Big East/Indy Report: Week 9


I was out of the loop last week due to technical difficulties on my side since I was out at the happiest place on earth, Disneyland. One of the downsides of parenthood is that your kid will at times get sick at the worst possible time. Unfortunately, I spent most of my weekend in either a hotel room or a hospital. On a positive note, my picks came up mostly flat. Who would have thought that Notre Dame would come up impotent against Navy in what was in effect a home away from home game? Who could have imagined Syracuse coming up huge defensively against a ranked West Virginia?
I hope things will come out brighter this week. We have 6 games on the slate between the Big East and the Indies. The Big East is simply one big mess where no one team can assert its dominance. One week you think Syracuse is on its way back and they get shelled by Pitt. Rutgers just catches its own bad luck.

West Virginia @ Connecticut (Friday)
West Virginia goes into Connecticut after being one of the lower profile victims of last week’s round of upsets.
Expect running back Noel Devine to pound away on the Connecticut defense to set up the pass for Geno Smith. This should be a recovery game for the Mountaineers as the Huskies were blanked last week by Louisville 26-0. Connecticut remains in flux as they are awaiting someone to step up with the departure of QB

Syracuse @ Cincinnati
Syracuse plays the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of the Big East. Much of that persona depends on the performance of linebacker Doug Hogue and defensive end Mikhail Marinovich. Hogue racked up his second national defensive player of the week award with his masterful performance against West Virginia. Hogue ended the game with 10 tackles, two interceptions, and 1.5 tackles for loss in the win. Marinovich had quarterback Geno Smith running for his life throughout the game. Marinovich is the son of the strength and conditioning guru, Marv, and brother to former NFL flameout Todd. He shows the aggressive nature that will serve him well at the next level. His problem is that he’s been known to get into trouble and last week during a 4th quarter drive picked up 2 facemask penalties. He dodged a bullet when a 3rd late hit penalty flag was picked up.
Cincinnati looks to recover from a 38-30 loss against South Florida. Zach Collaros put up 463 yards in passing but the Bearcats were catch-up most of the game. Three receivers put up 100 yards in receiving each, including main target, Armon Binns with 158. The Bearcat defense gave up points as soon as they could find them.
This week I expect Marinovich to push himself to the national spotlight by not giving Collaros enough time to beat the Syracuse zone defense. Expect Syracuse to win a close one here and solidify its 2nd place position in the Big East.

Louisville @ Pittsburgh
Louisville comes into Pittsburgh this week after blanking UCONN 26-0. Pitt comes into the game at 4-3, but 2-0 in the conference with big wins against Rutgers and Syracuse.
Bilal Powell has already reached the 1,000 yard mark for the season for the Cardinals. This may not be enough as inconsistency has plagued Louisville all this season.
Look for Pitt to retain sole possession of 1st place in the Big East behind the accurate passing of Tino Sunseri. At this point in the season, he has completed 67% of his passes with an average of 8 yards per attempt. Expect to see him at the next level with a team that runs a version of the West Coast offense. If Pitt can win out including games with WVU and South Florida, that buzz may become a roar. Don’t be surprised to see him in black and gold as an understudy to Big Ben within the next two years. Sunseri is a graduate of Pittsburgh Central Catholic HS, a school entrenched in yearly Top 100 HS Football rankings.
I don’t expect Pitt to have trouble this week and push closer to the Top 25…and sad to say a BCS bid.

VMI @ Army
Army is home this week. I expect an easy time with VMI, but this is the very definition of a trap game because the Air Force Academy looms next week. Trent Steelman remains “the best quarterback in the country you’ve never heard of”. The running attack should be on all cylinders and Army remains 2 wins away from its first bowl berth in over a decade. A win here does not count towards the mandatory 6.

Tulsa @ Notre Dame
Notre Dame is having difficulty becoming an elite team. After getting shelled by Navy in what was in essence a home game at the new Giants Stadium, they come back to South Bend to play a Tulsa team that has not been tested beyond a trouncing from #20 Oklahoma State. Expect Notre Dame to continue to beat teams that aren’t at the level of their personnel. Utah, Army, and USC loom ahead and Notre Dame is looking down the barrel of a 5 game losing streak if they cannot put it together here. They should, but, this may be the end of the highlights for Brian Kelly’s first season as coach.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23: Ricky Dobbs  of the Navy Midshipmen rushes with the ball against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 23, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Duke @ Navy
Ricky Dobbs leads the triple-option at home in Annapolis this week against a Duke team well on its way to becoming the doormat of the ACC once again.
Sean Renfree of Duke has put up a respectable 1700 yards of passing. His poor TD-INT ratio is a result of Duke continuing to play a less than stellar line giving up 10 sacks and -59 total yards of rushing for the QB.
Navy has the blueprint given by Army to continue the pressure on the young quarterback and run the ball into the ground.
Expect a 3 TD win for Navy this week.

Today’s preview was fueled by the pork shaped goodness of the McRib.
For those who like questions:
Do we need to put a watch on Regis Philbin after watching his beloved Fighting Irish blow another game to Navy? Will I make it to the end of the World Series without shaving my beard? Should the Big East lose its automatic BCS bid after losing BC and Miami? Let me know what you think on Twitter @prttimesouthpaw.

Big East and Indy Report: Week 7


This week the Big East moves into Week 2 of conference play. West Virginia is solidifying its status as the conference favorite. Will Syracuse and Rutgers have anything to say about it later in the season?

West Virginia 20 – South Florida 6 (Thursday)

South Florida loses its second straight game in Big East play after losing to Syracuse for the first time last week.

Sophomore Geno Smith led WVU with 219 yards on 24 of 31 passing and 2 TDs.

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Geno Smith  of the West Virginia Mountaineers looks to throw a pass against the Louisiana State University Tigers at Tiger Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

South Florida just could not get it together offensively with only 202 total yards of offense. Dontavia Bogan put in the lone outstanding performance with 11 receptions for 98 yards.

Louisville @ Cincinnati

Cincinnati is a slight favorite away at Louisville this Friday.

Louisville had a confidence building game last week after shelling Memphis 56-0. Reality sets in with a Cincinnati team looking to salvage its slow 2-3 start.

Adam Froman is looking to win his first conference game of the year. After 4 TD passes against Memphis in the first half and an impressive performance against Oregon State, he should continue to pressure the Cincy defense.

Cincinnati is well prepared this week as running back Isaiah Pead rushed for all of his 197 yards against Miami (OH). All of those yards came in the first half.

Cincy and QB Zach Collaros have chips burning on the shoulders after being spurned by their coach. The win against Louisville will push the Bearcats back to .500.

Army @ Rutgers (@ East Rutherford, NJ)

Army is only 2 more wins away from securing its first bowl game in over a decade when it faces 3-2 Rutgers at the new Giants Stadium.

Greg Schiano continues to lie in wait for the Penn State job when Joe Paterno finally retires. He’ll be ready for this surprisingly big game against the Black Knights.

Army continues to have the 9th ranked rushing offense and continues to rack up the points with 32 points a game. Trent Steelman continues to impress and statistically ranks among the top quarterbacks in the NCAA. For backup, I implore you to read the well-written “Positive Impact Factors” articles found on our sister site inthebleachers.net.

Army may want you to “bet on black”, but the Rutgers defense should be enough to pull off the win.

Pitt at Syracuse

Syracuse comes home this week to face Pitt after a huge upset against South Florida.

Fans in upstate New York have a reason to believe in the poise of QB Mike Nassib after completing a 98 yard scoring drive in the middle of the 4th quarter.

Quarterback Tino Sunseri led a 2nd half comeback against Notre Dame last week with a rushing and passing TD. He finished 27 of 39 for 272 yards.

Syracuse only gives up 160 yards a game passing but had a weak outing against Jake Locker and Washington in Week 2.

The Carrier Dome should be as loud as it has been for a football game in years. That crowd edge should make the difference and give Syracuse the win.

SMU at Navy

The Midshipmen are at home this week against Southern Methodist.

The running game continues to impress, but one must worry about special teams due to 6’8” 270 pound DE Margus Hunt. In his second year of playing football, he has set the SMU record for 9 blocked kicks. Opponents are only 2 of 9 in FG attempts this year. Impressive more so as SMU has kept it competitive in its two losses against Texas Tech and #4 TCU.

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 05:  Quarterback Ricky Dobbs #4 of the Navy Midshipmen calls out signals to his teammates in a game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Navy is at home this week and should keep squeak out a close win in what is expected to muddy fields galore along the entire eastern seaboard. Quarterback Ricky Dobbs should be able to take advantage of the conditions and lead the rushing attack for another 200 yards on the ground.

Expect a Navy win in this one.

Western Michigan @ Notre Dame
Western Michigan comes into South Bend after a big win against Ball State.

Let’s be honest. The momentum screams Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are on a 2 game winning streak after tough wins at Boston College and at home against Pitt.

Notre Dame hits the softer part of its schedule in 4 of the next 5 games, barring an upset at home against Top-10 Utah. QB Dayne Crist is coming along as a leader with a rushing and passing TD each last week against the Panthers.

Expect an easy 2 TD victory with starters pulled in the 4th Quarter to take away any risk of injury.

Will we finally see an Army-Navy game with teams that have double digit combined wins? Will Mike Nassib prove to be the best Syracuse QB since Donovan McNabb? Is Michael Bisping underrated or just way too confident in his abilities? Let me know on Twitter @prttimesouthpaw

Big East and Indy Report: Week 6


This week, we have shifted responsibilities, but we are ready to continue to bring you the most comprehensive independent review of all the Division I games.

As for me, my newest responsibilities seem to make sense due to my own background.  I will be covering the Big East and the Independents going forward.

I actually have slight connections to both conferences.  The Holy Cross fathers from Notre Dame founded my undergraduate school in Pennsylvania.  My graduate school was originally a satellite campus for Syracuse University before it became part of the State University of New York system.

Enough about my background for one week, let’s get to the games:

 

Connecticut at Rutgers

Connecticut brings its 3-2 record to 2-2 Rutgers.

Rutgers is ranked 4th in nation in points scoring defense and has the 7th ranked rush defense.  Rutgers played tough in losses to Temple and North Carolina while Connecticut has beaten up on Buffalo, Vandy, and Texas Southern.

Connecticut is led by Junior RB Jordan Todman.  He comes into the game averaging 150 yards rushing per game in 4 appearances this year.  For his career, he has accumulated over 2,000 total yards.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - SEPTEMBER 02: Tom Savage  of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights drops back against the Norfolk State Spartans at Rutgers Stadium on September 2, 2010 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Rutgers is a +5 underdog at home, most likely due to starting QB Tom Savage being knocked out of last week’s game against Tulane.  I believe Rutgers’ bend but don’t break defense should keep things competitive enough to cover if not win outright.

Syracuse at South Florida

Syracuse comes into South Florida with matching 3-1 records.

Syracuse has a ray of hope after many years of being the doormat of the division.  After the Greg Paulus experiment, the quarterback situation has been solidified by Junior Ryan Nassib who comes into this game with a 151 QB rating.  Granted, the 3 wins have come against weak competition. 

South Florida comes into the game with an air of confidence, knowing that they have handled Syracuse in all 5 previous meetings.  Quarterback B.J. Daniels will have to deal with pressure all game long after showing a susceptibility towards mistakes after throwing 4 INT’s against Florida in Week 2.

Syracuse is playing away from home and facing its first conference test of the season.  South Florida should hold its home field and come away with a hard fought victory.

Memphis at Louisville

Louisville is a heavy favorite against 1-3 Memphis.

Memphis ranks towards the bottom in both points for and points against.

Expect an easy win for Louisville this weekend.

Army @ Tulane

Army continues its surprising run at 3-2 when it travels to Tulane this weekend.  Trent Steelman leads a rushing attack ranked 9th in the country.

This game is basically a pick ‘em, but Army will likely continue its march towards its first bowl game since 1996.

Pitt at Notre Dame

Notre Dame comes back home after getting back on track against Boston college.

Notre Dame looks better than its 2-3 record.  Both Michigan and Michigan State are ranked.  Stanford will still be in the Top 25 at the end of this year.

Pitt is led by Quarterback Tino Sunseri.  He’s completed 63% of passes this year, but looked more human against Miami and Utah.

Notre Dame should continue that positive momentum with a win this week.

 

Navy at Wake Forest

 

After a defeat last week at the hands of Air Force, Navy needs a great deal of help in order to keep the Commander-In-Chief  Trophy for this year.

Wake Forest comes into this game ranked 111th in the country in scoring defense, giving up close to 37 points a game.  Uncertainty at quarterback for Wake Forest combined with Navy’s 11th ranked rushing attack should mark a recovery for the service academy.

 

Miami (OH) at Cincinnati

Cincinnati is continuing its first season with coach Brian Kelly now coaching Notre Dame.

CINCINNATI - SEPTEMBER 25: Zach Collaros  of the Cincinnati Bearcats throws a pass during the game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Quarterback Zach Collaros continues the rebuilding effort and should get back on track against Miami of Ohio.  Cincy gave Oklahoma all it could handle while Miami took a 51-3 trouncing from Mizzou.

Expect at least a 2 TD victory from Cincinnati.

West Virginia over UNLV

This game will likely get out of hand.  UNLV is without the services Phillip Payne as a result of a suspension for remarks made on Twitter.

Do you miss Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Miami as a part of the Big East?  Should Villanova and Georgetown finally step up and bring their football programs to a D-1 level?  Have you wrapped your heads around the possibility that the Army-Navy game will have legitimate bowl implications this year?  Let me know @prttimesouthpaw on Twitter

Big East Week 4 Preview


Overview: West Virginia had an impressive win against Maryland this weekend as they continue to tune up for their big game this weekend against LSU.  Maryland is coming off of a terrible season but looked decent so far this year so it was a nice win for the Mountaineers.

Connecticut and Cincinnati both looked terrible and have really hurt the credibility of the Big East.  This conference needs solid performances from all their members in order to remain relevant on a national stage.  Both teams really need to step it up for the remainder of the season!

Last but not least we have to give a big hand to Louisville for putting on a good performance against Oregon State.  As far as preseason expectations go Oregon State was suppose to contend for a Pac 10 crown as Louisville was going to be a bottom feeder.  They gave the Beavers a tough fight this weekend and Louisville fans should feel good about the direction Charlie Strong is taking that team.

Standout Players: Geno Smith of West Virginia had the best day of any Big East performer.  He lead his team to a nice victory while going 19-29 for 268 yards and a touchdown.  Smith has proven to be a good passing quarterback and looks to lead the Mountaineers against a tough LSU secondary next week.

Jordan Todman of UConn was the lone bright spot for that team as he rushed for 192 yards and 1 touchdown.  Todman is going to get lost in the shuffle if his team continues to struggle.

CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 07:  Jordan Todman #23 of the Connecticut Huskies celebrates with Mike Ryan #71 after running for a touchdownl against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the Big East Conference game at Nippert Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Looking Ahead: The conference has two marquee match-ups this week and the outcomes will go along in determining how people perceive this conference.  The top game is #22 West Virginia @ #15 LSU in what is sure to be a great game.  I truly believe that LSU is ripe for the plucking as they shown limited abilities on offense.  Geno Smith is going to have to have a big game against a tough LSU defense that boasts NFL Mocks top rated pro prospect in Patrick Peterson.  I am predicting the upset here for the Mountaineers. The other top game will air Thursday night on ESPN as #19 Miami takes on Pitt.  Pitt desperately needs to pull off the victory here and get a quality out of conference win.  They will be counting on Dion Lewis to return to form and lead them to victory.  Miami is a very talented team and is coming off a disappoint loss to Ohio State so Pitt should expect them to be fully focused and ready to go.

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 26:  Dion Lewis #28 of the Pittsburgh Panthers runs with the ball against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game on December 26, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Another game that means a lot to the conference is North Carolina @ Rutgers.  UNC is still without the majority of their starting defense as they await word from the NCAA regarding their eligibility.  Rutgers has chance to pull off the win and gain some respect for the Big East.

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 12:  Tom Savage #7 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights throws a pass against the South Florida Bulls at Rutgers Stadium on November 12, 2009 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

If I was a Cincinnati fan I would hide my eyes this weekend as they take on #7 Oklahoma.  This game will not be pretty.

Written by Jon Dove @NFLMocks on Twitter

Big East


Overview:
I am sure most will agree with me when I say this was a disastrous weekend for the Big East. Three of what were considered the top teams in the conference was beaten by out of conference foes and each didn’t look at all impressive in those losses. All most all hope is lost for a national champion out of the conference as Pitt failed to pull out a victory against Utah. Connecticut looked unprepared and terrible against Michigan and there are real issues on that defense. Cincinnati looked equally as horrible as they were handled by Fresno State. All three teams have some major issues that need to be corrected in a hurry, both Cincinnati and Pitt need to stabilize their offensive lines and Connecticut needs to plug some holes on defense.
While those teams were disappointing West Virginia, South Florida, and Syracuse looked pretty good. Both West Virginia and South Florida started slow against weaker opponents but ended strong. Syracuse had a nice win against Akron and while they are a while away from contending it was nice to see them working their way back. Also don’t discount the young Rutgers team that could be a year or two away from national contention.
Stand out Players:
The best performance was that of South Florida’s quarterback BJ Daniels who threw for an accurate 264 yards and 2 touchdowns. Daniels looked in complete control all game and didn’t need to make any major plays on the run. Noel Devine had a nice game with 111 yards but he could have did more damage but it’s likely the Mountaineers are trying to save Devine for the games later down the road.
Looking Ahead:
The biggest game on the schedule is South Florida against #4 Florida. The Bulls need to travel to the Swamp and take on the perennial powerhouse Florida but there are questions surrounding the Gators. While Florida has superior talent things didn’t seem to click for them last week with new quarterback John Brantley under center. Can the young but talented Bulls pull off the upset? The rest of the conference is playing lesser opponents that they should easily handle.
This was a quick oven heater for our upcoming podcast. Stop by Friday morning to listen to our in-depth analysis on most of these topics. Can Pitt rebound from it’s opening day loss and get back into the National Title picture? How much trouble is Cincy in? Can South Florida pull off the major upset?
Written by Jon Dove @NFLMocks on Twitter

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