2010 Big East Fearless Picks - Oct 23, USF-UC
Cincinnati WR Amon Binns
Cincinnati WR Amon Binns
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 20, 2010


Fearless Predictions for every Big East game, Oct. 23

2010 Big East Fearless Predictions

Week 8 ... Oct. 23 Games

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

Big East Fearless Predictions 
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CFN Big East Predictions: SU: 37-6   ATS: 19-13-2 

GAME OF THE WEEK

South Florida (3-3) at Cincinnati (3-3) Oct. 22, 8:00 ET, ESPN2

Here's The Deal … In just the nick of time, Cincinnati is on the verge of rescuing a season that was on the brink of disaster at the outset of the month. At 1-3, the Bearcats had played horribly, getting embarrassed by Fresno State and NC State. However, at the end of the Oklahoma loss, they showed no quit, battling to within two points of the Sooners. It's carried over to wins versus Miami University and Louisville last Friday night. With back-to-back home games upcoming, the program has a chance to thrust itself back into the Big East mix. South Florida is headed in the exact opposite direction. The Bulls have been feeble in their first two league games, failing to produce an offensive touchdown in losses to Syracuse and West Virginia. If things don't turn around immediately, the school's streak of five consecutive bowl appearances will be over.
Why South Florida Might Win: The one constant in Tampa has been the play of the defense, which ranks in the top 20 in sacks, pass, scoring, and total D. The Bulls are particularly solid in the front seven, holding the point of attack and keeping the ball in front of them. Terrell McClain and Craig Marshall provide an inside-outside threat up front, and linebackers DeDe Lattimore, Jacquian Williams, and Sam Barrington help form a rugged run-stopping trio. If South Florida has any hope of igniting the offense, this might be the place to do it. Cincinnati has the Big East's worst defense, and just got done being gashed for 209 yards by Louisville RB Bilal Powell.
Why Cincinnati Might Win: It's taken almost half a season, but the Bearcat offense is finally beginning to click for first-year head coach Butch Jones. QB Zach Collaros has quietly been heroic, leading the team to 80 points in the last two games, while throwing 17 touchdown passes to just three picks so far this year. Plus, he's surrounded by all kinds of next-level talent, such as RB Isaiah Pead and receivers Armon Binns and DJ Woods. The wideouts have combined for 13 touchdown receptions, five from Binns in the last two games alone. Everyone is benefiting from an improving line that's given up just one sack in the last two games.
What To Watch Out For: After looking like South Florida's sure-fire quarterback of the future in 2009, sophomore B.J. Daniels has tested that notion so far this year. He has been horrible in the new system, ground zero for the Bulls' offensive problems. Take out the Stony Brook game, and he's thrown just two touchdown passes to 10 interceptions, while not making many big plays with his feet. His confidence shaken and his throws erratic, you have to wonder if Skip Holtz will consider turning to freshman walk-on Bobby Eveld if the situation doesn't improve.
What Will Happen: The South Florida D can keep the team in this game for only so long before Cincinnati starts to pull away for good. The gap between the two offenses is immense, and growing wider with each passing week. Once Collaros and his supporting cast get going, they'll build an insurmountable lead that Daniels and the Bulls won't have any chance to make up.
CFN Prediction: Cincinnati 28 … South Florida 16 … Line: Cincinnati -7.5
Must See Rating: Due Date – 5 … Tracy Morgan: Black and Blue -1 … X
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Syracuse (4-2) at West Virginia (5-1) Oct. 23, 12:00 ET, ESPN2

Here's The Deal … West Virginia is looking to maintain its position as the pace-setter in the Big East race. The only league member ranked in the initial BCS rankings, the Mountaineers opened the conference schedule by shutting down South Florida in front of a national audience last Thursday night, 20-6. This is the last game of a three-week homestand before the program heads back on the road a week from Friday. Syracuse's flirtation with the top half of the league was short-lived, getting crushed at home by Pitt a week after stunning the Bulls at Raymond James Stadium. Still, the Orange has made progress under Doug Marrone, and believes it can manufacture the seven wins needed for bowl eligibility. At a minimum, it'll need to play much better in Morgantown in order to shed the memory of last weekend's game.
Why Syracuse Might Win: Despite all of the good athletes at its disposal, the West Virginia offense hasn't been especially explosive this fall. The Mountaineers are only averaging 28 points a game, which has been exaggerated by blowouts of UNLV and Coastal Carolina. The Orange will look to keep them sputtering with a defense that had been playing very well before last Saturday. Syracuse can be a handful at the point of attack, particularly for a West Virginia O-line that's underachieved. Not only does DE Chandler Jones have good get-off, but linebackers Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue, and CB Mike Holmes will all press the action.
Why West Virginia Might Win: The Mountaineer offense may be a little sluggish, but the defense has picked up the slack. It ranks third nationally, yielding just 12 points a game, and has given up one offensive touchdown in the last 11 quarters. Syracuse doesn't have the playmakers, especially in the passing game, to put a dent in this group. West Virginia is getting ample support from every level, including up front pressure from Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller and a bunch of big plays from CB Keith Tandy and the ball-hawking secondary. It's a fast and experienced unit that'll stack the box to stop RB Delone Carter and force QB Ryan Nassib to beat it.
What To Watch Out For: While West Virginia has survived without Noel Devine being at full strength of late, it's going to need him to perk up in the second half of the year. As QB Geno Smith gradually evolves into the star of this offense, Devine has taken more of a secondary role, rushing for just 150 yards over the last three games. If the Mountaineers can get No. 7 back on track, his rushing and Smith's throwing will provide a much-needed boost to the attack.
What Will Happen: The Mountaineer offense will gradually improve, but it won't have to be explosive to win this game. A couple of touchdown passes out of Smith are all that'll be needed. The defense will continue to perform at a high level, forcing Syracuse into third-and-long holes that Nassib won't be able to dig out of on his own.
CFN Prediction: West Virginia 30 … Syracuse 10 … Line: WVU -14
Must See Rating: Due Date – 5 … Tracy Morgan: Black and Blue -1 … 2.5
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Rutgers (4-2) at Pittsburgh (3-3) Oct. 23, 12:00 ET, ESPN3.com

Here's The Deal … Everyone in the Rutgers family is going to play this game with a very heavy heart. Overshadowing last weekend's pivotal comeback win over Army in overtime was a serious injury that left junior DT Eric LeGrand paralyzed from the neck down. The Scarlet Knights will be playing this game with their bodies in Western Pennsylvania and their minds back home at Hackensack University Medical Center. Pittsburgh is coming off its most impressive effort of the first half, routing surging Syracuse, 45-14, in the Carrier Dome. Is it the start of a new season for the Panthers or just a blip on the radar? In a wide-open Big East race that's just begun, they get a chance to start answering that question on Saturday afternoon.
Why Rutgers Might Win: The Scarlet Knights continue to play stingy defense, a trademark under Greg Schiano. Fast and physical, especially in the front seven, they've allowed only 15 points a game and now more than 24 on any one weekend. While QB Tino Sunseri and the rest of the Pitt offense were tremendous in Upstate New York, they've hardly been consistent this year. Rutgers will force the issue, moving linebackers Antonio Lowery and Steve Beauharnais closer to the line to support linemen Alex Silvestro and Scott Vallone, and make Sunseri have to bring it in consecutive games. The interior of the Panther line is going to struggle with this group of Knights.
Why Pittsburgh Might Win: With the passing game coming off its best effort since 2009, running lanes should start opening up a little for Dion Lewis and Ray Graham. The Scarlet Knights are going to face match up problems with Panther receivers Jon Baldwin and Mike Shanahan, who are both 6-5. Pitt shouldn't have too many problems containing a Rutgers offense that's last nationally in sacks allowed and has been using rookie QB Chas Dodd. Dodd or Tom Savage, if he comes back from an injury, will spend much of the afternoon being flushed from the pocket by Jabaal Sheard and Brandon Lindsey on the outside and Chas Alecxih on the inside.
What To Watch Out For: Sunseri was the key for Pitt before the season began and he still is today. While the staff was thrilled by his efficiency last week, it'll really exhale if he can string back-to-back strong performances together. Baldwin and Shanahan are the focal points of the passing game, but also keep an eye on redshirt freshman, who's caught three balls in each of the last three games, including his first career touchdown last week.
What Will Happen: Even when it was winning games, Rutgers wasn't playing very well. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, feels as if it's turned the corner and is set to contend for a Big East championship. The Panthers will stifle an average Scarlet Knight offense, while getting just enough from the more balanced offense to nudge above .500 for the first time and end the cycle of following a win with a loss.
CFN Prediction: Pittsburgh 24 … Rutgers 16 … Line: Pitt -12.5
Must See Rating: Due Date – 5 … Tracy Morgan: Black and Blue -1 … 2.5
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Connecticut (3-3) at Louisville (3-3) Oct. 23, 2:00 ET, ESPNU

Here's The Deal … While Connecticut took a week off, Louisville took a step back. Arguably playing their biggest game since Bobby Petrino was still on campus, the Cardinals fell short on Friday night against Cincinnati, losing 35-27. It was especially painful because they held the lead in the fourth quarter and saw the game as a nationally-televised opportunity to showcase their progress under Charlie Strong. If they have any designs on bowl eligibility, winning this game has become an absolute must. The Huskies used their time off to get healthy and lick their wounds following a debilitating Friday night loss of their own at Rutgers. Inconsistency on both sides of the ball has plagued Connecticut, which has yet to win a game on the road or defeat a quality opponent.
Why Connecticut Might Win: In the battle between the Big East's top two rushers, the Huskies will present Jordan Todman, who's averaging 152 yards a game and 6.2 yards a carry. He figures to return to action well-rested and eager to face a Louisville defense that's last in the league against the run. Connecticut has the better units in the trenches, ranking in the top 10 nationally in both sacks and sacks allowed. The offensive front will provide daylight for Todman to run, while linemen Jesse Joseph and Trevardo Williams look to upset the timing and rhythm of Cardinal QB Adam Froman.
Why Louisville Might Win: The Cards' answer to Todman will be Bilal Powell, who is fourth nationally on the ground and averaging a whopping 7.8 yards a carry. He's become a true gamebreaker in his final season, going for more than 200 yards in each of the last two contests. His play has helped open things up for the passing game and Froman, who's formed a dangerous connection with former JUCO WR Josh Bellamy. Louisville has shown a propensity for getting after the quarterback as well, ranking No. 8 in the country behind the speed rushing of DE Rodney Gnat and the blitzing of speedy LB Daniel Brown.
What To Watch Out For: While the running backs will be the feature attraction in this game, the quarterbacks could eventually decide it. It doesn't take a defensive guru to figure out who both schools will be looking to stop, putting Froman and Connecticut's Cody Endres on the hot seat. Although neither has been particularly consistent this fall, both will get chances to make connections downfield, as defenses sell out to stop the run.
What Will Happen: Even though they don't face each other on the field, Todman vs. Powell figures to be one of Week 8's more underrated match ups. This is one of those games in which Connecticut is going to benefit from the extra week away from the game. Plus, you don't want to give Randy Edsall more time to prepare for an opponent. The Huskies have the better defensive personnel, which will stand out when the outcome hangs in the balance in the final 10 minutes.
CFN Prediction: Connecticut 28 … Louisville 24 … Line: Connecticut -2
Must See Rating: Due Date – 5 … Tracy Morgan: Black and Blue -1 … 2.5
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