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Big East Fearless Predictions - Week 7
Posted Oct 11, 2006

Preview and predictions for the week seven Big East games

Big East 
Cincinnati | Connecticut | Louisville | Pittsburgh | Rutgers
South Florida | Syracuse | West Virginia
Past Big East Predictions
Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5
Week 6

Week 7 Big East Fearless Predictions, Part 2 | Get Tickets for These Games

How'd we do so far? SU 31-2  ATS 17-10-1

Big East Game of the Week

Syracuse (3-3) at West Virginia (5-0), 12:00 EST, ESPN GamePlan, Saturday, October 14
Why to watch: No. 4 West Virginia keeps chugging along behind one of the nation’s most  punishing running games.  The Mountaineers shooed aside Mississippi State 42-14 in their return from a bye week to remain within earshot of top-ranked Ohio State and a crack at a national championship.  They open the Big East schedule with Syracuse, a rival they’ve beaten handily the last four years.  The Orange had its three-game winning streak snapped by Pittsburgh last weekend, needing to play well in Morgantown to avoid that old familiar sinking feeling.  Next up is Louisville, so Syracuse will know by next Saturday just how far along it’s come in Greg Robinson’s second season.
Why Syracuse might win: Turnovers can be the great equalizer in a game between two teams with disparate levels of talent.  The Orange are 13th in the country in turnover margin thanks to a front seven that already has 26 sacks and a defense that’s picked off nine passes.  West Virginia gave up a lot of big gainers and more than 200 yards passing for the third straight game, which will allow improving Syracuse QB Perry Patterson to make plays downfield.
Why West Virginia might win: That Orange run defense, which looked so good in September, sprung some serious leaks against Wyoming and Pitt, hardly prolific running teams.  Syracuse has given up more than 400 yards on the ground the last two Saturdays, which West Virginia’s second-ranked running game will exploit from the moment it gets off the bus.  This has the ingredients of Steve Slaton’s third 200-yard game of his brief career.
Who to watch: The Mountaineers are permitting way too many big plays in pass defense, but don’t fault Eric Wicks, who’s been one of the pillars of the defense.  The hard-hitting safety had a key pick last week, while pitching in two of West Virginia’s first six sacks of the 2006 season.
What will happen: The record says otherwise, however, the Mountaineers are making way too mistakes for a top 5 team.  It won’t cost them this week, however, thanks to a big day on the ground from Slaton and his bulldozing sidekick, Owen Schmitt.
CFN Prediction: West Virginia 35 ... Syracuse 13... Line: West Virginia -24.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Class) ...

Pitt (5-1) at UCF (2-3), 8:00 EST, ESPN, Friday, October 13
Why to watch: Very quietly, Pittsburgh has recovered from its Sept. 16 implosion against Michigan State to play its best football in years.  The Panthers are closing in on the Top 25 and still might be a player in the Big East race after demoralizing Syracuse in the Carrier Dome behind the running of LaRod Stephens-Howling and a relentless push from the front seven.  Pitt’s got 21 kids on the roster from the state of Florida, so this week’s trip to Orlando is a plum opportunity to strut in front of a key recruiting base.  UCF broke a three-game losing streak with a last-second, potential corner-turning win at Marshall last Wednesday.  The Golden Knights, who’ve sputtered for most of the first half of 2006, got a huge lift from backs Kevin Smith and Jason Peters, who both rushed for than 100 yards in the win.
Why Pittsburgh might win: The Panthers have put it all together over the last three weeks, getting balance of offense, while allowing just a pair of meaningless touchdowns.  Red-hot Tyler Palko, the nation’s No. 2-rated passer will feast on a UCF defense that’s allowing 265 yards a game and has just a pair of sacks over the past two weeks.  For those 21 Pitt players from the Sunshine State, this trip will be a little more meaningful than the garden variety out of conference game.
Why UCF might win: This has the potential to be a trap game for Pitt, which played Syracuse last Saturday and hosts Rutgers next weekend.  If the Panthers attempt to write this one in, a more confident UCF will pounce on the opening.  Peters and Smith, assuming his bruised ribs are feeling better, give the Knights a formidable tandem that can control the clock and keep Palko and Co. pacing on the sidelines.
Who to watch
: Sans any superstars, Pitt’s front four has been dominating opposing offensive lines and creating turnovers the last few weeks.  The catalyst has been scrappy DE Chris McKillop, who parlayed five tackles, 2½ sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery against Syracuse into Big East Defensive Player of the Week honors.
What will happen
: UCF has a little head of steam, but this is a step up in competition that it won’t be able to handle.  LB H.B. Blades will help corral the Knight running game, forcing erratic QB Steven Moffett into ill-advised passes on third and long.
CFN Prediction: Pitt 31 ... UCF 16... Line: Pitt -10.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Class) ... 2

Army (3-3) at Connecticut (2-3), 12:00 EST, Saturday, October 14
Why to watch: If the postseason is going to feature multiple military academies, this is a game Army has to have.  The Cadets rebounded from a horrible loss to Rice two weeks ago by disposing of I-AA VMI 62-7.  Having already beaten Baylor out of the Big 12, and pushing Texas A&M to the final play, a win over a Big East team would be another indicator of how far along the program has come under Bobby Ross.  The wheels are beginning to come off at Connecticut, where nothing seems to be clicking after a positive start.  The Huskies have been gouged by Navy and South Florida the last two weeks by a combined score of 79-33, stamping this week’s Army visit an obvious must-win for any bowl hopes.  With a brutal second-half of the schedule still to come, this could be their last chance to win a game in 2006.
Army might win: Connecticut’s 110th-ranked run defense has been steamrolled over for 669 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground the last two weeks, which plays right into Army’s offensive strength. The Cadets have been at their best this season when they haven’t had to rely on error-prone QB David Pevoto, while Wesley McMahand has been a good workhorse for the offense.  The Husky offense has failed to score more than 17 in its last four games, so a few early scores might be enough.
Why Connecticut might win: The Huskies can’t stop the run, but then again, neither can the Cadets, which are ranked 102nd in the country.  The only thing Connecticut has had some success with in 2006 is running the ball with Terry Caulley and Lou Allen, and they should have a field day against the struggling Army defensive front. Army has problems holding on to the ball, so expect UConn to get a few big breaks to capitalize on.
Who to watch: As horrible as Connecticut’s quarterbacks have been this fall, Caulley needs to assert himself, while carrying the Husky offense.  After getting bottled up by South Florida a week ago, he’ll find significantly more running room this week against a sub par and plodding Army defense.
What will happen: Connecticut is a bad football team, however, it’s also home and desperate, which will help get it a win versus an Army team that’s followed a win with a loss all season.
CFN Prediction: Connecticut 27 ... Army 17... Line: Connecticut -5.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Class) ...

Week 7 Big East Fearless Predictions, Part 2 | Get Tickets for These Games