BY CHRISTOPHER J. MOGOLLON
BIG EAST INSIDER
12:00 – ESPN: Pittsburgh 2-0 (0-0) @ Michigan State 2-0 (0-0) - Neither team has had a true test yet and are off to good starts. Last year when these two teams hooked up in Heinz Field Javon Ringer just tore the Pitt D to pieces rushing for 156 yards. On the other side, Pitt could not run the ball and because of a bad start shied away from putting the ball on the ground only racking up 81 rushing yards.
Key Match up: Javon Ringer/Jehuu Caulcrick vs. Pitt Run Defense - When head coach Mark Dantonio cam to East Lansing the first thing he said is that the offense will make some major changes, they will become a tough team that can run the football down opponent’s throat. Pitt lost their captain last year an leading tackler in H.B Blades at linebacker, the big question for the Panthers was if they could stop the run and so far so good. Versus Eastern Michigan, they only allowed only 42 rushing yards and 84 when they played Grambling State, however this will be a very different running game. Ringer and Caulcrick complement each other very well. Ringer has some quick moves and it showed in home games against Bowling Green and UAB where he rushed for 80 and 83 yards. Caulcrick leads the team with five touchdowns, he is a little bigger than Ringer but has big play ability as well, just ask the Blazers who saw Caulcrick run for a 42-yard TD.
12:00 - ESPN360/Gameplan: Temple 0-2 (0-1) @ Connecticut 2-0 (0-0) - This is a must win for the Huskies if they’re thinking about being bowl bound. The Temple Owls have been probably the worst program in college football in the last past decade. There might be some animosity in this game because Connecticut replaced Temple in the Big East.
Key Match up: Donald Brown II vs. Temple Rush Defense - There was a lot of hype coming out of Storrs this year about Tyler Lorenzen who has played very well in his first two games, but it has been the rushing game that has raised eyebrows. Donald Brown had a good freshman year on the down low getting a mix of carries from week to week. He had a superb game in a thriller against Pittsburgh where he ran for 205 yards. Brown is picking up where he left off rushing for 87 yards vs. Maine and 94 at Duke averaging over 4.3 yards per carry in each of those games. To make matters worse for Temple, the Owls have been terrible against the run being dominated when they played Navy and allowing 224 rushing yards in their game versus Buffalo – look for Brown to continue the trend.
12:00 – ESPNU: Illinois 1-1 (0-0) @ Syracuse 0-2 (0-0) - Last year when these two schools played in Champaign the Orange played their best game of the year as they defeated the Illini 31-21, but the game was over at halftime. This season is different – Illinois seemingly has improve at almost every position with younger players stepping it up…where as somehow Syracuse has gotten worse at every position getting spanked in their first two games. The Orange have played decent for only one quarter this whole season so a lot is on the line here, it is important not to be embarrassed again unfortunately they face Illinois who has the talent to do so.
Key Match up: Juice Williams vs. SU Linebackers - Williams is only a sophomore and is still learning the position – he had a lot of trouble last year in both who to throw the ball to and when to run. In the first game of the year Williams had to leave in the second quarter because of a blow to the head and against Western Kentucky there was more running and safe plays than anything, this could be a coming out party for Juice. He has some tremendous receivers to throw too but what makes Williams so dangerous his quickness and speed. He can make defenses look silly avoiding sacks left and right, he loves to just rollout and throw deep passes. Syracuse has a poor linebacker corps, with no experience and even less speed. Ron Zook should definitely call some quarterback draws to take advantage of the lack of speed oas Juice looks to squeeze the Orange.
12:00 - ESPN360/Gameplan: Cincinnati 2-0 (0-0) @ Miami (OH) 1-1 (1-0) - This is a test for Cincy not to have a let down after such a big win. Miami will definitely be pumped to upset their interstate rival and win that beloved trophy. The Redhawks have won three of the last five games against their rival including a blowout the last time they played at Miami.
Key Match up: Ben Mauk vs. Miami Secondary - The Bearcats run that spread offense that Mauk has fit into perfectly so far. Mauk has thrown for 443 yards in just two games, along with four touchdowns. Mauk has also thrown for a 50-yard-plus scoring pass in each game. Miami has been hurt in the passing game already this year allowing 271 yards and four touchdowns at Minnesota and they also struggled in a win against Ball State. Cincy is a passing offense and in order for Miami (OH) to have a chance in this game they need to stop the pass and force Mauk to make a couple of mistakes.
3:30 - ESPN360/Gameplan: Norfolk State 1-0 (0-0) @ Rutgers 2-0 (0-0) - The Scarlet Knights have taken care of business so far and look for them to continue that at home when they play championship subdivision Norfolk State. RU dominated Buffalo and Navy and are riding a nine-game home winning steak that should continue.
Key Match up: Ray Rice vs. Norfolk State - What makes this game a guarantee win is the supremacy of Ray Rice compared to this lower level defense. When a Heisman candidate faces a championship subdivision program, it’s pretty much game over. Rice has already rushed for 359 yards five touchdowns and is averaging 5.8 yards per carry and he will have a couple big gains. The junior already has a 41-yard touchdown run this year, so look for Rice to pad his stats for the race for the Heisman.