Big East Fearless Predictions, Week 4
Posted Sep 16, 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, Part 2

Big East Game of the Week

Louisville (3-0) at Kansas State (3-0) 12:10 pm EST Saturday, Sept. 23
Why to watch: Someone ought to hurry up and get a full-time psychologist on staff at Louisville.  Two weeks after losing Michael Bush to a broken leg, and on the same day the Cards humiliated Miami, Brian Brohm suffered a thumb injury that’ll shelve him for about a month.  The emotional rollercoaster ride continues with this week’s journey to Manhattan.  Even with Hunter Cantwell behind center, the expectations won’t change for a program that stamped itself among the nation’s elite with Saturday’s 31-7 dissection of the Hurricanes.  Kansas State is taking baby steps in Ron Prince’s first season as Bill Snyder’s successor.  The Wildcats have improved each week since eking out a win over I-AA Illinois State, particularly on a defense that’s creating turnovers and hasn’t given up a point over the last two games.  A win here instantly changes the program’s timetable for winning the Big 12 North. 
Why Louisville might win: All the talk about the Cardinals’ offensive playmakers makes it easy to lose sight of a defense that’s playing really well.  One week removed from shutting out Miami over the final 52 minutes, Louisville is No. 3 nationally in run defense and 17th in scoring defense.  They’ve also got a dozen sacks, which presents a problem for a jittery Wildcat offensive line that had five false starts last week.  Despite opening with three bad football teams, Kansas State is No. 87 in the country in total offense, raising doubts they can run with the Louisville offense. 
Why Kansas State might win: Everything seems to be lining up for the Wildcats to pull an upset that knocks Louisville out of the top 10.  No Bush and no Brohm this week for a quick Kansas State D that’s 14th nationally in scoring defense and No. 15 in sacks.  Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris will turn the dogs loose on Cantwell, who’ll be starting just the third game of his career.
Who to watch: Well, if Louisville is going to win a Big East title or more, it’s up to Cantwell to tap into his inner Earl Morrall long enough until Brohm gets healthy.  When Brohm went down last year, Cantwell was rushed into the lineup with no warning.  Today, he’s a very different quarterback with quality game experience against Virginia Tech and Miami to go along with a full spring as the No. 1 guy under his belt.
What will happen
: Louisville is ripe for the upset, but with its offensive stars on the mend, the underrated Cardinal defense will step up and prevent a post-Miami meltdown.
CFN Prediction
Louisville 31 ... Kansas State 17 ... Line: Louisville -7.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency) ...

Cincinnati (1-2) at Virginia Tech (3-0), 12:00 EST, ESPNU, Saturday, September 23
Why to watch: Although they’ve played three games, we really don’t know much about the Hokies.  We rarely do this time of year.  Sure, they can run the ball with Branden Ore, shut down pedestrian offenses and change games on special teams, but are they genuine ACC contenders or just posing against Northeastern, North Carolina and Duke?  Unfortunately, Cincinnati won’t provide an answer, but Georgia Tech might a week from Saturday.  For more than a quarter, the Bearcats led No. 1 Ohio State on Saturday, but once the Buckeyes awoke from their Texas-induced slumber, the threat of a cataclysmic upset was over.  Cincy’s making progress in Mark Dantonio’s third year, and if nothing else, last week’s trip to Columbus will offer valuable lessons for this Saturday’s trek to Blacksburg.                       
Why Cincinnati might win: For almost a half last Saturday, the Bearcats looked like the squad that almost knocked off the eventual champion Buckeyes in 2002.  They were efficient on offense, gang-tackling on defense and playing with speed and confidence until Ohio State created some daylight.  Yeah, doing it for 60 minutes is a lot different than providing a 20 minute-scare, however, Virginia Tech has yet to be tested in 2006.  If Cincinnati starts strong again this weekend, the young Hokies may not be so quick to answer the bell.               
Why Virginia Tech might win: You just don’t beat a Frank Beamer-coached team with a one-dimensional offense.  The Hokies have allowed 10 points all year, pitching shutouts in two of three games.  The Bearcats are averaging just 53 yards a game on the ground, which means it’ll be up to sporadic QB Dustin Grutza to move the offense.  Considering how Cincinnati pass blocked last week, don’t count on it.                        
Who to watch: Whether or not the Hokies are bona fide ACC challengers depends heavily on the development of QB Sean Glennon.  Tech has begun gelling into a cohesive unit, including the sophomore, who’s No. 9 nationally in passing efficiency and is coming off a 300-yard day.  Glennon’s been sacked just twice and hasn’t thrown many balls with a hand in his face, a luxury that’ll continue for at least one more week. 
What will happen
: In typical Beamerball fashion, the Hokies will harass Grutza into turnovers, get 100 yards from Ore and parlay at least one big play on special teams into the beginning of the end for Cincinnati.  
CFN Prediction: Virginia Tech 37 ... Cincinnati 13  ... Line: Virginia Tech -26
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency) ... 2

Connecticut (1-1) at Indiana (2-1) 12 pm EST GamePlan  Saturday, Sept. 22
Why to watch: This is a prove-it game for two two teams coming off of wildly disappointing losses. Connecticut played great on defense in last week's 24-13 loss to Wake Forest, but the offense made a few huge mistakes and showed that it still needs time before it'll be consistent. Indiana had the game against Southern Illinois well in hand before gagging in the second half in a stunning 35-28 loss. With Wisconsin up next week, this needs to be a must win for the Hoosiers. UConn gets to deal with Navy's running game next week before diving into Big East play at South Florida.
Why Connecticut might win: Southern Illinois outrushed Indiana 244 yards to 76. While the Hoosier running game has been bad, the run defense was atrocious when it needed to be stout last week. It did a good job against pedestrian Western Michigan and Ball State ground games, but UConn's rushing attack is explosive and extremely effective with Terry Caulley, Donald Brown, and Lou Allen each able to come up with a big day. If they're motoring, the pressure is off of QB D.J. Hernandez, and the overall offensive mistakes will be kept to a minimum. 
Why Indiana might win: IU should be fine as long as it's not turning the ball over. It had the SIU game well in hand before the mistakes kicked in, and it struggled early against Ball State with inconsistent overall play and no defense. The Hoosiers will win if they can put together two good halves, but that's asking for a whole bunch out of a young team led by a freshman QB in Kellen Lewis.
Who to watch: Don't go away when each team is punting. Each team has been horrible at kicking the ball, and each team has explosive punt returners. UConn's Larry Taylor leads the nation with a 27-yard average, and he's also growing into a steady receiver. Indian's Tracy Porter took a return 86 yards for a touchdown against Western Michigan, but the real star is Lance Bennett, who's way overdue to bust out. The senior is way too good a kick and punt returner to only average nine yards on kickoffs and 0.67 on punt returns.
What will happen: Connecticut will commit two big turnovers to keep Indiana in the game, but the running attack will end up controlling the game and getting the win.
CFN Prediction
Connecticut 27 ... Indiana 23  ... Line: Indiana -2
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency) ... 2.5

West Virginia (3-0) at East Carolina (1-2), 4:00 EST, ESPN2, Saturday, September 23
Why to watch: As teams around them faltered last weekend, West Virginia stayed the course in its first  showcase game to move up to No. 4 in both polls.  The Mountaineers ambushed Maryland on national television, once again getting monster production from Heisman wannabe Steve Slaton.  After just 13 career games, Slaton has officially ascended into the proverbial rock star in the Big East.  Certainly no one celebrates injuries, but even the bad breaks Louisville is enduring seem to indicate the ‘eers are one of those teams of destiny.  With two losses behind them and West Virginia in front of them, East Carolina absolutely had to beat Memphis in last week’s home opener.  They did behind a pair of second-half touchdowns from both the offense and the defense.            
Why West Virginia might win: East Carolina’s numbers against the run are out of whack from opening with Navy, however, that doesn’t suggest the Pirates will be able to slow down the nation’s top-ranked ground game.  The Mountaineers have become a force of nature, averaging 348 yards a game thanks to Slaton and a Dan Mozes-led offensive line that run blocks as well as any in the country.  Once ECU starts giving Slaton too much respect, QB Pat White will call his own number and rip through an unsuspecting defense.                      
Why East Carolina might win: The West Virginia defense showed cracks Thursday night allowing Maryland to pick up chunks of yards through the air and score 24 points.  The Mountaineers still haven’t registered a sack in 2006, giving Pirate QB James Pinkney the necessary time to throw darts to receivers Aundrae Allison and Phillip Henry.  Add in RB Chris Johnson, and East Carolina has the most dangerous and versatile offense West Virginia has faced so far in 2006.                    
Who to watch: As if the Mountaineers need more offensive weapons, WR Darius Reynaud is beginning to heat up.  The mighty mite with next level speed caught a touchdown pass from White and returned a kick 96 yards for another score, giving Pirate defensive coordinator Greg Hudson one more game-breaker to try and defense.
What will happen: With West Virginia hitting the road for the first time and East Carolina emboldened by last week’s comeback win, this has the ingredients of a closer-than-logic-dictates type game.  The Pirates will dish out some blows with their passing game, but it won’t be enough to keep pace with the Mountaineer offense.    
CFN Prediction: West Virginia 40 ... East Carolina 21 ... Line: West Virginia -21
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency) ...

Big East Week Four Fearless Predictions, Part 2