2010 Big East Fearless Picks - Nov 27 WV-Pitt
West Virginia QB Geno Smith
West Virginia QB Geno Smith
Posted Nov 24, 2010

Fearless Predictions for every Big East Game, Nov. 27

2010 Big East Fearless Predictions

Week 13 ... Nov. 26 Games

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

Big East Fearless Predictions 
- Nov. 20 | Nov. 13 | Nov. 6 | Oct. 30 | Oct. 23 | Oct. 16 | Oct. 9
- Oct. 2 | Sept. 25 | Sept. 18 | Sept. 11 | Sept. 4 

- Nov. 27, Part 2 (Connecticut-Cincinnati) 

CFN Big East Predictions: SU: 46-14   ATS: 26-22-3 


West Virginia (7-3) at Pittsburgh (6-4) Nov. 26, 12:00 ET, ABC

Here's The Deal … As expected before the season began, the 103rd edition of the Backyard Brawl will have major implications in the Big East title hunt. Pittsburgh leads the way by a game, but West Virginia and Connecticut are lurking just behind in second place. While the hatred is already built into this rivalry, it takes on more national appeal when the outcome will impact a spot in a BCS bowl game. The Panthers are coming off a crucial escape of South Florida in Tampa, winning 17-10 to remain in first place. It wasn't their prettiest effort of the season, but it was plenty effective, handing the program its fourth victory over the last five games. Ironically, the Mountaineers survived a similar game a week ago, holding off Louisville by an identical 17-10 score. Riding the rollercoaster all year, they're gaining momentum at the right time, winning the last games to stay relevant in the title chase.
Why West Virginia Might Win: Jeff Casteel has once again done a terrific job with the Mountaineer defense, which ranks No. 4 nationally in both total D and scoring D. It's a veteran unit that has all-star talent at every level. West Virginia has yielded just two touchdown passes over the last seven games and gets steady pressure from DE Julian Miller and pass rush specialist Bruce Irvin, who has a team-high 10 sacks. Since the Panther passing game has been inconsistent of late, Casteel will feel comfortable pressing up safeties Terrence Garvin, Robert Sands, and Sidney Glover in order to stop Dion Lewis and Ray Graham on the ground.
Why Pittsburgh Might Win: Just like this week's visitor, the Panthers are going to put their fate in the hands of the defense. They're only allowing 302 yards and 19 points a game, numbers that aren't likely to be threatened by the struggling West Virginia offense. The Mountaineers have been inconsistent throughout the year, especially on third downs and in the red zone. Pitt has a dynamite bookend in Jabaal Sheard and Brandon Lindsey, and a pair of terrific open field tacklers in LB Max Gruder and S Dom DeCicco. The West Virginia offensive line has been unusually ordinary in 2010, struggling to protect the quarterback or open holes for RB Noel Devine.
What To Watch Out For: The battle of the sophomore quarterbacks will be vital, pitting West Virginia's Geno Smith versus Pitt's Tino Sunseri. Both have shown flashes of brilliance—and youth—throughout their first year as a starter. Yet, with neither hurler likely to produce many touchdowns, the respective placekickers might have even greater importance. Mountaineer junior Tyler Bitancourt is 10-of-14 on field goal tries, while Panther senior Dan Hutchins is 15-of-21.
What Will Happen: The moniker for this rivalry will never be more accurate than it is this Friday. For 60 minutes, the Panthers and the Mountaineers are going to brawl in a snot-knocking defensive struggle dominated by special teams. In a trend that'll continue at Heinz Field, West Virginia has struggled to score outside Morgantown, averaging only 16 points a game. Pitt will grind out yards on the ground with Lewis and Graham, setting up Hutchins to be the game's offensive hero.
CFN Prediction: Pittsburgh 24 … West Virginia 19 … Line: Pitt -2.5
Must See Rating: True Grit – 5 … Dennis Miller: The Big Speech -1 … 4
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Louisville (5-6) at Rutgers (4-6) Nov. 26, 11:00 ET, ESPN2

Here's The Deal … There's room for more bowl-eligible teams out of the Big East, which is going to add a little extra meaning to an otherwise vanilla game between Louisville and Rutgers. For a Cardinal team that's missed the last three postseasons, this regular season finale is especially important. While 6-6 isn't cause for a celebration on most campuses, playing an additional game and getting 15 more practices would represent a giant step forward in Charlie Strong's first season on the sidelines. In Piscataway, however, the Scarlet Knights are taking in significant water and are in danger of sinking before reaching the finish line. Losers of four straight since the emotional win over Army on Oct. 16, Rutgers imploded over the weekend, losing to struggling Cincinnati, 69-38. The program hasn't missed the postseason since 2004, but that's about to happen unless it wins the final two games.
Why Louisville Might Win: Strong's attacking defense is the last thing the Scarlet Knights want to see at this stage of the season. It brings the heat liberally, with Rodney Gnat coming off the edge and linebackers Daniel Brown and Brandon Heath blitzing from the second level. The Cardinals are No. 11 nationally in total defense and give up 19 points a game, a major concern for a Rutgers O-line that's last in the country in sacks allowed. After watching the film of Cincy carving up the Knight defense for 661 yards, Louisville has to like its chances of springing RB Bilal Powell, who's hoping to make it back from a knee injury.
Why Rutgers Might Win: The Scarlet Knights simply can't be as bad as they were over the weekend, especially on defense. Prior to the Cincinnati trip, they were playing well on D, creating turnovers and playing well at the point of attack behind DE Alex Silvestro and LB Antonio Lowery. The Cardinals aren't going to resemble the Bearcats on offense, especially since Powell and QB Adam Froman were injured. The silver lining over the weekend is that Rutgers produced a season-high 38 points, getting five touchdown passes and four touchdown catches from Mark Harrison.
What To Watch Out For: Although things don't look bright these days for Rutgers, the program is developing a nice collection of young playmakers. Harrison is only in his second year, and has caught eight touchdown passes. QB Chas Dodd is a rookie, as is RB Jeremy Deering, who ran for 166 yards two weeks ago. The Louisville defense is solid, but it'll also have to be well-conditioned in order to keep up with all of those fresh legs in the Scarlet Knight huddle.
What Will Happen: Rutgers is not as bad as it played last weekend, but it's also not very good right now. While Louisville has issues as well, it also has a gigantic carrot in front of it. One win over a fading opponent is all that separates the Cardinals from a likely postseason berth. They'll create constant havoc on defense, turning over the Scarlet Knights and setting up the offense on a much-needed short field.
CFN Prediction: Louisville 24 … Rutgers 20 … Line: Louisville -3
Must See Rating: True Grit – 5 … Dennis Miller: The Big Speech -1 … 2.5
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- Nov. 27, Part 2 (Connecticut-Cincinnati)