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Big East Fearless Predictions, Week Three

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 14, 2006


West Virginia and Pat White get a big chance to make a national statement tonight against Maryland. The Big East also has a huge chance to make some noise when Louisville hosts Miami on Saturday. These and more with the Fearless Predictions for Week Three are up. Click on the Conferences below for your league.


Big East 
Cincinnati | Connecticut | Louisville | Pittsburgh | Rutgers | South Florida | Syracuse | West Virginia
Past Big East Predictions
Week One | Week Two

How'd we do so far? SU 14-0  ATS 6-3


Big East Week Three Fearless Predictions, Part 2

Big East Game of the Week

Miami (1-1) at Louisville (2-0), 3:30 EST, ABC, Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: Remember how much fun it was when these two met in Miami’s thrilling 41-38 win in 2004? This weekend’s game could be just as good, and it’s likely to turn out to be much more important. This is your classic high-powered offense meeting a head-knocking defense with storyline after storyline to make this a standout game on a day with several standout games.  With a win over a top-shelf program, Louisville immediately gets stamped as a viable contender for a national championship, and it also makes itself an even bigger target for West Virginia down the road. With a loss, Miami inexplicably slips below .500 and puts Larry Coker on double secret probation  For years, Louisville has had a pipeline to the Sunshine State with 22 Floridians, including chatty LB Nate Harris, on this year’s roster who’ll have a little something extra to prove.  Oh, and then there’s the Big East, the BCS red-headed stepchild.  This is the league’s best opportunity for national respect since it was gutted by the ACC three years ago, and it has to take advantage of the opportunity. Throw in victories by West Virginia and Pittsburgh over Maryland and Michigan State, respectively, and Big East fans could be dancing on Saturday night. A Miami would prove that it’s really a high-powered contender to get back in the national title chase.
Why Miami might win: This is, by far, the best defense Louisville will face all year.  It’s one thing to hang 50 on Kentucky and Temple, but it’s another thing entirely to score points on a Cane defense that lives for challenges like this. You’ve got to go the NFL to find a better secondary than a Cane group jammed with future pros.  If UL QB Brian Brohm can be neutralized, the Cards will turn to its stable of backs. That’s precisely when it’ll become evident that Michael Bush is on the shelf and show why he was such a difference maker.                
Why Louisville might win: Despite all the off-season tinkering, the Miami offense is still very much a work in progress and a liability if QB Kyle Wright doesn’t get protection. Against Florida State, the Canes managed just two yards rushing and ten points while failing to make the proper adjustments in the second half. It took a visit from Florida A&M last week for the offense to find itself.  If this game is played in the 30s, the Canes might not have the firepower to keep pace.
Who to watch: RB Tyrone Moss returned three weeks earlier than expected from an ACL tear to give an emotional boost to the Miami ground game last Saturday.  He had 64 yards and a touchdown on eight carries, and represents a physical, ball control option that’s been lacking since he went down last year.  Also, keep an eye on Art Carmody and Jon Peattie.  They’re two of the best kickers in the country and should play a key role late.
What will happen: We know all about Louisville’s skill position players, but do we know if that revamped left side of the line can protect Brohm’s blindside? Can a spotty secondary can contain Miami’s speed receivers? With its back against the wall, the Cane defense will keep the Cards from going wild or getting over the mythical hump.          
CFN Prediction: Miami 26 ... Louisville 24 ... Line: Louisville -4.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 5
      

Maryland (2-0) at West Virginia (2-0), 7:30 EST, ESPN, Thursday, September 14th
Why to watch: In front of a national television audience, the Terps and Mountaineers renew what’s become a pretty salty out-of-conference rivalry.  Maryland owned West Virginia during the first half of this decade, but the ‘eers have broken the hex with back-to-back wins and now need this win to start to earn more national respect. The games against name teams are few and far between, so this doesn’t just have to be a win over the Terps; it has to be impressive after cruising through Marshall and Eastern Washington with no resistance.  Maryland is more of a mystery at this stage of the season. While 2-0, the wins have been a little too tight against lightweights William & Mary and Middle Tennessee. Was Ralph Friedgen waiting for this game to open up his playbook, or is Maryland about to get exposed like so many of its ACC brethren have early in 2006?  Stay tuned. This is huge or both conferences.
Why Maryland might win: Behind its big, physical offensive line, Maryland will be able to pick up real estate on the ground while keeping the West Virginia offense pacing on the sidelines.  The backfield trio of Keon Lattimore, Lance Ball and Josh Allen gives the Terps the depth and fresh legs needed to control the tempo and quiet the home crowd. They don’t have to match West Virginia’s ground game yard for yard, but they might be almost as effective. QB Sam Hollenbach doesn’t move well in the pocket, but he’ll have time to find receivers against a Mountaineer defense that’s yet to register its first sack.              
Why West Virginia might win: The Mountaineer running game is every bit as impressive as it was billed to be ranking No. 2 nationally cranking out 353 yards a game.  You can also expect the wraps to be taken off electric QB Pat White, who’s played conservatively while his sore ribs have needed time to heal. Once West Virginia gets up, Maryland won’t have the downfield passing game to mount a comeback, and doesn’t have the defense to keep Steve Slaton and the ground attack from tearing up time and yards.                      
Who to watch: Maryland LB Wesley Jefferson leads the Terps with 18 tackles and is in the midst of a breakout junior season. He’ll have to have the game of his life in order to slow down the vaunted Mountaineer ground attack.            
What will happen: With a chance for a little national validation, there’s no way you won’t get an “A” from the Mountaineers in front of their rabid fans.  Slaton will get his yards, but this night will belong to White, who’ll explode with both his legs and his arm.
CFN Prediction: West Virginia 38 ... Maryland 16 ... Line: West Virginia -16
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Fashion House) ... 3

Cincinnati (1-1) at Ohio State (2-0) 12 pm EST GamePlan Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: You’ve got to go back 109 years to find the last time Cincinnati got the best of Ohio State, but the Bearcats get a chance to shock the world in Columbus Saturday afternoon.  Think it might be crazy? In 2002, UC almost ended the Buckeye national title season before it began with a near-miss, down to the final drive 23-19 loss. Coming off a lackluster 33-15 home loss to Pittsburgh, the Bearcats have to deal with two brutal road games going to Virginia Tech next week.  The Buckeyes were the undisputed story of Week 2, ending Texas’ 20-game winning streak and solidifying their No. 1 ranking in both polls.  They’ve got the aura a champion, but they have to get used to avoiding letdowns against inferior opponents and playing as a marked team the rest of the way. 
Why Cincinnati might win
: Break out the tape of that 2002 game, when Cincinnati led for 56 minutes and nearly pulled off the shocker.  Strange things happen every weekend in college football, especially with the potential letdown facing Ohio State after last weekend’s mega-tilt.  Just ask Florida State, which needed to rally a week ago to beat Troy. OSU has a showdown with Penn State next week making this a potentially dangerous sandwich game.
Why Ohio State might win
: Cincinnati is a mess on offense, and that isn’t about to change against an Ohio State D that grew up fast Saturday night in Austin.  There are no stars yet on the Buckeye defense (although LB Jim Laurinaitis is quickly on the rise), which is a good thing right now because they’ll come to play this weekend and approach the Bearcats like any other challenge.  They’ve allowed just two touchdowns this year, and that number likely won’t change on Saturday.  
Who to watch: A star was born in the Lone Star State last Saturday.  In the biggest game of his life, Laurinaitis delivered 13 tackles, forced two fumbles and an interception, forever ending his anonymity.  He’s just a sophomore, and has that seek and destroy quality inherent to so many great Buckeye linebackers that preceded him.  Now the spotlight is on. Can he continue to shine? 
What will happen: The Buckeyes might sleepwalk through the early stages of the game, but Cincinnati doesn’t have the weapons on offense to take advantage and make this game competitive beyond the first quarter.           
CFN Prediction
:
Ohio State 41 ... Cincinnati 9 ... Line: Ohio State -29.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 2 

Wake Forest (2-0) at Connecticut (1-0) 12:00 PM EST Saturday September 16th
Why to Watch:  The Demon Deacons are 2–0 with a chance to continue with its hot start in its toughest test yet before closing out the non-conference season with Ole Miss and Liberty. Yes, that Wake Forest could really be 5-0 to start off the year.  However, UConn won’t be a pushover after getting a week off to rest up and prepare against a Deacon team that had way too many problems last week with Duke. Playing the hapless Blue Devils at home is one thing, but for new starting QB Riley Skinner and the rest of the offense, playing Connecticut in Rentschler Stadium could be a completely different ball game.
Why Wake Forest Might Win:  Those critics who thought that Skinner’s presence would force a drop off in passing game production were wrong.  The former Bolles School product completed 22 of 29 passes for 235 yards with no interceptions highlighted by a game-winning seven-play, 63-yard drive to come away with the win. The Blue Devils chose to take away the run game, and the passing game clicked throughout proving Deacon offense now has balance that could be lethal in Storrs. 
Why Connecticut Might Win:  Husky RB Terry Caulley is finally healthy and proved it against Rhode Island rushing for 95 yards and one touchdown on only 12 carries.  But, what may make him even more dangerous now is that he’s not alone.  Fellow RB Lou Allen and Donald Brown II combined for 201 yards and three touchdowns helping the Huskies to crank out 418 yards against the Rams.  LB Jon Abbate and the Wake front seven completely eliminated the Duke running game (62 total rushing yards), but stopping three RBs of this caliber will be a different story.
Who to Watch:  Wake Forest safeties Josh Gattis, who was banged up in the Duke game, and Patrick Ghee will have to play near the tackle box to keep the Husky triumvirate of backs from piling up another huge rushing day.  If the Deacons do sell out to stop the run, Husky QB D.J. Hernandez then carries the pressure of beating a three man secondary throughout the game.  Is he ready? He only threw 14 times against Rhode Island.
What Will Happen:  It’s hard to believe that losing QB Ben Mauk was a good thing, but Skinner is a gamer and won over the offense with late game calm and cool.  Going on the road, though, takes Skinner out of his comfort zone, and the Huskies have to raise the pressure level on him throughout the game.  If the Huskies can get Skinner and company off the field, then they have to register eight to ten play drives using all three backs and play action to control the clock.  Duke won the time of possession battle with Wake and the Demon Deacons almost lost as a result.  If the Huskies do the same this week, then the Deacons won’t eke out a close win this time. 
CFN Prediction: Wake Forest 24 ... Connecticut 21... Line: Connecticut -6
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ...

Big East Week Three Fearless Predictions, Part 2