Big East Fearless Predictions - Week 2
Posted Sep 7, 2006

Preview and predictions for the week two Independent games

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

Big East Week Two Fearless Predictions, Part 2

Big East Game of the Week

Pitt (1-0) at Cincinnati (1-0)  8 pm ET ESPN2 Friday, September 9th                
Why to watch: Pittsburgh is coming off the biggest win of the Dave Wannstedt era, a surprisingly easy 38-13 thumping of Virginia that was light years better than the way team performed at any time in 2005.  The Panthers were dominant at the point of attack and noticeably faster than a year ago, but if they can’t win on the road, the goodwill from the strong start will be gone by Saturday morning.  Cincinnati is also feeling pretty good about itself after pitching a shutout for the first time in 11 years against an above average, veteran Eastern Kentucky offense.  The Bearcats, which were mere kittens last fall, are all grown up on defense, and it showed on Thursday night. 
Why Pittsburgh might win: The Panther defense held Virginia to just 211 yards on Saturday and was air tight in pass defense.  That’s bad news for Cincinnati, which will play both Dustin Grutza and Nick Davila behind center because neither has been good enough to pull away from the other.  Tyler Palko threw three touchdown passes last weekend and gives Pitt a huge advantage over UC’s quarterbacks.
Why Cincinnati might win: In Wannstedt’s debut season, Pittsburgh was 0-4 in short weeks and 0-5 away from Heinz Field.  Gulp.  The Panthers first road trip of 2006 will be on a Friday night.  Cincinnati picked off three passes last week, and has the defensive speed to stop a Pitt offense that lacks balance and a consistent running game.
Who to watch: The small, quick Panther linebacking corps is much more than just Butkus Award candidate H.B. Blades.  Clint Session began his senior year by parlaying nine tackles, two tackles for loss and a 78-yard interception return for a score into Big East Defensive Player of the Week honors.
What will happen: A better protected Palko finally has depth at receiver and looks poised for a rebound season.  He’ll be the difference in a game that’s dominated by turnovers and the defenses.
CFN Prediction
Pitt 27 ... Cincinnati 17 ... Line: Pitt -8
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Fashion House) ... 2.5 

Illinois (1-0) at Rutgers (1-0)  12 pm ET ESPN2 Saturday, September 9th
Why to watch: Either Illinois or Rutgers is going to begin the season 2-0, a potentially monumental step for a pair of programs searching for national respect.  Last week, the Scarlet Knights toughed out a 21-16 win over North Carolina behind a 201-yard, three-touchdown day from RB Ray Rice and a couple of timely picks from CB Manny Collins.  With Ohio and Howard next on the schedule, Greg Schiano’s crew can seriously start thinking about its first 4-0 start in a quarter century, but it has to play a full 60 minutes after collapsing late last year in a stunning 33-30 overtime loss to the Illini.  Illinois’ 42-17 win over Eastern Illinois was reminiscent of last year’s blowout of Florida A&M, but what does it really mean? This game will be a better indicator of the team’s progress and how well equipped it’ll be to deal with Iowa and Michigan State in a few weeks.  Tim Brasic has a firm grip on the starting quarterback job, however, franchise true freshman QB Juice Williams will continue getting pertinent reps.    
Why Illinois might win: The Illini are determined to run the ball better in 2006, and it showed in the opener.  Behind an improved offensive line, Pierre Thomas, EB Halsey and Rashard Mendenhall combined for 283 yards and five scores on just 36 carries.  An undersized Rutgers front was moved around by North Carolina, and Illinois has the offensive line to deliver similar results.   
Why Rutgers might win: While the Illinois offense showed signs of life in the opener, the young defense remains a bolded question mark.  The Illini gave up big plays to Eastern Illinois, and against a balanced and, at times, explosive Knights’ offense, they’ll struggle to stop both the run and the pass.  With so much attention justifiably going to the running attack, this is the perfect setting for sophomore QB Mike Teel to have a breakthrough game.    
Who to watch: North Carolina was committed to stopping FB Brian Leonard last week, and Rice made the Heels pay for that tactical error.  He’s an ideal lightning to Leonard’s thunder, and the kind of complement in the backfield that’s going to allow Teel time to develop as the starter while making the Knights difficult to defense.   
What will happen: It’s hard to believe, but last week’s win in Chapel Hill was Rutgers’ most profound road victory since beating Michigan State in East Lansing 15 years ago.  Against an Illini team that’s still trying to find its way under Zook, the Knights aren’t about to fumble that momentum.  Now that Rice is on everyone’s radar, Leonard and TE Clark Harris will be the statistical stars this weekend.   
CFN Prediction
: Rutgers 38 ... Illinois 21
... Line: Rutgers -11.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Fashion House) ... 2.5 

Louisville (1-0) at Temple (0-1)  12 pm ET GamePlan Saturday, September 9th    
Why to watch: Louisville’s 59-28 thrashing of Kentucky Sunday night turned bittersweet when Michael Bush broke his right leg early in the third quarter.  No doubt a big back of his caliber will be missed, but it’s a testament to the depth of talent Bobby Petrino has been able to amass that Kolby Smith and George Stripling are waiting in the on-deck circle to combine to be just as productive. How they progress will go a long way in the Big East title chase, and maybe the national title hunt. Both could start just about anywhere, so don’t count on the offensive play calling—or Louisville’s expectations—to change with new personnel.  Somewhat overshadowed by Bush’s departure was the return from knee surgery of QB Brian Brohm, who looked crisp completing 19-of-31 passes for 254 yards and a score.  A 9-3 overtime loss to Buffalo showed just how long a road first-year head coach Al Golden has ahead of him at Temple.  He used 11 true freshman in the opener, which will sting in September, yet pay off by November. 
Why Louisville might win: You’d be hard-pressed to find a wider gap in talent and production among I-A programs than the one that exists between the Cards and the Owls.  Louisville is a scoring machine fueled by a bunch of future NFL players, while Temple is extremely young and managed just 183 yards and three points against bottom-feeding Buffalo. Two early touchdowns will put this out of reach.

Why Temple might win
: For Louisville, the trip to Philadelphia is the proverbial sandwich game squeezed between an emotional win over rival Kentucky and a ballyhooed visit from Miami next Saturday.  If it’s ever going to look past an opponent, this would be the week.  Led by true freshman LB Junior Galette, Temple is a fast group on defense that had ten tackles for loss a week ago. 
Who to watch
: For good reason, all eyes will be on Smith and Stripling as their roles increase dramatically in Bush’s absence.  Smith is a 215-pound slasher with great vision and a resume that includes over 1,400 yards of total offense and 12 touchdowns.  Stripling is a home run hitter, who lit up Kentucky Sunday night and sports a career average of more than eight yards a carry.
What will happen: Louisville would have to lose a lot more than one starter for this game to be competitive beyond the first quarter.  A pivotal date with the ‘Canes is on the horizon, so the next generation of Cardinal stars will be on display earlier than usual.
FN Prediction: Louisville 55 ... Temple 10 ... Line: Louisville -39
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Fashion House) ... 1.5 

Big East Week Two Fearless Predictions, Part 2