-touchdown effort against Colorado State. His veteran corps of receivers is led by senior Armand Robinson, who's already caught 38 passes for 410 yards and three touchdowns.
Why Cincinnati Might Win: It's taken longer than anyone would like, but there are hints that the Bearcat offense is about to break through. Facing average defensive talent for the first time in weeks, they'll unleash QB Zach Collaros, who's quietly excelled through difficult circumstances. He's accounted for 11 touchdowns and just one pick, helping turn DJ Woods into one of the Big East's better playmaking receivers. Dysert will have to be on his game for the RedHawks to have any shot at the upset. Not only is Miami averaging just 2.3 yards a carry, but Cincinnati has been stout against the run, yielding just 95 yards a game.
What To Watch Out For: Although individual efforts tend to get lost when a team is losing, Cincinnati DE Dan Giordano has not overlooked by the new staff. One of the shining young defensive stars for the Bearcats, he's used his quickness and upper body strength to notch a tackle for loss in all but one game. He figures to be a handful for a Miami offensive line having problems keeping the other team out of the backfield.
What Will Happen: Miami is headed in the right direction, but the Victory Bell remains off limits. Cincinnati will use a flawed opponent to gain a little traction, getting three touchdowns and an MVP type effort out of Collaros. While the Bearcat D has been sloppy, it only has to be concerned with the RedHawk passing game this weekend.
CFN Prediction: Cincinnati 37 … Miami University 17 … Line: Cincinnati -17
Must See Rating: Britney on Glee -5 … Life As We Know It - 1 … 2
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- Oct. 9 (Syracuse-USF)