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Big East Fearless Predictions, Week 4, Part 2

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 20, 2006


Preview and predictions for the week four Big East games ... Part 2


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

How'd we do so far? SU 20-2  ATS 11-5-1


Big East Week Four Fearless Predictions

The Citadel (0-2) at Pittsburgh (2-1), 1:30 EST, Saturday, September 23
Why to watch: Last year’s Panther team tanked whenever it faced adversity.  This year’s squad vows to be different.  We’ll see, beginning with this week’s visit from The Citadel.  After starting fast, Pittsburgh got exposed, particularly on defense, in a 38-23 loss to Michigan State.  The Panthers tackled poorly and failed to get pressure on Drew Stanton, allowing the Spartans to pile up 335 yards on the ground.  Even with a cushy four-game stretch ahead of it, Pitt will be in trouble if doesn’t recover quickly from last weekend’s unexpected spanking.  The Citadel is coming off a bye week after dropping its first two games to Texas A&M and Charleston Southern, and is not a threat to win the Southland Conference in 2006.          
Why The Citadel might win: No one on the Bulldogs resembles Stanton or Javon Ringer, but if Pittsburgh comes out flat or plays sloppy on defense, it’s going to seem that way.  The Panthers were feeble on Saturday, allowing 533 total yards, committing three turnovers and conjuring up memories of last year’s nightmare season.  Bulldog QB Duran Lawson can make plays with his arm and his legs, which caused problems for Pitt last weekend.  
Why Pittsburgh might win: The Panther running game is a source of concern, but the Tyler Palko-led passing attack is No. 19 in the country.  WRs Derek Kinder and Oderick Turner have combined for 24 catches and six touchdowns, showing more and more that Greg Lee is not being missed.  Palko will carve up a Citadel secondary that’s ranked 107th in I-AA pass defense, and allowed five touchdown passes to Charleston Southern two weeks ago.
Who to watch
: Dave Wannstedt and Matt Cavanaugh are determined to get the Panther running game cranking, which means Larod Stephens-Howling better get plenty of sleep Friday night.  He looked good returning from an ankle injury, but Pitt was forced to abandon the run once it fell behind Michigan State.
What will happen
: Although it isn’t the litmus test needed to gauge Pitt’s year-over-year growth, the Panthers will get back to winning behind a more balanced offense that’ll produce more than 500 total yards.  
CFN Prediction: Pitt 45 ... Citadel 10 ... Line: No Line
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency) ...
1

Howard (0-2) at Rutgers (3-0), 2:00 EST, Saturday, September 23
Why to watch: For decades, Rutgers has eyed coaches from various power programs in the hopes of attracting the best and the brightest to Piscataway.  Now the rumor mill is suggesting one of those heavyweights, Miami, could look to New Jersey to restore the pride, a testament to the amazing job Greg Schiano is doing with the Scarlet Knights.  It wasn’t all that pretty, but Rutgers beat Ohio Saturday, bringing the program within a win of its first 4-0 start in 26 years.  With the defense and the running game purring, Schiano will concentrate this week on a passing game that’s 111th nationally and has produced just one touchdown in three games.  The Knights are No. 28 in the latest AP poll, ironically, one spot behind Miami.  Howard has opened with back-to-back losses to Hampton and Florida A&M.     
Why Howard might win: Statistically, the Bisons have no business being in this game, but that’s exactly when the unthinkable usually happens.  Rutgers is getting unprecedented national pub, including the distractions pertaining to Schiano, and have a pivotal trip to South Florida next week to kick off the Big East season.  Howard?  Who’s Howard?  Don’t be shocked if the Knights labor to keep their eye on the ball this week.
Why Rutgers might win: Ray Rice and the running game have been sensational averaging 200 yards through the first three games.  Against a Bison defense that’s been a doormat in its first two games, the Knights will improve on that average, while keeping Rice in the top 5 nationally in rushing. 
Who to watch
: Rutgers has been one of the feel-good stories of the first month of 2006, however, unless QB Mike Teel can start making plays in the passing game, the Knights are going to struggle once Big East play begins next week.  Against Ohio, Teel had half as many picks—three— as completions, leaving this week’s tune-up as his last chance work on fundamentals in a relaxed environment.
What will happen
: Rutgers will get 300 yards on the ground, while inching closer to that elusive spot in the Top 25 polls.   
CFN Prediction: Rutgers 48 ... Howard 7 ... Line: No Line
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency) ...
1

Miami University (0-3) at Syracuse (1-2), 7:00 EST, ESPNU, Saturday, September 23
Why to watch: After 11 straight losses and 372 days, Syracuse has finally won a football game.  Woo-hoo! The Orange got a defensive touchdown and rare support from the offense in a 31-21 win over Illinois that was actually far worse than the final score indicated.  For the first time under Greg Robinson, the offense was eclectic, getting production on the ground and from the Perry Patterson to Taj Smith connection  It’s way premature to suggest Syracuse is turning the corner, yet, after such a long wait, the win will do wonders for the program’s psyche and confidence.  Whether it’s Ohio or Florida, it aint much fun playing for Miami these days.  The RedHawks are 0-3 for the first time in 16 years, sporting an inconsistent offense that would make Syracuse cringe.  Miami’s 16-14 loss to Kent State Saturday snapped the Golden Flashes’ 11-game losing streak and gave Kent its first win in Oxford since 1988.                           
Why Miami might win: Part of the problem with the Miami offense has been the lack of balance created by the absence of RB Brandon Murphy, who sat out the first two games with an injury.  Murphy is back to face Syracuse’s 96th-ranked run defense, while taking some pressure off first-year starting quarterback Mike Kokal.  Even after last week’s improvements, the Syracuse offense is still not built to play from behind.               
Why Syracuse might win: Turnovers.  The Orange are tied for No. 3 in the country in turnover margin thanks to an attacking defense and a line that consistently flushes opposing quarterbacks out of the pocket.  When the inexperienced Kokal gets out of his comfort zone, he’ll make game-changing mistakes that give Syracuse a short field.                        
Who to watch: Former linebacker Jameel McClain has been a terror coming off the edge for the Orange D.  In his first three career starts, he’s had a sack in each game, which will rattle a RedHawk offensive that’s already allowed 15 sacks, more than all but one team in the country.  
What will happen: Fueled by a defensive touchdown and Curtis Brinkley’s first career 100-yard day, Syracuse will enjoy its first back-to-back wins in almost two years.

CFN Prediction
:
Syracuse 27 ... Miami 16 ... Line: Syracuse -6.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency) ... 1.5 
   

South Florida (3-0) at Kansas (2-1) 7 pm EST Saturday, Sept. 23
Why to watch: For the first time this year, South Florida ventures outside the Sunshine State with a chance to make a statement against a Big 12 team.  The Bulls’ 3-0 record has been deceptive and as much a product of a weak schedule as anything else.  Last week’s emotional 24-17 win at budding rival UCF did seem to light a fire under a team that trudged through its first two victories.  Kansas looks to rebound from a draining, 37-31 double-overtime loss at Toledo on Friday night.  The Jayhawks have issues of their own, headed by an inability to protect the football in the first three games.  They weren’t five-star prospects coming out of high school, but USF’s Matt Grothe and Kansas’ Kerry Meier are two of the more exciting redshirt freshmen quarterbacks in the country.
Why South Florida might win: The Bull defense has been true to form so far holding opponents to 261 yards and just under 16 points a game.  It’s allowing only 82 yards a game on the ground, which should neutralize Kansas RB Jon Cornish and leave a banged-up Meier to have to win the game for the Jayhawks. The young quarterback hasn’t been consistent enough to prove he can win games against good teams when it’s all on his shoulders.
Why Kansas might win: South Florida’s been good against the run, but Kansas has been even better allowing 71 yards a game.  The Jayhawks will turn the Bulls into a one-dimensional offense, forcing Grothe to shoulder the load against an improved secondary.  In an evenly-matched game, USF’s nation’s-worst punting unit gives Kansas a major advantage in the battle for field position.
Who to watch: Kansas CB Aqib Talib returned from suspension last week to give the Jayhawk secondary an immediate boost.  He had six tackles and three pass breakups, helping hold the usually efficient Toledo aerial attack to 15-of-47 passing for 136 yards and a touchdown.  Talib will be matched up with Ean Randolph, who leads the Bulls with 10 catches and a pair of touchdown receptions.
What will happen:  Don’t be fooled by the records—Kansas is the slightly better team.  The Jayhawks will make stopping Grothe a mission to pick up a critical and hard fought home win.

CFN Prediction
:
Kansas 24 ... South Florida 19 ... Line: Kansas -5.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency) ... 2.5 

Big East Week Four Fearless Predictions