Thursday, November 12, 2009

Big East Power Rankings & Preview Week 11

1. Cincinnati Bearcats 9-0, (5-0): Last week: Won vs. Connecticut 47-45 -
The offense gained a whopping of 711 yards without Tony Pike. Marshwan Gilyard continues to make a case for conference player of the year. The senior wide receiver grabbed a season high 12-catches for 172 yards.

Up next: vs. West Virginia - Quarterback Zach Collaros will get the nod again as the starting quarterback. Pike remains an option but the offense hasn’t missed a beat without him. Against the fierce rushing attack of West Virginia it will be the defense that needs to step up to remain undefeated. They gave up 201 yards on the ground to the Huskies. The key to the game will be coaching and turnovers-Brian Kelly has always done a fantastic job having his teams ready for big games and Cincinnati leads the conference in interceptions. Don’t be surprised to see Aaron Webster or Drew Frey pick off a a big pass in the red zone to make the difference.

Prediction: Cincinnati 37, West Virginia 33

2. Pittsburgh 8-1, (5-0): Last Week: Won vs. Syracuse 37-10 - An interception returned for a touchdown by linebacker Greg Williams turned what was a close game into a route pretty quickly. Dion Lewis continues his remarkable freshman season rushing for 110 yards, his fourth consecutive 100-plus yard game.

Up Next: vs. Notre Dame - The Irish certainly come into this game with a chip on their shoulder after dropping a home game to Navy and quarterback Jimmy Clausen is likely to have a bounce-back game. Receivers Golden Tate and Michael Floyd are big play guys that will give the Panther secondary trouble. The difference in the game will be how well Pittsburgh runs the football. If they manage the game well and quarterback Bill Stull doesn’t make any significant mistakes they should be able to out slug the Fighting Irish. Jonathon Baldwin is prime to break out for a big game, he’s already racked up 678 yards this season.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 36, Notre Dame 28

3. South Florida Bulls 6-2, (2-2): Last week: Idle - South Florida has a lot to improve on. The offensive line needs to improve their chemistry, the receivers need to step up and the defense must play better against the run. The talent is there, but can they finish strong?

Up Next: At Rutgers - Winning a Big East title is out of the question but winning games in November will certainly start building momentum for the program and a run next year. Expect pass rushers George Selvie, Jason Pierre-Paul and Craig Marshall to give the Rutgers' freshman quarterback Tom Savage trouble. A match-up to keep an eye on will be the talented receivers of Rutgers like the speedy Tim Brown facing off against safety Nate Allen and cornerback Jerome Murphy. What the Scarlet Knights can do well is stop the run behind their strong front seven. In their losses to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh slow starts resulted in desperate play calling which included too all-or-nothing plays. USF must take advantage of B.J. Daniels' running ability.

Prediction: South Florida 23, Rutgers 14

4. West Virginia 7-2, (3-1): Last week: Won vs. Louisville 17-9 -
The game was closer than the experts thought and the Cardinals actually had a chance to tie the game in the final minutes. Defensive lineman Julian Miller recorded three sacks in the game bringing his season total to 8.5 which ranks second in the conference.

Up next: At Cincinnati - Noel Devine is why West Virginia will make this a competitive game. The conference's second leading rusher always steps up when the team needs him. He’s racked up 1,010 yards, averaging 6.0 yards a carry and ten touchdowns. But if they want to pull off the upset they’re going to need more than just Devine’s big runs. If quarterback Jarrett Brown doesn’t play well they will lose, he must keep the mistakes to a minimum.

Prediction: Cincinnati 37, West Virginia 33

5. Rutgers 6-2, (1-2): Last week: Idle - With a week off the offense had a lot to work on as they prepare for the final four games. They rank second to last in the conference in both passing and running, barely better than woeful Syracuse.

Up Next: vs. South Florida -
In order to win this football game Rutgers must run the ball down the throats of South Florida. Joe Martinek leads the team with 601 yards and seven touchdowns but hasn’t gained more than 54 yards in three previous conference games. Look for Rutgers to utilize extra practice time to add more looks and wrinkles to their offense. Running backs Jourdan Brooks, freshman De’Antwan Williams and receiver Mohamed Sanu running the wild-cat should all see more action. Wide-receiver Tim Brown is quietly having a fantastic season and he has proven he can make clutch plays. Defensively their number one job is contain the mobile quarterback, linebackers Ryan D’Imperio and Damaso Munoz will be up for the challenge.

Prediction: South Florida 23, Rutgers 14

6.Connecticut 4-5, (1-4): Last week: Lost at Cincinnati 47-45 - It’s true that moral victories don’t get you into bowl games but it’s tough to be critical of the Huskies this week. With all they've been through, to be down on the road and coming back deserves some credit.

Up Next: Idle - A much needed time off to collect their thoughts and prepare for Notre Dame.

7. Louisville 3-6, (0-4): Last week: Lost at West Virginia 17-9 - Emerging as the new lead ball carrier is Darius Ashley. The freshman rushed for 164 yards on 33 carries.

Up Next: vs. Syracuse -
This will be the last game of the season in which Louisville is expected to win. Playing against an Orange team that is experiencing turmoil, the Cardinals must minimize their turnovers and execute in the red zone. They should also take advantage of talented wide-outs Doug Beaumont and Scott Long versus a very poor pass defense.

Prediction: Louisville 21, Syracuse 20

8. Syracuse 3-6, (0-4): Last week: Lost at Pittsburgh 37-10 -
There wasn’t much that went right in this football game other then very good individual performances. Linebacker Derrell Smith continues to flourish racking up eight total tackles (6.5 sacks this season). The star of the game for Syracuse was Delone Carter who rushed for 144 yards on 17 carriers. It wasn’t a stat padding game either, most of the yards were gained in the first half when the game was still in reach.

Up Next: at Louisville - With their best offensive player Mike Williams having quite the team and their top defensive player Arthur Jones out for the season with a torn lateral meniscus...what does this team have left? This is a critical point for head coach Doug Marrone not to let his football team spiral downwarf even more. In order to win this game Carter must have another fantastic game on the ground.

Prediction: Louisville 21, Syracuse 20
Photos Courtesy of University of Pittsburgh, WVU Sports Communication, Syracuse University Athletics